I don’t usually delve into the economics side of fashion as I’m not about to spout off about something I know little about. I’m not about informing or educating anyone. However, the subject will crop up when there is blatant injustice being done here.
Steinberg & Tolkien, one of the oldest and most established vintage emporiums on King’s Road in London is being forced to close on the 24th September due to the rising rents in Chelsea. ‘We just couldn’t afford to carry on’ says Ruth, the manager. Owned by mother and daughter Anne and Tracey Tolkien who have no wishes to relocate as they are writers (Tracey wrote the book ‘Vintage: Art of Dressing Up’ ). It turns out the landlord sold off a few stores just down the road to make way for chain stores.
The reaction to Steinberg & Tolkien’s closure has been outrage and shock. For a long time before the likes of Rellik and Virginia came along, this was THE vintage store to name-drop and has had immense press coverage as well as editorial presence. It was also the first vintage Aladdin’s cave I had ever visited at the tender age of 13 but was of course frightened by the price tags. No, it isn’t cheap but when you have Alaia, Chanel, SchIaparelli, Biba, Missoni hanging off the walls and rails of clothing dating back to pre-20th century, you’d expect to pay a pretty penny. In fact, it was almost sad to see a designated closing down sale room where everything is 80% off. This isn’t a place which should be dictated by economic inevitabilities but instead, it should exist in it’s own orbit without interruptions from the ‘real worl’, because that’s what it feels like when you swish 1930’s delicate peach tea dresses against you or try on Courreges hats in a low ceiling basement. But there it is. Just as I’m blissfully ignorant of the economics involved in fashion, it comes slamming down in your face when you hear about shops as famous as Steinberg & Tolkien closing down.
So there’s nothing to do, no petition to sign, just accept that S&T will be no longer on the 24th and if the landlord’s recent decisions are anything to go by, a few months down the line, we shall see a store decked out with shiny spotlights and bleached floorboards. Until that day, I would suggest a visit to marvel, try something on and take something away, be it an actual item of clothing or just a memory.