Conveniently Positioned

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The Convenience Store, which has been chugging along in its Hazelwood Tower domain in Ladbroke Grove, for me, unfortunately isn't such a convenience due to its location.  Somehow that extra bit on the Central line or the slightly longer bus ride on the 23 is one step too far for me.  Following its successful pop-up stint at the front room of St Martins Lane Hotel, thankfully, Andrew Ibi and his Convenience Store are back in town for lazy Piccadilly line travellers such as myself and have set up camp once again at St Martins Lane hotel for two weeks starting from today.  It feels like a good point in The Convenience Store's timeline to stop by, have a closer, less frenzied look at what Ibi has been up to and what changes have infiltrated the shop's philosophy.  The pop-up, which includes a mix of designers brought on for A/W 10-11, graduate pieces taken on by Ibi due to his position as lecturer at Kingston University and archive pieces from seasons before from the designers that for him hold the key to longevity, therefore sums up quite nicely the idea of what Ibi now sees The Convenience Store heading… towards the building of a uniform.  This of course informed the set up at the pop-up… lockers, definitions of the word scrawled across a wooden table and a chipboard waiting to be written up with a list of every piece of stock in-store, kind of like a restaurant menu – particularly good for quickly answering the all-important "What can I afford today?" question.

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After speaking with Ibi for a period of time that was longer than intended, grazing on everything from the changing nature of retail in London and beyond, the changing values of luxury and the pricing of designers (or more to the point, over-pricing…), we both concluded that shops shouldn't really be museum stores where people gingerly touch things and then balk at prices.  Ibi's current selection of stock sees him weaving through archive Margiela, Surgi Persoons, A.F. Vandevorst, Veronique Branquinho (go check out Ibi's selection to see why it's terribly sad she is no longer in busines…) through to Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Erica Trotzig and Boudicca then finally landing at the new wave brought on by fresh graduates like E.Stott and Vivian Wong Wy as well as relative newbies Jeremy Laing and Heikki Salonen

Running through all of that is this idea that every piece should be loved and worn over and over again, warranting a price that I concluded is in fact nothing to balk at, for a Londoner that is robbed day in and day out by mere mundane things such as travel or the price of a bottle of water.  Price is an issue that has come up quite recently when several commentors on the blog felt it necessary to pry into my financial state of affairs, to which I replied as honestly as I could without handing over my internet banking details.  I'm not saying that, say ¬£250 for a pair of trousers is cheap.  But then put into perspective, that figure also equates to one or two shops in Topshop.  Questions of course of what is considered 'affordable' to some or not to others come into play but I'm no longer going to be shamed into a guilt trip over a purchase that I can afford as well as feeling guilty over the fact that the sort of level that The Convenience Store sets with its selection of designers and prices is a place where I am comfortable to shop at once in a while, to a) support the people that I write about and b) set my own standards of "Is it worth it?" for myself and myself only.  Read the comments if you wish to dissect any further.  Ibi also happens to be highly aware of pricing anyway, not to the point where things are 'bargainous' but at a sensible level that isn't REALLY the unattainable fashion la-la land that one would imagine if you start totting things up… a travel card, a hefty shop at Morrisons, a gym membership… I could go on…

Andrew Ibi's latest protege… Vivian Wong Wy, seamlessly paired with a Margiela piece on the right… actually within the whole store, I saw many parallels running from older to newer designer, again affirming Ibi's idea of a Uniform that stands the test of time…

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I have my eye on these mesh front, charcoal back trousers by Vivian Wong Wy…

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E. Stott's furry tall hats and squishy helmets are all over the shop, in addition to this velvet and silk jumpsuit…

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Lovely to see Jeremy Laing's forest-inspired grainy prints make an appearance in London…

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Seasons don't matter… especially with Boudicca's piece – I LOVE the printed skirt on the bottom… yes, looks a bit like the cover of a Phillipa Gregory novel…

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An unexpected prim turn from this Olivier Theyskens archive piece…

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A look back at a giant Clare Tough A/W 08 patchwork knit…

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Two floaty floaty pieces, one old, one new… old Margiela on the left and new season Back by Ann Sofie Back… I love what Ibi said about Back's pieces… a lot of design condensed into a package that is extremely affordable…

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Shoe designers coming and going… Camilla Skovgaard on the left won't be stocked for future seasons but Michael Lewis on the right will… shame I missed TCS's pop-up with Michael at Jalouse back in May

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Another London rarity…a pair of Kei Kagami shoes…

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The blurry images don't do them justice but Heikki Salonen, a collection which has crept up very quietly on me finally hit home for me and now that I pretty much love it in its entirity… thanks to the first hand feel of it at TCS who I think are the only stockist Salonen has in London.  The trousers which has an inexplicable texture have made their way home with me and so thoughts on Salonen's collection will follow soon…

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What I won’t be eating…

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>> I know I know, it’s harsh to reduce the city of Montreal to a dish that is probably neither symbolic nor representative of its full culinary delights.  However, I know next to nothing about the city other than this dish here because people seem to love banging on about the lushness of ‘poutine’ – fries doused in gravy with cheese curds.  I’m fairly confident that I won’t concur given that I don’t really eat cheese.  So I know what I WON’T be eating…

But perhaps some of you can enlighten as to what I WILL be doing… it’s travel-tips hunting time again.  Any words of wisdom regarding what to do, what to see, what to eat (other than things involving cheese…), where to shop in Montreal would be much appreciated…

The few things I am sure of are… I know I’ll be finally meeting and putting a face to the lovely personality of Angie of I Heart Norwegian Wood… seeing the Complex Geometries boys… seeing Reborn for real… but I’d like to of course, cram the days with plenty more given that I’m there until Sunday.

Poutine