When new app Frock Advisor asked me to take part in their Fashion Independents Day’ Grand Prix yesterday with the aim of visiting as many independent fashion stores in London as possible, garnering maximum retweets for the win, I was well up for it.  In other words, spending the day visiting shops that I’ve supported in the past and catching up with them, visiting new ones and all the while supporting independent bricks and mortar stores, that are toughing it out in harsh retail conditions in London.  A big fat hell yes to that.  Frock Advisor is a new app that aims to connect shoppers with independent boutiques around them, building up people’s profiles with lust items and loves.  Ok social shopping is nothing new but encouraging people to “find something different” as their tagline puts it, is bang on the agenda.

It certainly coincides with the release of The True Cost directed by Andrew Morgan (out on Netflix and iTunes) today.    On Tuesday night, I participated in a Guardian Live panel with my guiding stars in the ethical fashion sector Lucy Siegle and Orsola de Castro, designer Wayne Hemingway and Morgan after a screening of the film.  It was difficult to address all of the issues that this potent film brought up but what’s important is the beginning of the conversation of how we buy our clothes at large.  The film did a brilliant job of succinctly summing up what the problem is.  Now we can go and seek out the solutions, and have fun doing so at the same time.

I motioned that there isn’t one singular and correct way of having “guilt-free” wardrobes (and in any case, I’m against being ridden with guilt when shopping…).  Buying from independent boutiques is certainly one partially ethical way of opening our eyes to alternatives that exist beyond the high street and mainstream stores.  The optimistic glass half-full angle is that the act of buying isn’t bad but that instead, we could be buying well and make that bit of buying an interesting experience at the same time.

Furthermore the other crux of Fashion Independents Day is that we can all collectively seek out independent stores to support a fashion industry that is constantly coming out with the new.  Whilst Style.com busies themselves with their e-commerce venture and Yoox and Net-a-Porter become a joint behemothic force, indie stores still have a huge role in playing when a) supporting young designers and b) becoming the first port of call for shoppers to familiarise themselves with these new names and new brands.  And in the case of vintage stores… well, what comes around goes around.  London’s rich pick of vintage isn’t celebrated enough.  Ever year, one important vintage landmark seems to disappear, under pressure from high rents and changing shopping habits.  I’d love to see Fashion Independents Day made a regular thing, to encourage people to go off the beaten path with their shopping.  If not for other people’s benefit, than at the very least it gives me an excuse to shop properly in my own city and keep updated on what’s happening on those all-important rails…

On my own whistle-stop tour of ten boutiques in London, I bought/learnt the following…

… Bag designer Kate Sheridan‘s new-ish store on Lower Clapton Road is a beaut, selling not just her own wares but other brands like Bonne Maison socks and printed pieces by LF Markey.  Might have to do a 253/254 detour to E5 more often…

Pelicans and Parrots (and its sibling store Pelicans and Parrots Black) is still Stokey’s prime call for vintage…

House of Hackney‘s fashion offering has come a long way from printed tees and sweatshirts and I’m still pondering the need for the beautiful ‘Martello’ chair

… So.Much.Change. at Celestine Eleven since I first wrote about them.  Owner Tena Strok has changed up the buy so that it’s slightly more affordable and contemporary but no less interesting with labels like Claire Barrow, Rejina Pyo and Dorateymur…

Miista shoes‘ pop-up store on Redchurch Street is on until 7th June but they’ve done a roaring trade selling their S/S 15 Future Athens collection, full of pastel patent finishes and sporty details.  Here’s hoping they find a permanent physical space..

… I hadn’t been to The Laden Showroom on Brick Lane since I was at uni but to my mind, there’s no place quite like it in London with its assembly of super affordable indie labels.  It is the price-point alternative to the high street and is good fun to browse.  I loved the neon screen printed pieces by Typical Freaks

… Lamb’s Conduit Street is a bricks and mortar shopping delight and Darkroom is its biggest gem.  Founders Lulu and Rhonda have grown the store significantly since its beginnings with their own corner at Selfridges but their original store remains the better destination.  On this visit, I discovered that old Style Bubble fave Michelle Lowe-Holder has started doing plaited leather clutches that match up perfectly with Darkroom’s primary hued colour scheme…

… I need to race back to BOB by Dawn O’Porter’s pop-up on Monmouth Street as I loved their rail of designer vintage, and I believe their pop-up is ending pretty soon.  But on a more affordable scale, there’s fun to be found in Dawn O’Porter’s own range of clothes; especially in the latest addition – a Dirty Dancing inspired ‘I carried a watermelon’ skirt’ designed by Karen Mabon

Machine-A is obviously a primary destination for both myself and Steve.  It’s the boutique that I do go to frequently because I categorically *ALWAYS* find something to buy here.  I only had five minutes to browse on my Grand Prix shopathon but I’ll definitely be back to convince myself I need Ambush’ denim jumpsuit or some of the Diesel Tribute neoprene pieces…

… Finally, I made my way back to One of a Kind, the vintage store that used to feel so intimidating when I was a young teen exploring Portobello.  The prices were of course super scary back then.  Now though, with my more selective approach when it comes to vintage, I’m definitely going to task them with a list of specific designers to see if they can work their vintage-sourcing magic…

FIDAY21 From left to right, top to bottom: Clutching at Kate Sheridan’s geometric tote; Trying on Ambush’s denim jumpsuit at Machine-A; Getting to grips with “I Carried a Watermelon” skirt at BOB by Dawn O’Porter‘s pop-up store; Loading up on Pichulik Ndebele necklaces and bracelets at Darkroom; Discovering Typical Freaks‘ screen printed fun at The Laden Showroom; Scrambling for Claire Barrow at Celestine Eleven; Cycling to nowhere on Miista’s bike installation at their pop-up on until 7th June; Loving House of Hackney’s popular ‘Narcissa’ print; Getting into the carnival spirit at Pelicans and Parrots.  
FIDAY2

Comments (4)

  1. […] Fashion Independents All Rise […]

  2. Colour Me In says:

    This is a fantastic idea! It’s great to give recognition to amazing independents like House of Hackney
    Colour Me In Blog

  3. Great post! You look SOOO CUTE and LOVELY! 🙂

    XX,
    Fashion Blog
    Christina Key

    http://christinakey.com

    http://facebook.com/babywasborn1994

  4. Mia says:

    Can’t believe I’ve only just found this!! It’s amazing, love it x

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