January 02 2011
There is nothing predictable about Shoreditch store Hostem. From the rough-hewn, love-worn interior by design duo JamesPlumb – heavy metal rails, Swedish linen curtains, reclaimed wood floors and a chandelier of antique lampshades – to the totally unexpected agglomeration of fashion labels, this is the most interesting menswear store to début in London in the past 10 years.
“I wanted to open a space in which I could support the brands I really believe in,” says owner James Brown. The result is an independent-minded, gallery-like emporium, with three conjoining rooms showcasing brands as carefully considered as they are concisely edited. “The rooms allowed us to create a series of different worlds,” says Brown, “with a healthy tension between them.” The first is the lightest and brightest, housing “Hostem essentials”: clothes as beautifully crafted as they are easy to wear, such as a lightweight knitted blazer by Adam Kimmel (£925) or a cashmere tuxedo jacket by the Elder Statesman (£1,700).
The second room is darker and moodier, in keeping with its niche, directional brands, including Damir Doma, first stocked in the UK by Hostem, and Boris Bidjan Saberi, with his signature severe leather jackets (from £1,500) and boiled-wool wraps (from £800). The more established Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens are bestsellers, as is a range of distressed leather boots by Augusta (£1,200). Accessories by Curiouser + Curiouser start at £240 for a silver walnut pendant while large soft-structure leather courier bags are £565. The label’s designer, Alice Waese, has just turned her hand to clothes, with layered leather and boiled-wool jackets from £2,500. Tucked in a corner is a wonderful range of products by the Florentine company Santa Maria Novella, founded in 1612; there are digestive aids, jams and liqueurs, but most popular are the intense, heady fragrances (£100).
The last room is a new concept inviting designers to take up short-term residence in the space. The first is LA-based DR Romanelli, who has collaborated with brands from Nike and Levi’s to Dunhill and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Among his Prescription Shoppe offerings are one-off cashmere pieces (from £650) created with recycling-savvy brand A Love Moment. Most unusal are three unique baby sculptures with monocle-toting skull heads (£5,000-£12,000); most desirable are reworked vintage Nike sports jackets (from £900). Wear them with a Superior Labor canvas and leather holdall (£330).
As a result of target-busting sales, the store has already expanded into the basement since it opened last summer, selling a range of streetwear with an emphasis on cult Japanese brands. If, for example, you want a pair of customised jeans by Mastermind (from £1,500), you’d better get a move on: they are only made in batches of three.