Image: Thomas Degner
November 08 2013
I’m back on the bike
this morning and feeling very energised. It’s straight into a retail meeting.
There are seven of us in the showroom sitting around the big wooden table.
We’re sitting on a set of chairs that we made for an exhibition at the V&A.
Bums on Seats we called it. The directors
are trying to bring about some changes, but the managers are taking considerable
convincing. It’s quite an exhausting morning but, in the end, there is general
agreement to give some changes a fair chance, as well as some other positive
Our shop on Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch has been open since 2005. One lucky day, I noticed that a Nigerian video shop that doubled as a hairdresser and internet café (even though it was rarely open and had no sign of a computer) had been cleared out.
I approached the council who hadn’t realised their tenant had done a runner and after jumping through a couple of hoops, the lease was mine. My studio was two doors away and I had one assistant; we ran a computer cable over the top of the off-licence next door and single-handedly manned the shop.
The street is one of the most beautiful in London, in my view. It’s on the Boundary Estate, which was among the first UK social housing schemes, begun in 1890 and officially finished in 1900. At the end of the road is Arnold Circus, a large roundabout with gardens and a wooden bandstand at the centre. There are several mature plane trees around it and Andy Willoughby's well-kept planting changes constantly with the seasons.
Anyway, back to retail. I feel it’s time our shoestring shop has a really good refit. We want to have a place that reflects the simple, clean construction and beautiful materials of our bags. The area is now home to many international and respected labels and we need to be able to stand up next to them. Rupert Blanchard has already done a lot of work with us and designed and fitted our shop at the junction of Golborne and Portobello Roads. I trust his judgement and taste, but we are on a tight schedule so planning is essential.
At the end of the day, I walk down to the reopening of the Sunspel shop. They have just moved back into their premises on Redchurch Street (they had to move out while the building above was expanded, like so many of the now-very-valuable properties in the area). There is a huge and trendy young crowd – I know lots of the people there and chat my way through two beers and some canapés. Re-energised by the beer, I cycle home, overtaking at least two people – a very rare event.