Reports of Shoreditch’s demise have been numerous over the past 10 years, as mid-market brands have moved into east London looking for credibility. But on Calvert Avenue the independents are thriving – and none more so than O’Dell’s, the year-old lifestyle brainchild of Tom David O’Dell (first picture), a business graduate with a background in menswear. His eponymous shop is full of all the fashion, accessories and homewares he loves and personally owns. “I use the lime and basil variety of the cologne we sell [£30, by Musgo Real] and the organic Honest Man grooming products [from £10],” he says. “I wear the ties [£70, by Berg & Berg], I have the concrete planters [from £20, by Conpot] in my house and I give the scented candles [£20, by PF Candle Co] as gifts.”
As well as being a selection of “stuff Tom likes”, O’Dell’s is a showcase of independent, mostly British artisans – a concept born out of necessity. “When I first looked into opening a menswear-focused space, I found the logistics of working with big brands too difficult,” he says. But the small brands he chose instead have lent the store its uniqueness; indeed, a huge 80 per cent of the stock is exclusive in the UK, including the Nick Cabana watches (example in second picture, £150), and the backstory of each item links back to O’Dell in some way, such as the Portuguese colognes (from £20) he discovered years ago on holiday.
Some of the designers he works with were found on Instagram, while others were sourced in a more serendipitous manner – because they’re his neighbours. One such is Scott Fraser. “His collection is based on workwear,” explains O’Dell. “The jackets we sell [£249] are made in London from British wool, using buttons from a company in Soho that has been going for over a century.” Similarly, the khaki totes (£180) and rucksacks (£350) – in Scottish duck canvas with bridle-leather handles – are by Charlie Borrow, whose studio is just around the corner.
Among his most interesting selections are the midcentury-style rugs (£350), handwoven in a variety of contrasting undyed wools. “They’re by Rachel Scott who was a painter at the Royal College of Art in the late 1950s,” says O’Dell. “She spins the wool on a loom made by her brother in her Pimlico studio and each rug takes 70 hours to complete.”
The shop operates outside seasonal cycles: the classic Han Kjøbenhavn sunglasses (£135), for example, are available year round, as will be the in-house range of knitwear (from £125) O’Dell is developing, inspired, in part, by the Scottish manufacturers he is working with. “At these factories, it’s all about technique, patterns and yarns, rather than design,” he says. The first jumpers (£245) – “simple, classic crewnecks”, utilitarian but beautifully made – are in store now and proving popular with the Shoreditch locals. “The best thing about retail is actually talking to customers,” he says. “I’ve made friends with the people who come in here. I may run a lifestyle shop, but the lifestyle I’m selling is my own.”