“We’re both rock ’n’ roll freaks,” says Jess Morris, co-founder of fashion brand Rockins with her life and business partner, artist and illustrator Tim Rockins. “All our scarves have a music theme; the graphics – designed by Tim – are rock ’n’ roll emblems and are packaged in cassette boxes, CD cases or record covers.” What started as a DIY Christmas gift for a coterie of high-profile, west London friends, including Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Bobby Gillespie, rapidly turned into a £1m business, and now a store on London’s Golborne Road.
Rockins Emporium sits on a corner of the street at the northern end of Portobello Road in the shadow of Trellick Tower, the Ernö Goldfinger-designed modernist block that is home to legendary vintage store Rellik (another Kate Moss haunt). The shop’s gold-metallic, hand-lettered signage immediately catches the eye and this, together with the shooting stars painted onto the interior’s charcoal-grey walls and the background soundtrack, are the work of Rockins.
Morris, a successful fashion PR for over 20 years (having started on the shop floor at Vivienne Westwood, she graduated to head of communications before moving to Agent Provocateur as marketing director), says that retail is part of her DNA. “My mum used to have a vintage store in Southsea,” she says. “I worked there on Saturdays selling clothes to the psychobillies and punks. I like making a shop come alive.”
Launched in 2017, the store is designed along the lines of a 1960s boutique – customers are encouraged to hang out with a coffee on a velvet sofa laden with printed-silk Rockins cushions (£90) and surrounded by potted palms. “We want to make people feel relaxed and happy,” says Morris. But it’s the pop-cultural references from the 1970s that really inform the company’s perspective. “Obviously, there’s a strong ’70s aesthetic to what we do; that decade saw the birth of electric music, which resonates with us.” This affinity with ’70s music led to a case of mutual attraction when Rockins collaborated on a range of silk scarves for The Rolling Stones for the band’s No Filter tour.
Having moved from bias-cut silk scarves to biker jackets (handpainted and exclusive to the store, from £500) and a range of “rock ’n’ roll basics”, the shop has become a haven for glam rockers of all ages. On the rails hang blazers (from £375) in corduroy, stretch cotton velvet and black denim; printed-silk maxi and slip dresses (£495); striped silk pyjamas (£495); and an array of silk shirts (from £325) emblazoned with shooting stars, snake print and other showbiz insignia. But the scarves (super-skinny, £85; fringed, £165), based on 1920s foulards, are the real stars – rows of designs cascade down the wall beside the till, while behind the counter silk bandanas are framed to look like album sleeves.
At the weekend, says Morris, the store becomes part of a vintage-fashion lovers’ trail: “People come in and buy T-shirts, silk shirts and loon pants. Then they get something from the market and go on to Rellik. So it feels like our natural home.”