The British have always been eccentric and self-expressive when it comes to clothes, and our unique take on ‘style’ is all thanks to our designers and where they set up shop to share such delights. For us, King’s Road takes the cake.
While the ‘Chelsea girl’ is still thriving in her 60s mini skirt and classic Chelsea boots, there was once an unforgettable movement that made King’s Road the fashion phenomenon it is today.
In recent years, King’s Road has had a similar look to most high-streets across the city, adorned with an added touch of affluence, of course, but its trendsetting ways have always been the centre of attention.
Earning its reputation for setting some of the most iconic and exciting trends, King’s Road offers a shopping experience that other high streets should take notice of. From the 50s to the 90s, there was nowhere in London that could compete with Chelsea and its avant-garde reputation.
Mary Quant introduced herself to the London fashion scene after opening her first boutique on King’s Road in 1955 when the youths of Chelsea were discovering more distinctive pieces and finding uniqueness in their fashion efforts.
Chelsea was soon established as the boutique hotspot of London and by the 1960s, King’s Road customers were very much those of celebrity status.
In a time where it was the norm for teenagers to be moulded into younger versions of their parents, Mary Quant said farewell to traditional ‘Madam shops’ and opened her shop Bazaar at 138a King’s Road, where she produced clothing intended to make people feel ‘young and alive’.
The difference between Bazaar and any other clothing shop was exactly that, it was more than just a clothing shop. Mary’s shop had a cafe in the basement, offered free drinks throughout the evening, played the latest music and was the prime place to be seen before heading off on a night out.
Mary Quant led the retail storm by modelling her designs paired with matching coloured and patterned tights for each look. This was just one incredibly innovative idea during her reign and, even though she didn’t come up with the mini skirt concept originally, she certainly made them pervasive across Chelsea and London as a whole.
London is full of out of the ordinary boutiques and couture shopping experiences that have always celebrated diversity and the latest trends and Dame Vivienne Westwood and partner Malcolm McLaren chose to open their first store, Let it Rock, in Chelsea in 1971.
With her dedicated contribution to the punk movement of the 1970s, Westwood is still one of the most influential fashion designers in the UK today. The hippie years were a lasting look in the late 1960s but Vivienne Westwood wanted more, particularly to bring back inspiration from memorable 1950s looks such as the teddy boys and their love for music and rebellion.
The store rebranded copious amounts of times, never failing to showcase signature collections perfect for each period. Even over 40 years later, her legacy continues at a level of expertise most designers will require a lifetime to achieve. She pushed boundaries with provocative slogans on t-shirts, leather statement pieces and more of a hardcore approach to a once bashful generation.
One element that sets King’s Road apart from many other high streets is its celebration of independent boutiques. While traditionally popular stores still rise tall, those credited boutiques stand beside them, with just as much confidence to give shoppers an experience they will remember.
Independent shops offer a unique encounter compared to most brick and mortar stores, most filled with pieces you wouldn’t find anywhere else or even online. New and upcoming brands have plenty of opportunities to get their name known, all the while providing individuality and character to the high street.
Local independent shops are what make Sloane Stanley the most vibrant neighbourhood in London. If it isn’t Mary Quant’s eccentric window displays and novel checkered tights, it’s Vivienne Westwood’s showstopping leather statements strutting through King’s Road.
The fashion legacy of King’s Road remains an unforgettable one at least, and as time goes on, more and more shops are opening and creating a new world of trends and memories.
The Sloane Stanley estate welcomes retailers with open arms. Whether you are looking to rent a pop-up or commercial shop, King’s Road has a variety of spaces to rent the perfect spot for your business. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can support you.