One of the starting points for this season’s mens’ and womens’ collections was an old roll of pianola paper for a song called Better Take Me Home by Dick Watson from 1963. To read more about the collections click on the links below.
Take a look at the new trailer for Ben Whishaw’s new film, Lilting. It looks like he, and some of the other characters, have gone to town on Folk a bit. See if you can spot a few of our pieces. In cinemas from 8 August.
Many of you that come to our Lambs Conduit Street store will have met Ruaraidh who works in the store part time whilst also pursuing his acting career. After his success at last year’s Edinburgh Festival he has created another one man show called Boxman which is a dark comedy written and performed by Ruaraidh and directed by Tim Stark. It will premier at the Gilded Balloon at this years Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014. Come along and join us for one of his preview nights in London next week – click below for details.
We don’t like wasting any space here at Folk. So when barbers Lee Machin and Tom Bushnell were looking for a workspace in the area, the basement of our women’s shop on Lambs Conduit Street seemed the obvious solution. For about a year and a half now, the two have been offering classic men’s haircuts with a wash and finish as well as beard trims and are looking into offering traditional shaves as well.
They have over 20 years experience between the two of them and although Lee initially trained as a women’s hairdresser, they both prefer to stick to men’s. ‘I tried to get back into doing women’s but it’s too much hard work,’ jokes Lee. ‘Two hours of sticking hair extensions in and I’d had enough.’ Tom did things completely the other way round: ‘I trained as a barber first. I did women’s hair as well for a bit but quickly realised I preferred doing men’s hair, so I just honed my skills on that. I was always led to believe that it was best to be a jack of all trades and do all aspects of hair, but now I realise more and more it’s actually more important to concentrate on one aspect and carve out your own niche.’
Tom and Lee both agree that the image of the traditional barber has improved in the last couple of years and barbers have started to command a lot more respect. They explain that even as recent as a couple of years ago, if you only did men’s hair, it was seen as a hairdresser who didn’t quite make the cut (excuse the pun). Lee remembers how he wasn’t even allowed to use clippers or thinning scissors in the unisex salons he used to work in. It was seen as cheating. But in terms of classic barbering these are essential tools to create a good, sharp haircut. ‘They can actually make a haircut look ten times better,’ explains Tom. ‘It’s sharper and creates a completely different look. You just need to learn how to use these tools properly.’
So how hard was it to create a barbershop in the basement of a women’s clothes shop? They wanted something easy and no-nonsense and the space is still, as the guys point out, ‘a work in progress’. It is filled with bits and pieces they found over the years at car boot sales, vintage shops and on ebay. Tom: ‘I think we just wanted to strip it back to basics, create a place where you can come and get a decent haircut, a bit of conversation, without too much of a fuss.’
At the moment the guys don’t advertise yet, so most clients are either existing ones they have known for years, or new ones they got by worth of mouth. Although it might have been easier to have a proper shop front, they like to see their location in a basement as an advantage. Tom: ‘It’s all a little bit more personal and as a client you’re not on show in a window. So you can relax and that takes the pressure off. We don’t want people to think it’s really exclusive or pretentious.’ ‘We sometimes get tagged with words like invite only and secret, but it’s not at all,’ agrees Lee.
The two barbers first met about four years ago, working at a womenswear show at London Fashion Week, where they both felt ‘like two ducks out of a pond who bonded over Red Wing shoes.’ They still work on shows together, but only men’s, in London and Milan, where Lee also heads up the Wella team for the Missoni show. I have done it every six months for about five years now,’ explains Lee. ‘I used to be in a team where we did about six shows in Milan and four in Paris. They were looking for more people so that’s how Tom got involved.’
Apart from their work on shows, Lee is also a session stylist for magazines and commercial clients. The guys work by appointment only so it’s advisable to call up in advance and make an appointment. ‘Traditionally a barber shop is a place where you walk in, take a seat and wait for your appointment,’ Tom explains. ‘But these are normally 20-minute haircuts. We book ourselves up for an hour with each customer, to allow enough time to give someone a decent haircut without having to rush.’
Folk Barber, 53 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB.
To make an appointment call 07500 062 511, £35 for a cut and finish.
A troop of 20 or so people descended on our store 6 months ago and we had a interesting, if a bit random, chat about what made Lambs Conduit Street a nice place to be. We said all the things that we liked about it – the quirky mix of independent businesses, the great sense of community both between the shopkeepers and the residents and the rare treat to have such a unique environment amongst the increasing sameness that exists on the high street these days.
These people were from the grandly titled Academy of Urbanism. They have annual awards for cities, towns and neighbourhoods that “foster, validate and celebrate excellence in place-making”. To our great pride they awarded Lambs Conduit Street the “great street” award. They are not the first commentators to have fallen for the street’s charms and although we have featured articles on the street before, we thought it was a good opportunity to bump them to the top of the blog – a few of our favourites below.
Clara Lacy has a BA Hons in Illustration from Camberwell College of Art, 2009. She has worked as an Illustrator both in London and New York. Fascinated by science and evolution, she takes inspiration from nature – animals in particular – how they express themselves – how she can interpret that and give them life and depth of character in her drawings.
Clara works from her studio in east London where she is amongst many creative talents. It has a real community feel. When she greets me at the door the first thing that hits me is the amount of light coming from the skylight. Her studio is simple and beautiful much like her work. For these prints, Clara has chosen to use a digital fine art printing process called Giclee, and the illustrations have been printed on Hahnemuhle photo rag paper.
Clara’s East London Studio
Q. When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
Pretty much when my biology teacher told me the syllabus had changed its focus from plants and animals to the human body and medicine. I decided I was no longer going to be a vet but try to become an artist. I have always been surrounded by art as both my parents are artists. I then studied animation for my foundation and when it came to choosing a degree course I knew that illustration was the direction I wanted to go in.
Q. What is your greatest inspiration?
The natural world.
Q. Who is your favourite artist?
I tried to answer this question recently and couldn’t. I admire so many artists, some I relate to through my own work and others are completely opposite but I really enjoy how we all see things differently. I’m loving Laura Carlins’ work at the moment, so much character. I also greatly admire Ernst Haeckel’s incredible studies.
Q. What is the difference between illustration and art?
This question is endlessly argued and there are many opposing views. It can be approached practically or emotionally and both practices have changed so much throughout history. I don’t think there is necessarily a straightforward answer.
I see myself as an artist and an illustrator. Different projects require different approaches. I was recently commissioned to create work for the Town Hall hotel in Bethnal Green. I created two tall panels of intricately drawn birds, and I adapted images from these panels to create a huge central light piece. I consider the panels art and the center piece illustration. I think this is because the panels are essentially works expressing emotion and the central light piece is an artifact with a practical purpose.
Q. What’s next?
I am currently working on new images for Folk influenced by Russian and Scandinavian folk art, flowers, animals, patterns. I am also in the process of making the Christmas decorations for the Royal Oak on Columbia Road, creating a centerpiece for the bar. So pop on down for a glass of mulled wine.
We have 3 prints available both online and also at our Lambs Conduit Street Women’s store. Limited to 15 of each print, they’d make an ideal gift for someone deserving. See them in our Xmas Gifts section.
On the cover of this months ICON magazine you will see one of our lovely customers, Steph. Steph and husband Tom are 6a Architects, based in Lambs Conduit St, and are responsible for such spaces as Raven Row, South London Gallery and more recently the new Paul Smith shop frontage on Albermarle St, Mayfair. Here she wears her Folk Lily Shoes in White Marble and her Sessun knit. ICON magazine October 2013 – well worth a look!
COMPETITION NOW CLOSED
Folk and Bestival have been friends for a long time now and we’ve designed their staff uniforms for many years. To celebrate the festival’s 10 year anniversary we’re doing a joint twitter competition with them. Up for grabs is a pair of tickets to Bestival, an exclusive reversible knitted bomber jacket with the Bestival pattern on the inside (see below) and a voucher for £500 for in store or online.
To enter the competition simply go onto twitter and RT our competition tweet and follow @folkclothing and @bestival.
If you’ve not got twitter just pop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with Bestival in the title and thats you entered.
Based on the top two floors of a 1930s industrial building on the edge of Clerkenwell, the Fourth Floor is a quietly brilliant hairdressing studio that likes doing things a bit differently. With no obvious shop front, the independent salon is accessed via an old goods lift, leading on to a bright, modern space with an incredible view of the city’s skyline. Owner Richard Stepney started the business back in 1990, when this part of town wasn’t quite the creative hub it is today. ‘Funnily enough I don’t think the overall area has changed that much, Richard explains when we visit him in the salon. ‘Bits of it have, like Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and Lambs Conduit Street but right around here it has still got that sort of no man’s land feel to it, which is nice. I think people still have to know about the Fourth Floor to come here.’
The people who do find their way up there (mostly by word-of-mouth) not only get a great cut and/or colour, but also get to enjoy the really rather lovely space, carefully put together by Richard over the years. There was never really a master plan to design it in a certain way. The original interior was created with the help from Tom Dixon (he used to have his studio on the ground floor) who provided most of the mirrors, custom shelving and the lighting design. The place then just changed organically over the years, with Richard regularly adding new pieces of art by the likes of Peter Liversidge and Stephanie Bergman, who also happen to be clients. ‘I can’t wait for a new piece of work I’m getting from a brilliant artist called Sophie Smallhorn, who is so clever with colour. She’s done this installation with thousands of coloured discs that will hang from the ceiling and I know that is something people will really enjoy and pick up on. For me that’s more important than redesigning or revamping the whole room.’
Richard started hairdressing straight from school. It was that classic thing of growing up just outside of London but feeling quite out of it at the same time. ‘Back then hairdressing was one of the things you could do to get involved in a creative business,’ he says. ‘So I came to London and started an apprenticeship at Vidal Sassoon. They had this big salon on Bond Street and that was almost entirely the appeal. It was more about being in town and being somewhere like that. That was in 1976. I know I sound like an old man but it was a great time, because in London that was Punk and hairdressing at that time was really part of it.’
After Sassoon and a couple of shared ventures in basements of shops, Richard got the opportunity to set up his own salon when he found the current space on Northington Street. The building, built in 1934, was originally a factory that made cinema projectors. Remnants of a once fully functioning screening room can apparently still be found in the basement and a corner of the salon still has the old tiles from when it was used as a spray room. ‘It’s that type of 1930s architecture that there’s not that much of and people really like it,’ Richard explains. ‘I really like it. It’s an old building with crumbling bits and bits that are worn out. There are lots of imperfections but for me that means it’s quite a welcoming place at the same time. I think if something is too perfect, it’s kind of intimidating. None of us have perfect homes and shiny shoes all the time. This is more human.’
The Fourth Floor isn’t the kind of place that would ever advertise or shout about its existence. It was all pretty much built up on word-of-mouth recommendations, which to this day is still the main way to get new clients. It suits Richard but he explains: ‘It does mean that when new stylists come here, it takes a lot longer to establish themselves. But once you do, you get the right type of people in who are going to like what we do and are therefore much more likely to come back.’ It also means that most of the staff (a small team of eight hairdressers with a couple of assistants) have all been there for a long time. ‘To have people stay, to have that stability is really important to me, it creates a much more relaxed environment. Which is nice for my clients as well.’
As if running the day-to-day business of the salon isn’t already enough, Richard likes to have his projects on the side. ‘It’s great working in a building like this and having to work on it and think about it,’ he says. ‘But having been here all this time, it’s important to have other things as well.’ About ten years ago he developed a bespoke line of hair products in close relationship with Italian chemist Corpolibero, who use centuries-old grooming formulas originally developed by Italian monks. ‘That whole process of finding formulas and working with a chemist all the way through to developing the packaging, was really fantastic. But it’s a long old process and I was just really lucky to find someone who was happy to do that with me, for such a relatively small project.’
To mark the 20-year anniversary of the salon, Richard decided to publish a clothbound book as a thank you for all his loyal customers (‘It was either that or a party. And I really didn’t want to have a party’). The book was a collaboration with his favourite design company North and featured interviews, designs and recipes from regular clients such as Jon Snow, Tom Dixon and Nigel Slater. ‘The nice thing about a book is that it goes on a shelf and isn’t in anyone’s way, you don’t throw it away. I just love that it is out there and people find it, pick it up and have a flick through.’
The latest project has been the Fourth Floor Corner Shop. For two months at the end of last year, the reception area of the salon was transformed into a temporarily shop showcasing a selection of goods from local businesses like Folk, Darkroom and Timothy Everest. The idea was to be part of the local community a bit more and getting to know the people behind other independent stores in the area and especially on Lambs Conduit Street. ‘The result was brilliant,’ Richard says. ‘I was thrilled to bits with it. The shop made it possible for people to come up and have a little look and see what we’re all about. But at the same time it was amazing how many of my customers said how they’d always meant to go to these places but never got round to it even though it’s right around the corner.’
So pleased with the result, Richard has now decided to make it a recurring event. ‘I like the idea of it developing and for it not to be the same thing every year. So the first one was all about the local community and for next time I’d like to do it slightly more curated and maybe commission more things from individuals. But I still have to think of a theme for this year, I haven’t got one yet!
4 Northington Street, WC1N 2JG, 02074056011, www.4thfloor.co.uk
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John and Paul Dawson are the owners of independent flower shop Dawson, a couple of doors down from Folk. It’s where we get all our flowers for the women’s shop and they also did the flowers for the first Folk wedding. So we caught up with the lovely Paul, or The Hoff as he’s known on the street (he likes wearing his red shorts whenever the sun is out), to talk about business and blooms.
‘We have known each other since we were about sixteen,’ Paul explains over a cup of tea at the back of the shop. ‘I did an apprenticeship for three years in a big flower shop by St Paul’s Cathedral. John’s dad was the director of that company, so that’s where we met. People always think we’re brothers and we do mess them about a bit, but we’re not. We just happen to share the same surname.’
Both come from a family of florists. Their dad’s were florists and so was Paul’s granddad, so it only made sense that the Dawson boys would follow in their footsteps. Although Paul dabbled in a bit of hairdressing at a young age (‘I have done all the manly jobs! I guess I just like working with women’) he wanted to own his own business and set up his first flower shop at the tender age of nineteen.
With Paul and John mostly out on the road, it’s the lovely Tasha, Katie, Daniella, Charlotte and Corinne in charge of the shop. And with spring finally on its way, there’s a whole array of pretty blooms on offer. Whether it’s tulips, anemones, sweet peas, hydrangeas or peonies (the last two being Tasha’s favourites), the girls will transform absolutely anything into the most beautiful bouquets.
43 Lamb’s Conduit St, WC1N 3NG, 020 7404 6893, www.dawsonflowers.net
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One of our favourite independent shops on the street has to be Darkroom, a concept store selling both fashion and interior design accessories just across the road from the Folk shops. Set up almost three years ago by lovely Rhonda Drakeford and Lulu Roper-Caldbeck, it has fast become a popular Lambs Conduit Street destination. We had a chat with Rhonda, who explained the idea behind the store and why they’re so happy to be on the street.
‘Concept store. It’s such a horrible term,’ says Rhonda. ‘It’s kind of what we’ve been branded with, but there’s actually a lot we’re trying to explore here.’ The girls describe their handpicked mix of accessories for men, women and the home as ‘an exploration of the crossover world between interiors and fashion and the juxtaposition of materials, scale and form.’ This results in carefully selected items such as interior products in unusual materials (the knitted poufs are a bestseller), indigenous African art that is put into a new context and statement jewellery by emerging designers and traditional, unknown craftsmen. Darkroom’s overall aesthetic is quite bold and graphic and really rather boyish considering these are two girls here running the space. ‘We have this kind of rule; no frills and no sparkles,’ explains Rhonda. ‘I guess it’s quite hard edged but we like to contrast that with really beautiful soft knits and textures, but always in a bold way with a strong colour or pattern.’
The two have been friends for more than 16 years and come from different creative backgrounds; Rhonda is one-half of design consultancy Multistorey and Lulu worked in fashion for designers as Camilla Staerck and Paul Smith. Rhonda had already been producing her own range of cushions with vintage African fabrics (which sold really well in Liberty and quite a few other places) when she collaborated on a textiles project with Lulu about five years ago. From there the idea to set up their own shop developed. ‘The plan was to start out really small,’ Rhonda recalls. ‘We were seeing it as more of a part-time thing and looked at some places on Colombia Road. But after about six months we were really getting into the idea of having a retail space. We had been casually looking for a small little place, when I was down here having lunch and saw the sign for this spot. It’s such a good location so we just decided to go for it.’
As most retailers on Lambs Conduit Street, the girls really appreciate the strong community feel of the area and the appreciation for small independents. Rhonda: ‘It’s so nice to be able to recommend your neighbours because everyone is doing something so different; we all complement each other in some sort of way. I think it works really well and it is mutually beneficial.’
The fact that the street also looks really pretty is an added bonus. ‘It’s just such a pleasant place to be,’ Rhonda agrees. ‘As much as I love areas like Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, the studios I’ve had there in the past were just really grim. I’m so happy to be on a nice street that is semi-pedestrianised and has trees. The fact that it’s not a place that is overly busy is also a good thing; our shop doesn’t work when there are too many people in. You need a little bit of space to walk around and take it all in, so we can cope with the level of traffic we have here. There is just nowhere else in London I’d rather be, I really like it here.’
Apart from concentrating on the online side of the business as well as developing their own range of products (from printed cushions to hand-painted plates, mirrors, blankets and knitted accessories) the girls organise themed exhibitions in the shop. After their Stolen from The Stijl project, Pagan season and T-R-I-B-A-L-A-L-A pop-tribal installation, we can’t wait to see what they will come up with next. Then there are dreams of expanding the shop with a café. ‘Just a bigger version of what we’ve got now,’ explains Rhonda. ‘But with a kitchen. We’d love to do kitchenware but it would be a bit weird to sell forks next to a handbag. A bigger space would be able to cope with that. It’s just a dream at the moment but it would be really nice.’
52 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LL, 020 7831 7244, www.darkroomlondon.com
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Some of our lovely Folk boys (you know who you are) are very serious about their caffeine fix and spend far too much time in The Espresso Room; Ben Townsend’s tiny independent coffee shop just around the corner from Lambs Conduit Street. To be fair, he does make the best cup of coffee in Bloomsbury, so we popped in to question him about all things coffee and his love for the area.
Living up to its name, the shop really is just the size of a room, cleverly decorated with functional furniture and high ceilings that make the place feel far more spacious than it actually is. In here Ben and his friendly team work their magic on a Synesso espresso machine (apparently it’s one of the best), using locally roasted beans from the Square Mile Coffee Roasters or Has Bean, preparing each cup of coffee with the utmost dedication.
Ben discovered his love for coffee when he was living in Australia, a country with a strong coffee-appreciating culture. ‘Before that I didn’t even really drink it,’ he explains. ‘I was always interested in food and wine but not coffee. I did this one-day Barista course, and that was it, I got the bug. I just had this moment of clarity, you know when you’re just walking down the street and it just came to me.’
Having decided that coffee was his calling, he then worked at Maltitude – one of Melbourne’s finest coffee shops – and trained as a Barista before returning to London with the idea for a business. So when the small shoebox of a space came up on Great Ormond Street, Ben jumped at it. He had always loved Lambs Conduit Street and independent shops like Folk and felt that being just around the corner, he’d still be close enough to be part of that community.
The Espresso Room’s customers are a mixed bag of Folk friends, local residents, people who work in the area, proper coffee aficionados as well as staff and visitors from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children across the road. Ben: ‘We get this incredibly interesting cross-section of people. We play this game where you can get any scientific, cultural or geographical question answered, because someone coming in will have that as their speciality. It is just amazing.’
So what is Ben’s idea of the perfect cup of coffee? ‘Oh, that is so difficult to say because it changes all the time. But it has to be the best of whatever it can be; sometimes really light, sometimes heavy, sometimes with milk, sometimes without, sometimes brewed, sometimes espresso. I guess what I look for in everything is interesting quality and that certainly goes for my coffee as well.’
Thanks so much for chatting to us Ben.
Go visit him and the team at –
The Espresso Room, 31-35 Great Ormond Street, WC1N 3HZ
All that gets thrown out of the window when you get the King wearing a few bits of Folk. Now we’re not talking Elvis, Henry or even Kong. There is only one true King, Eric Cantona, probably one of the coolest blokes on the planet, looking great in our rib roll neck and a pair of our slim pants. Seen here in Kronenburg‘s new ad.