Margaret Howell store shot by The New York Times*

My friends and I talk about starting a new business just about every other day and it always boils down to the same thing - that feeling that market forces are just not delivering things the way we like them.

I often feel the same way about clothes. It often feels like everything at an affordable price point is disposable and even what is good has to make way for the new. I love it when a shop/brand repeats its classics over and over again, season after season, so that you never worry about the day you need to replace those yellowing white t-shirts, or perhaps that perfectly cut oversized shirt. The more expensive labels do this of course, but they're not always within my means. 

I appreciate it when mass market brands - the last place you expect such a thing - faithfully reproduce things season after season. I expect them to drop it any minute, or for the quality to decline after a few seasons, but while they're there I feel like "oh, someone making the decisions recognises a good thing when they see one". I wish they would do that more. 

Remember when Selfridges opened a pop-up "Forever Shop" selling classic things that have somehow endured our fickle natures? I would like to open a Forever Shop, for good, stocking (in no particular order):
  • Converse All-stars(well, duh)
  • The entire "Snowdow Blue" shirt collection from ACNE 
  • Ballet flats (Repetto? Porselli? Anyone that makes them over and over again.)
  • Chukka boots (Good enough for Steve McQueen is good enough for me)
  • Plain leather flat sandals
  • Jeans (probably hard to pin down one label though)
  • Classic knit sweaters, like the kind A.P.C does so well
  • Peacoats
  • Military-style parkas (I'll hunt down vintage ones)
  • Linen camisoles for hot days
  • Those linen shirts Uniqlo made for summer this year (I hope they bring them back)
  • A particular white cotton tee Massimo Dutti made two years ago
  • Marinieres (Petit Bateau? St James?)
  • Havaianas flip flops in black
  • Dieppa Restrepo Dandy loafers
  • Driving shoes (I want Massimo Dutti to keep making the ones I got three years ago)
  • Rolex Submariner, Timex Classic Military watches, Cartier Tanks
  • The Celine Phantom Cabas (perfect giant day tote!)
  • Plain canvas totes
  • Paul Smith socks and scarves (always a whimsical mix of colour and print to be found)
  • Margaret Howell tuxedos
  • Le Labo perfumes and candles
  • Ray Ban aviators
Okay I need to get back to doing real work, but tell me, what would you want to see in a "Forever" shop? (Suggestions outside of clothing welcome!)

*And yes, my imaginary store would resemble the Margaret Howell store in London 

Picture from nytimes


miss sophie said…
have been thinking about something similar recently - we should discuss in more detail this weekend :)

i would add the Acne plain wool scarves and steven alan shirts to the list...and perhaps a small selection of vintage Hermes and Chanel.
Nomadic D. said…
This totally cracked me up, as I too am coming up with a new (ingenious, of course) business plan every week. Course, I do none of it. But still, the intention is there. And yes, one of them is to create a beautifully curated, yet magically affordable, shopping experience where all the wonderful perfect specimens of every clothing (and home linens etc while we're at it) are always available. Pipe dreams, I'm sure, but it sure would be awesome.
Fleurette said…
hahaha, you're not alone! i've had this idea for years too and it's kinda my "backup" plan if i never get into uni, haha. the idea pops up especially when i try to get a simple tee or a black "tailored"-ish skirt but don't find neither of them anywhere in my town. your list is spot on, i would too add church's brogues (i know you're not a fan).
Amanda said…
Oooh, interesting! Such a reflection of your own wardrobe :-) Does Margaret Howell tuxedo count as blazers, because I'm totally having that in my store! And also, I am totally stealing this idea for my blog. And I don't know why I sound like a high school kid for the 90s but this is making me all kinds of excited!
Kali said…
I like this image of the "forever shop"! There are definitely some things I would have loved to be able to purchase again once they broke/wore out.

In my forever shop there would be St James bretons, definitely, Diptyque candles, côte du rhône red wines (the best years), a selection of the best Xbox 360 games, older seasons of Comptoir des Cotonniers (before it lost its identity), repetto ballet flats, and all colours of Always Skinny by GAP, the best fitted jeans I found to my taste so far.
Sue said…
The perfect grey cashmere jumper and Bass Weejun loafers - a design classic. They remind me of when I was a young (16) student and I traipsed the Kings Road to look for them. I'll probably think of something else after I send this comment.
Anonymous said…
Funny, I knew this was going to be a MH shop before the picture fully loaded and all I could see were the lamps.
I would say high-waist chinos (comme des garçons) and jeans (yohji yamamoto) that have a roomy straight leg. Floor length cotton skirts. Nice cotton socks in every color with a subtle small polka dot pattern. A collection of the Birkenstock styles that I have worn for years, and a promise to keep selling them regardless of trends. Wool blazers that have zero padding in the shoulders. Cardigans with elbow patches. A "dogs welcome" sign.
And and and
Eileen said…
I enjoyed this post very much! For me, it would be a particular navy cotton dress with cuffed sleeves from A.P.C. that is so Sofia Coppola, that lace blouse by Isabel Marant from 2009 (in cotton and stunning embroidery) and skinny tapered jeans from Uniqlo.
Ammu said…
What a lovely thought. My forever store would include perfectly-cut coats in a few classic shapes (princess, cocoon, peacoat), cropped blazers with 3/4 sleeves, Brooks Brothers oxford shirts, Bloch ballet flats, cocoon dresses in wool, cotton and silk, cashmere and vicuna scarves, quilted leather purses, draped silk-blend tees, striped linen tees and boyish sweaters, high-quality merino and cashmere tights, Greek and Indian flat leather sandals, Ferragamo Vara heels, statement jewelry by Mawi, pearls from Mikimoto, classic diamond studs and solitaire necklaces, no-fuss leather bags in classic shapes. And lots of books - the coffee-table variety, poetry, the great epics and classic novels from around the world. And the soundtrack would involve lots of Leonard Cohen and Roxy Music :)
Alexandra said…
I've had this thought too.. But I'm not very business minded! I'd add the Sofia Coppola for LV bag, Burberry trench and PJs from Charvet.
What a great idea! I can't keep up with trends but when in doubt, I head right back to my classics. It'll be great to have a store that carry mostly classics, well edited of course. I feel really intimidated when I walk into Zara. Their stock turnover is so fast that it makes my head spin.
Anonymous said…
haha, love everyone's list! Cotton round-neck tees, button-down shirts, oxford shirts, blazers, and cigarette trousers. And Stella McCartney lace undergarments too!
Anonymous said…
funny how many people may have the same idea.. there is a great demand for ''forever shop" -clear indication that the business is going to be a success:)
I was dreaming about something like '' the best of" where u can always find
5 perfect white t shirts -different cuts
2 perfect pair of jeans - skinny and boyfriend cut
Lin, could u recommend me some tailor in Bangkok?
I need to copy my favourite vintage dress..
hannah-rose said…
yep yep yep. I wish this existed! All of these are speaking to me so much at the moment, I might add a pair of cropped tapered trousers (acne do good ones!) but really they're not essential. It's almost like those resort shops, you know, the ones in the Maldives or whatever, that exist solely to equip the rich and famous with everything they might need on a sandy getaway... I remember reading an article about a particularly luxe one in the hamptons or something that had lots of breezy dresses, lisa marie fernandez bikinis and all those little string bracelets with diamond encrusted charms on them... seriously it's a thing! Start one, maybe online. Build it and they will come.


ps. speaking of jewellery you haven't got any jewellery on this list!! something simple, like brushed gold thing bangles. Me & Ro i always a crowdpleaser..
lin said…
miss sophie: After seeing your scarf in action, I can see why you favour them!

Nomadic D: I lack entrepreneurial instincts as well, haha.

Yes, I forgot about homeware! But I suppose it's best to start with a small list and then add it on.

Fleurette: I love shops that feel like the owners really love what they offer and their vision is reflected in the store - of course the other half of the equation is making sure it's profitable!

How are those brogues working out? I can't pull them off but it doesn't make them any less classic :)

Amanda: I know, I am shamelessly assuming that everything I want is what everyone else wants. Can't wait to see your post on this!

Kali: Love your list; nicely balanced out by interests outside of clothes! The fast fashion classics are the ones that I mourn when I can't find them anymore, come to think of it. Because they were such good buys.

Sue: I actually took a while to come up with the rest after the first 10 items...and then I had to refine it as I went along because for some things, it's classic in the most abstract sense, like jeans - everyone favours a different cut.

editor: I love how distinct MH is, without shouting it.

I really love how certain brands like Birkenstocks manage to stay the same and yet relevant. It makes me optimistic about how good design will endure and will always have an audience.

eileen: I know, there are these particular special items you wished were available forever, because you wear them knowing with a sinking feeling that one day they'll be too worn out...

Ammu: All excellent choices, and I like the sense that the things would come from all over the world.

Alexandra: Neither am I! Which is why this is unlikely to happen.

Sigh, that SC bag...

Marlene: Their stock turnover is so fast, and yet always the same, if that makes sense. It's like their things create a great impression from a distance but taken apart or up close, it's something quite forgettable.

navy slate: your list is very close to my heart, right down to the stella mccartney underwear!

diana: that's a great idea, especially when everyone needs different cuts.

i'm afraid i don't know of any good tailors in bangkok, i went to a random one years ago in a hotel but wasn't impressed by the shirt they made for me.

hannah-rose: yes, and i think it all comes down to the fact that i want a place that isn't about "seasons" and the latest collections.

i know, i have a failure of imagination when it comes to accessories...which is why i cld never do this alone if i want to turn it into a real thing; i am blind to certain things!

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