WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT LONDON’S CHILTERN STREET
ONE OF LONDON'S BEST KEPT RETAIL SECRETS
Nestled in a quiet upscale part of London, a stone's throw from Baker Street station, is one of London's best kept retail secrets. Chiltern Street has been going from strength to strength with a rich 40 year history of providing bespoke, high-quality goods to the discerning shopper, but when global brand Club Monaco chose it as the address of its second standalone menswear store in Europe, it was time to investigate what exactly this street has to offer.
The first thing that strikes you when you chat to the retailers on Chiltern Street, is the sense of community that exists in the enclave that cannot be replicated on a typical British high street. The shops are small, but each has been creative with their space, housing on-site workshops and even customer dining areas to appeal to the clientele who wants conversation along with their shopping experience. Each shop is however, very individual, and there isn't a sense of competition between the retailers, but more of a feeling of synergy with each store strengthening the offer of the area as a whole.
The newest kid on the block is Club Monaco, a Canadian brand founded in Toronto in 1985 which has become a major player and anchor in the American retail landscape. However, this is not obvious from its discreet presence on the street and it's clear that the company decided to take a different direction with this store. The shop fit felt much more like a congenial living room than the imposing monochrome showroom that was more typical of its stores in the US. Everything on display was for sale. Customers could pick up anything from vintage cufflinks and cocktail shakers to cashmere blend suiting and trademark chinos, reinforcing the message that the brand could cater for a range of needs.
The store has been very well received so far, even by American customers, and there are plans to open more around London. When asked if the other stores will follow in the vein of this one, a spokesperson for Club Monaco replied "Judging from Redchurch Street to this store, it carries a different vibe. This kitchen here is probably our pride and joy. Having this in our store is part of our identity as well. It's not a gimmick, but it's really functional and our clients really enjoy it. It's a nice place to relax and have a little catch up as well."
Another jewel in the crown on Chiltern Street is Trunk Clothiers and Trunk Labs. Both are owned by the charismatic Managing Director Mats Klingberg, with Trunk Clothiers celebrating five years on the street this month. This store prides itself on really knowing their core customers and anticipating how the clothing works in their lifestyles and wardrobes, particularly under the pressures of travel.
When asked what their customers keep coming back for, Klingberg replied: “In general people like the smart casual look that we do and also the unconstructed jacket/suit that's very easy to travel with. Our clothes are not too precious; they're quite expensive many of them, but they're very nice materials. Most of the jackets, you can just fold up, put it in your bag and when you get to your destination, you just take it out and put it on and you look smart."
Although the team keeps a small list of constantly stocked brands (such as Boglioli, Incotex, Barena and Alden), they also experiment with new labels not available anywhere else in London. On average they introduce five new brands per season, but this is not done on impulse as the stock is very carefully edited so as not to confuse customers. As a result of this approach working so well, they decided to open Trunk Labs two years ago a few doors down.
Stocking a range of accessories and homeware suitable for the man who has everything, this store serves as the perfect complement to the simple, yet stylish feel of the brand as a whole. Not content on simply providing great pieces that they know their clients will want, Trunk also have an in-house brand which will soon be expanded to include a made-to-measure service to further personalise what they already have to offer.
Monocle Cafe and The Chiltern Firehouse round out the luxury offering on the street and further reinforcing the relaxed, yet upscale feel that is perpetuated by the retailers. If you're looking for lesser known brands which will become staples in your wardrobe, teamed with staff who take the time to listen to your needs, then Chiltern Street will soon become one of your favourite retail destinations.