What I Know About Style

Birgit Israel, Exchange



Interior designer, stylist and collector Birgit Israel on working hard, playing hard and the people of Fulham Road and Gloucester Road

What inspired you to start selling vintage fashion?

My own closet was getting too big and I really love vintage and quirky fashion – something a bit different. I’m also a jewellery collector.

Who are your favourite designers?

The ones I’m wearing: Dries Van Noten and Marni.

How do you source your rare vintage items?

My background includes working in interiors and with antiques as well as in fashion. I’ve been in the business for a long time, so I know a lot of people who collect and deal with vintage and antiques.

Why did you choose Gloucester Road for your second boutique location?

I live in the area and I noticed that there’s nothing else like it here. There is a good mix of people in the neighbourhood which is reflected in-store: we have so many labels.

Your original shop is in Fulham Road. How do the locations compare in terms of people’s style?

Fulham Road attracts a younger crowd, while Gloucester Road is a wealthier area and people look a bit more polished.

What’s currently your most affordable item in store?

The vintage bird and snail broaches are £20 each.

And your most expensive?

A very rare piece of Elsa Schiaperelli jewellery which is £2,500.

Who are your customers?

Stylists and people who live in the area come in with their things to sell and then spend it in the shop – I’m just providing a platform for people to exchange fashion. This is a really fun place.

Any celebrities?

Yoko Ono was in here last week.

How would you describe your style?

Classic with a touch of glamour.

What are you most proud of?

Being completely independent.  I can do what I like with my businesses, which gives me a lot of freedom. People usually have to fit into a box, but I’ve built my box, or rather a house with rooms.

What’s next?

I have an area in mind for another boutique. I also want to do more interior design work.

What’s your philosophy on life?

Work hard and play hard.

Exchange, 72 Gloucester Road, London, SW7; 020 7052 0028

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