What I Know About Style

Retro Woman


Retro Woman on their soft spot for London-based designers and the items we should be investing in this summer

So Retro Woman, what’s it all about?

Retro Woman is one part of the Music and Goods Exchange empire. Founded in 1967 by eccentric entrepreneur Brian Abrams, it is the longest running chain of buy-sell-trade shops in the UK and epitomises the counter-culture aesthetic that was so prevalent at the time. Retro Woman specialises in vintage and second hand designer clothing, offering affordable and unique pieces. You can find anything from vintage Chanel bags to Margiela Tabi boots, 1920s Gatsby gowns to current season Tom Ford.

Who’s your typical customer and do you have any celebrity fans?

It sounds so predictable but we really don’t have a typical customer. Our stock is hugely varied, so much so, that anybody can find something to suit their style. We’re quite atypical in that regard. From passing tourists to die-hard regulars, every day brings in new and familiar faces… We have a few celeb shoppers but we could never sell and tell!

Why was Notting Hill chosen as the location for the shop?

Possibly for its proximity to Portobello market, which draws a large alternative crowd. The area has always been extremely diverse with a unique vibe unlike anywhere else in London; it’s a very vibrant and lively area which definitely reflects our shop’s character. Portobello is eponymous with the ’60s scene and it’s nice to think that it still has a little of that magic.

What defines a great vintage item?

The best vintage pieces never date, are always current, yet stand alone. There’s often a quality that is rarely replicated nowadays; things were made to last and that shows in the way pieces often influence the catwalk trends.

How do you source your items?

We buy all of our stock from the public and absolutely everyone is welcome to come in to sell or trade. After looking at your items, we will make an on the spot offer in cash and double that offer in vouchers, which you can then spend in any of our shops! (The better and more exciting the stock, the more we pay!) Just don’t forget your ID!

What is your favourite piece in the shop at the moment?

At the moment we have a stunning pair of current season Tom Ford strappy buckled sandal boots, which have been seen on Rihanna and Anne Hathaway. We’ve also been very lucky and brought in lots of beautiful Chanel handbags. Our customers can also keep an eye on our favourites by following us on Instagram (retro_woman_) where we post pictures of our most exciting new pieces.

How would you describe your personal style?

We all have an understated, minimal style with focus on quality and comfort, but we all indulge in our own little fashion quirks.

Do you have any other go-to West London boutiques?

Aimé on Ledbury Road is a go-to boutique for contemporary classic French labels such as APC and Isabel Marant, which also stocks a beautiful selection of homeware.  The Aesop shop on Westbourne Grove for their wonderful skincare. (They collaborated with APC to create a laundry liquid that smells absolutely incredible with extracts of petite grain, lemon and cedar!) And if you’re into books, there’s the Idler Academy on Westbourne Park Road, which hosts a great selection of English classics.

Which items should we be investing in this summer?

Chic statement co-ordinates with bold graphic prints – crop tops with pencil skirts and structured jackets with tailored trousers.

Which designers are hot right now?

We always have a soft spot for young and exciting London-based designers like Louise Gray, Mary Katrantzou and Meadham Kirchhoff for their bold, colourful patterns and prints. We also love minimalists like Simone Rocha and Thomas Tait.

32 Pembridge Road, London, W11; www.mgeshops.com/retro-woman-32pr; 020 7598 2233

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