What is The Basics Store?
It's a concept pop-up store, which opens once or twice a year in different locations around London. This is our fifth edition in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. Our first three were in Shoreditch, our fourth in Notting Hill, but this is definitely our best location. We have a selection of independent brands from UK and abroad.
Where did you get the idea from?
It launched in 2015 as means of being able to have a physical retail space for my own silkwear brand, Marina London and invited other brands on board, so we could share the high rent together. It was very much set up as a solution to a problem.
What makes it different to other concept stores?
The store fit is our number one point of difference – I’m fully committed to making sure that the name of the store is reflected in the store's aesthetic. A blank canvas is all you need to make beautiful product stand out well, and basic materials like plywood, copper, perspex and rope are all we use. The product should be number one here, not how much money is spent on the shop fit.
Brand curation is also key to the store having a real purpose – we pick only brands that have something unique and special about them. A lot of them have great followings online, but no real physical point of sale, so this is a great opportunity for fans to come and shop them in real life.
Which brands are available?
It would be hard to list them all, as we stock over 30! Some especially worth mentioning are By FAR shoes, which launched with us two years ago; jewellery designers Jessie Harris, K'ssara and G.Binsky; fashion-wise there’s knitwear by Blake LDN and Irish linen by 31 Chapel Lane; we have original sketches by Alexa Coe; ceramics by KANA London, Hannah Bould and Lily Pearmain; homewares queen Francesca Genitlli, who sources epic 70s vintage Berber rugs, baskets, glassware and cushions from Morocco; leather goods by Anna Walker and Danielle Foster; flower bunches by Petalon… I could go on and on, but the best way to discover them is to just visit the store!
How did you decide which brands to include?
I tend to hunt heavily on Instagram, but some brands also get in touch through our website. It’s hard as there are a lot of good brands out there, but at the same time sometimes I find a brand and think, God you've really done something that we're missing in store and that's always the best kind of match.
What are your hero pieces on sale right now?
Alexa Coe’s Instagram-famous sketches; beautiful candles by Overose, Eym and Mama Moon; swimsuits by Cossie & Co; the most gorgeous Moses baskets by new brand The Wanderer. One of the most exciting additions is also Piglet in Bed who make 100% linen bedding, along with stylish white and navy sleepwear.
How long does creating a new pop-up take?
It takes much longer than you'd think! There are a lot of behind the scenes bits like POS systems, sales reports and staffing, amongst many others. At the scale we are now, in a 1700sqft space with 30+ brands, it’s quite a lot of work.
How important is the location?
Unless you have a very big client base and can attract swathes of customers off your own back, location is hands down the most important thing. Also, the right location for you is the other. It's no good thinking you need to be in East London, when in reality your client lives in, let's say, Notting Hill.
This is the 5th edition of The Basics Store, how has it evolved?
It has become more of an identity as time has gone by. I’ve always wanted to remain true to the very first one we did on Redchurch Stree – it had so much love and soul put into it. I hope it has continued in the spirit, but also introduced customers to some exciting new brands that they never knew about. It has grown in size of course, too. Our first store was 250sqft, this one is seven times bigger.
How has Instagram changed the way people shop?
Instagram is the biggest disruptor to traditional retail, and although it may carry negativity in so many other ways, it means that brands like the ones I carry have a platform to sell from. People now have the opportunity to feel closer to brands they love and be very involved in their journey. I think pop-up culture is here to stay – it's leading to a more exciting way of shopping and with interacting with brands and the people behind them.
Most popular piece in the new store so far?
This time it's been the Marina London DREE dress, By FAR shoes and Hannah Bould ceramics.
Tell us more about your brand?
Marina London is a 100% silk basics brand which I set up in 2011. I try to design pieces that I think look flattering and show silk in a new light. Silk was a bit of a no-go fabric when I started, so I wanted to make it a little bit more accessible and cooler. It's such an amazing material that I fell in love with, when I used sand-washed crepe de chine for my graduation collection.
The Basics Store pop-up is open now until 9th August at 15 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9DA