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Archive for the ‘Independent Retailing’ Category

At Vintage we really hope that Habitat as a brand gets through its current sad woes. They deserve the support of the creative community for flying the flag of design since 1964. The new owners only seem to be keeping 3 London shops open and then taking the brand online.

I for one hope that Habitat rises like a phoenix from the ashes. Here’s a taster of classic Habitat…

Habitat Scoop chair & plastic coffee tables

1974 Stun seating Habitat

1974 Habitat pendant lamps

1973 Habitat flop chair sofaHabitat Stop in Sofa and Sturs chair 1974

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The Dutch and the Danish have “got it” for a long time. Urban areas that are pedestrian and cyclist friendly are happier, healthier, safer, cleaner places to live. But Britain with its powerful pro car lobby and with its sad addiction to bloomin Top Gear has been lagging behind. But we may be reaching the tipping point. Car use in Britain is on the decline and I have a hunch that it’s not just that cash is tight and folk are being careful. (more…)

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Looking back to the turn of the 80s when Gerardine and I started out… We’d never considered being designers, it wasn’t on the radar of two teenagers from Lancashire. I was playing in a band and we used to hang out in Camden. When Gerardine and I ran out of money to pay the rent on our house in Wembley, one saturday morning we emptied our wardrobes out of some of the second hand clothes that we both wore and some of the clothes that Gerardine had made for herself, put them into a couple of 50p checked chinese laundry bags and got the tube to Camden. For £6 rent we took over £100 and returned on the Sunday and for the next decade of Saturdays and Sundays. Camden taught us about peoples taste, retail and being entrepreneurs.

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I am often asked, 27 years on, could Gerardine and I start our careers today in a similar way to how we started out. In 1981 whist still in our teens, Gerardine and I emptied our wardrobes onto Camden Market on a Saturday morning, the rent was £6 and we took just over a £100. We returned the next morning, coughed up our £6, took a similar amount and realised that people liked our take on fashion. Gerardine, despite having no formal training, then was able to experiment with her dress making skills and open a unit in that hotbed of creativity Kensington Market. For £18 a week Gerardine was able to get direct feedback from the consumer, sit behind her sewing machine and hone her skills and Red or Dead was born. Soon after we opened stalls within Affleck’s Palace, and The Royal  Exchange in Manchester and open little shops in Soho. In the mid 80’s we opened a store on Neal St in Covent Garden with a weekly rent of £60.

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Cycling has become my way of getting some sport into part pf my working day. But I am still in the minority. Why are we being so slow in at making our towns and cities more cycleable and walkable? We keep being told about a British obesity crisis, many of our cities roads are clogged up 7 days a week, car exhausts are blamed as a major contributor to breathing related afflictions, the race for oil is littered with turmoil, and then there is that behemoth of a story, the world’s very existence as a climatically stable place is being threatened by our carbon emissions.

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The past 20 years has seen an exponential growth in cultural tourism and to many, placemaking and the branding of place has become synonymous with its cultural offerings. From historical architectural tourism to Prague and Vienna, to hedonistic cultural tourism to Ibiza, Rimini and Amsterdam, low cost carriers have and are benefiting. The Hemingway family, like many of our generation, no longer choose our holiday breaks based on beaches and sun. Whereas visiting a town or city based on the culture of a place was once the preserve of a narrow set of what were thought of by many as “cultural bores”, the concept of “culture” has widened to the extent that even Benidorm and Playa de las Americas are attempting to play the “Cultural Place” card. I love spending part of my week on my 3 green acres in splendid cultural isolation, but like many, I need my ‘fix’ of culture. In the main, the towns and cities I have affinity with are the ones that have given me my ‘fix’.

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