I think I re-define how to shop until ones drops. I feel like I went EVERYWHERE, but still I wanted to see more and more, it wasn’t until my feet started to go on strike that I returned home!
Where am I taking you on this lovely blogging adventure you ask? Well we start off by waking up at 7am, leaving by 8, and heading to Portobello Market. It takes about 40 minutes to get there from London Bridge Tube stop which, (is where I am,) so I ended up getting there at about 8:40am. This is perfect for me because I was abel to grab a sandwich the size of my face to eat on my ten minute walk from the tube to the market. (The sandwich tasted GREAT by they way, it was a spinach, feta cheese, soft bread concoction that I could only eat half in one sitting, the other half became lunch.) As a travel tip to anyone who might be traveling for the first time, it pays to get to a place early. The rule of thumb: the more touristy, the more you should be motivated to get up and the crack of dawn to go see it because only a handful of people will want to do this. Then, by the time the real crowds come you will be pretty much done and onto the next event.
This is what I did and it made ALL the difference when it came to Portobello Road.
This is what I did and it made ALL the difference when it came to Portobello Road.
Portobello Road is a combination of things: there are permanent stores open all week on both sides of the street, then on Saturdays, the entire street is shut down and there are booths and pop-up shops as far as the eye can see. On the right hand side of the street I found mostly antique shops. In the street there were a lot of booths reminding me of Canal Street in NYC(t-shirts, knock off bags, ext), there are plenty of food vendors, and then there are odds and ends booths that could be selling antiques, or army navy things. There was even one booth that ONLY sold hand-made doll house accessories. In short, this street is perfect for everything you never knew you needed.
I started with the antique stores first because a lot of them are indoors, and in tight spaces. I couldn’t IMAGINE getting around them with lots of people, especially because I was carrying a large purse. The antique booths themselves were nothing TOO special for me, I have grown up going to auctions and looking through old things, and I could never spend a ridiculous amount of money on something just because “its old” or “it was DEFINITELY a designer brand even though its got no markings or documentation.” No for me, unless I know what I am doing, what I am buying or what I am looking for, I just browse and smile kindly at occasional vendors.
Mixed in with the antique shops I found an urban oddity store with lots of graffiti merchandize. I was shocked at how much people take Banksy’s work and knock it off into merchandise for their own benefits. I guess that is the price at being a true faceless artist, but It made me a bit sad to see thousands of pounds in sales happening with certainty that he isn’t making a penny himself. Speaking of graffiti artists, Boston, we represent HARDCORE in the UK with Shepard Fairey! For those of you who are not aware of Shepard Fairey, he made the famous Obama poster in red white and blue, he is Boston based, and the main thing he is known for is a black and white face with the word “OBEY” underneath it. When I was at Portobello Street market, all the Canal Street-like booths were selling tank tops with “OBEY!” written on them in his style. These basic tanks where selling from 7-10 pounds each, now I ask you Boston, why are we not getting in on this again? I ended up getting one because just HAD to bring it back home, and show my pride for our world wide competitor in the graffiti arts!
Half way down the market I ran into a PERFECTLY dressed man representing the London Punk fashion scene, His name was Ren, and he allowed me to take a photo of him for my blog. When talking with him the first thing I noticed was: no...English, accent? “Where are you from?” I asked, knowing the general area already, “I am actually from NYC, just visiting” he told me. Its too funny that the one man I see doing the old school London punk look is a New Yorker!
Anyhow, back to shopping. My tactics to conquering this street were to start at one end, do the smallest, least accessible stores first, and then do the street stores on the way back. This took me about 4 hours without stopping! There are only a few stores worth telling about on this street, and I will start with a Vintage store called “One Of a Kind.” The reason this store stands out from the dozens I went into is this: I happened to be standing next to some Asian girls who were well dressed when I overheard a man who works there ask if they were looking for anything in particular. I don’t think they could speak too much English, but no matter, all you need is two words: “Cannel Bags?” The man asked if they would like to see the stores private vintage archive in the back, the girls nodded. Now, I don’t mean to be nosy, BUT I was not about to let a private Channel vintage archive get away from me SO, I kind of snuck in behind them and tried to be a part of the group. When the man turned around to let the girls into the room, he was a bit surprised there were now three of us, at which point I explained, “sorry I heard Channel vintage bags and couldn’t help but follow is that ok?” He replied that it was fine, so into this room of wonder I went. And a wonder it WAS, they had mint condition vintage Channel bags, jewelry, oh the pieces in that room were AMAZING. Upon talking to the store keeper I was informed that this is a room normally reserved for private shoppers who make appointments prior to coming to the store. In other words, if you want a designer bag, clothing or jewelry they no longer make, you see these people.
After that lovely encounter, I walked around for another half hour, then started my long journey back to the tube. Along the way I ran into an Army Navy booth where I found a belt made of ALL real bullets (with no gun powder left in them.) As soon as I saw it, I KNEW that I would be scared for life with regret if I did not purchase it immediately. The British man who I bought it from was a hoot though, he heard my accent and new I was America, he then went on a rant about how he LOVES the American swim team, “god BLESS that Michael Phelps!” he said among other admiring comments about our athletes.
As I continued my walk, now with a bullet belt in my bag of treasures I had purchased, I realized I had become really thirsty and I needed a drink. I was lucky to be on Portobello because any bazar food or drink you disire is at your disposal. I ended up finding a booth with two men working and all they were doing was taking giant green coconuts, cutting off the tops, sticking a straw in the newly exposed hole and an novelty paper umbrella in the side and there you go. Of corse, I immediately purchased one. It was a tropical delight!
On I walked until I was almost back to the tube when I saw a shop of incredible, colorful textiles. It was in line with the sort of colorful style of Zandra so in I went to discover the brand. The first thing I see when I walk into this colorful store is that the man standing behind the desk, who I later got to know as Michael, was dressed in perfect harmony with his surroundings. I asked immediately if I could include him in my blog, he said yes. Sometimes in life, you walk into a scene so ready to be shared with the world that you must do it immediately. In this case the color composition of the store, in conjunction with himself and his style was simply a harmonious masterpiece of color! After talking to him for a bit, I told him I was here studying in London with Zandra Rhodes, and thats why the store caught my eye in the first place. As it turns out, he has met her and used to work next door to her old studio/shop before she moved to her current location back in, now don’t quote me but I believe he said the 60’s, (I could be off on that.) Either way Mike was a wonderful person to have a chat with. The designer he works for is: Beatrice Von Tresckow in case anyone is interested in checking her out, she has some really great colorful stuff.
Here are some additional photos to illustrate my day!
To the right is a picture of me and my yummy coconut drink
To the left is an outdoor bakery, you may not be abel to tell from the photos, but those donuts were WAY bigger then one of my hands. VERY tempting!
To the right- I went into store packed with jewlery, this is one of the shelves, the cherries remind me of Louis Vuitton did while cherries a while ago.