A couple of weeks ago a reader of my blog, Permament Style, asked me what shops he should make sure he visited in London. He was coming over from the United States for a week and wanted to visit any store that could be considered unique to London. Bespoke suits and high-end shoes were out of his price range, so it was a question of dissecting the high street.
The big department stores – particularly Selfridge’s and Liberty – are always worth a visit, but in the end they just stock brands from the high street (and many of them are American). So it was a question of small, local companies. Albam, which I have written about before, sprang to mind, as did Reiss – though it now has branches in the US. And the various arcades from Royal, through Burlington, across to Piccadilly and down Jermyn Street, present a nice route for the flaneur.
But as soon as I had written the email, I realised I had forgotten about Trunk. Trunk Clothiers was set up in September by Mats Klingberg (among other perhaps more important things, the partner of Monocle editor Tyler Brule). It stocks brands that are largely not found in the UK, ranging from tailoring to hiking gear. There’s a good number of Japanese and Italian brands, a few Swedish and one or two American. Overall it’s an extremely well edited collection that I think would present a visitor to London with a unique selection – unless he were about to fly to Italy, Sweden and Japan as part of a world tour.
Another reason to recommend Trunk to the tourist is that it presents an excuse to wander into Marylebone, an area that always feels surprisingly suburban given it is five minutes walk from Oxford Street. There’s a bunch of good vintage shops in the immediate vicinity of Trunk, plus some great cafes and the Monocle shop itself.
But the sell has to be the brands. These include Piombo, a small Italian retailer known for great unlined jackets and coats, and the main tailoring brand stocked at trunk. Next comes Kitsune, formal dress shirts with fine stitching and sharp, unfused collars, made by a Japanese gentleman, in France. Casual brands include Woolrich, Beams and Barena.
The latter was a big discovery for me. Barena is a Venetian company that does soft tailoring and knitwear that is disarmingly sharp. A double-breasted grey jacket, for example, cut slim in a knitted wool but with unfinished edges intended to echo the fisherman of the Veneto. Trunk also features the whole range of Slowear products. For those that don’t know Slowear, it is a group of craft-minded companies that specialises in one area each: Incotex for trousers, Zanone for knitwear, Montedoro for coats/jackets and Glanshirt for, well, shirts. Incotex, in particular, has a great reputation.
Other brands at Trunk include Drake’s, Sunspel, BD Baggies, J Crew, Common Projects, Comme des Garcons fragrances, ki:ts and Orlebar Brown. All this in the space of one concession at Selfridge’s.
Since it opened, Trunk has sold out of several lines. There’s only a handful of Incotex trousers left, mostly in sizes 36-inch and above. New brands have also been added, including some lovely sweaters and canvas bags designed by Mats under the Trunk label.
If you’re in London, don’t miss it.