Friday, November 12, 2010

A Visit To Beyond The Valley

You might have noticed that I often bemoan the lack of the vibrant retail scene that the capital deserves. Of course, there are occasions where I grumble far too much. There are a few real gems and rather than be negative I should elevate the exciting stores that do exist. One such store is Beyond The Valley.

Beyond The Valley has long been a shining retail light on the ever changing Newburgh Street. Despite the area being in a state of commercial flux, thankfully this special store has been a familiar and welcome constant consumer refuge ever since it moved to this Soho street in 2005. In just five years, the space has gone from being a springboard for emerging designers to one of London’s leading destinations for fashion innovation and cultural insight. Much of its product range is exclusive, helping the store develop a reputation for showcasing some of the most interesting talent London has to offer and earning them the title of one of the UKs CoolBrands for the last four years on the bounce.

The inviting store front.

Historically, it has had a stronger womenswear selection but this season sees the store welcome a new breed of menswear talent. In addition to its strong own label, the AW10 selection is now bursting with menswear. Contrary to a recent article in iD (to which Jason Dike recently posted a response to over on Selectism), there are thankfully a few stores that are supporting London's menswear designers and Beyond The Valley are among them. The likes of emerging design talent including Katie Eary, Omar Kashoura and Braille now seamlessly hang alongside store regulars of Makin Jan Ma, Horace and The Orphan Arms. Of course, I could wax lyrical about the new stock but I'd only bore you with my enthusiasm. The best way to get a feel of the place is to explore it. The store affords discoveries at every turn and below are a few of the items that really caught my eye...

The new menswear rail is bursting with a mouth watering array of design talent.

As previously mentioned on the page of this blog, East London based design duo Ben Vorono and Samuel Kientsch teamed up to make the debut Braille collection for AW10.

Braille update traditional elements of menswear. Their pieces are crafted from natural materials sourced in Britain and finely made. The above tweed blazer is a store exclusive.

A closer look at the exclusive piece.

London based designer Katie Eary is one of menswear’s most promising new talents. For AW10 she looked to Irvine Welsh's novel Marabou Stork Nightmares for inspiration where the protagonist's nightmares were reconfigured into jungle warrirors that donned plenty of brightly coloured textures, including the chunky knit above...

...and this digital print t shirt. Digital feather print to the front, a classic crew neck with a plain back.

Artist Makin Jan Ma writes scripts and stories, and throughout he designs clothes for the characters in these stories. It's an ongoing creative project and the fruits of which are always interesting.

One of my favourite pieces, I just love the cutaway neck.

P.C Williams was a completely new discovery. The label was set up by designer Patricia Williams early last year. With an aim of bringing a detail focussed aesthetic to London's street wear scene.

Omar Kashoura has long been a Style Salvage favourite and it is great to see him stocked in a London store once again. I was kicking myself for not ordering this reversible wool cardigan earlier this season but now I can remedy my negligence.

Lee Lapthorne's collection of accessories are handcrafted and made with luxurious combinations of digital and hand-printed British fabrics.

While AW10 welcomes this heart racing roster of menswear, the store still contains the myriad of reasons why Beyond The Valley has been on my radar ever since it opened its doors and why I've always dropped in whenever I've found myself in the area. The space has always been a great place to pick out a gift and to find independent printed publications that are ordinarily troublesome to find...     

A great selection of independent magazines.

The gift and lifestyle sections are always an Aladdin's cave of design treats. From ceramic dildos to mugs adorned with bow ties, Beyond The Valley always provides something a little different.  

Now, if you've not dropped by the store since the latest menswear stock arrived then I hope this window shopping post persuades you to do so. In addition to the boutique, they hold regular exhibitions and events which showcase the young and talented people that the store continues to support. Now, here's to supporting independent retail.

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