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Obituary: Warren Gold, founder of Lord John

Warren Gold, one of the leading figures of the menswear revolution of the 1960s, has died of a heart attack in Spain. He was 77.

With his brother David, Gold founded the influential national chain Lord John in 1963 after having worked on market stalls in Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields, east London. The brothers worked together for more than 50 years until David’s death a few years ago.

Warren was still active in the menswear business through Gold’s Factory Outlet in Golders Green, north London, a mainstream menswear store which he opened more than 20 years ago. Described as the Big Red Building, it mirrored a similar store in Petticoat Lane, which had been run by David. Warren was famous for his enthusiasm for being out on the shop floor.

In their early years on Carnaby Street, the brothers specialised in the mod look and using local factories were able to bring in new styles weekly – an early version of fast fashion. Competing with John Stephen, “the king of Carnaby Street”, as well as the mods’ continental-cut men’s suits, the brothers championed “far-out” men’s fashions such as lurid shirts, brightly coloured hipsters, ski sweaters and suede, corduroy and denim jackets.

Financial success came quickly and the brothers adopted a flamboyant personal style. In 1967 they commissioned decorators Binder, Edwards & Vaughan to paint the exterior of Lord John’s branch on the corner of Carnaby Street and Ganton Street with a psychedelic mural, making it an iconic building of the era. Backed by regular press advertising campaigns Lord John grew to eight boutiques by 1970 and expanded to about 30 during the early part of the decade.

The business was eventually acquired by the manufacturing and retailing group Raybeck. In the mid-1980s Raybeck sold the chain to Next, which converted the stores to its own fascia.

After the sale to Next, the Gold brothers opened the Big Red Building on Petticoat Lane, becoming early modern pioneers of the discount factory shop. Warren’s son Jamie now runs the Golders Green business.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Martin Ailion

    Lord John was one of those iconic destination stores that brought me and many of my contemporaries down to London from Manchester just to shop there.
    Pioneers like the Gold brothers are sadly missing from the trade today.

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