Its chic New York vibe has won it fans aplenty, but talk of its celebrity following won’t wash with KJ’s Laundry.
It is an award-winning treasure chest of emerging womenswear labels that draws plaudits from the press and loyalty from shoppers for its stock of all things up and coming and hard to find. But KJ’s Laundry is not a boutique in the traditional sense.
When it opened three years ago, co-founders Jane Ellis and Kate Allden were going for something else entirely. “We designed the store ourselves,” says Ellis, “and there were so many stores with that girly boutique feel to them - with chandeliers and the like - so we just wanted something a bit more relaxed with that New York, SoHo, downtown feel.”
The 700sq ft store has evolved since its opening and now customers can also buy its temporary fixtures, like the tables and shoe racks. The whole store, from product to fixtures, is shuffled every six to eight weeks to keep things looking fresh.
As for the permanent fixtures, the dark wood fascia and interior is relatively unfussy, so the real star in the store is the product, which is just how the owners want it.
Among the 30 or so brands stocked in the shop, culled from buying trips to Paris, Milan and New York, Ellis cites Sunshine & Shadow, Myne and S-Sung as sources of excitement. They are all New York labels, with a focus on dresses. They may be relatively unknown, but that is the point. Ellis says: “We are just up the road from Selfridges so we look for brands that shoppers won’t stumble into elsewhere. We want younger designers - maybe even fresh out of college. The brands have to be a bit special but relaxed, and something you can wear every day.”
These are all ingredients you can bet will inform the store’s own label - mooted for a spring 10 launch. It may or may not be rolled out to wholesale, but will definitely excite the style press, which regularly visit KJ’s Laundry. Ellis says it is just part of the business’s ambitions for the next year or so. “We are opening another shop in central London. That’s all I’m saying at the moment though.” Plans are also afoot for a transactional website, which may prove popular with some of the store’s celebrity clientele.
For this store is famed for wooing A-listers such as actress Scarlett Johansson. Not that you would hear about it from the owners. “The press has picked up on some of the celebrities but we like to keep it fairly low key. Some shops do piggyback on their customers’ fame, but it seems fairer to let them have their privacy.”
It’s a sensibility that has served KJ’s Laundry well, and will continue to do so as its enviable reputation grows.