Boudoir Boutique and Weavers Door offer something different to Liverpool shoppers.
Nestled behind Lord Street and the bright lights of the Liverpool One shopping centre, Cavern Walks is home to three of the city’s best-known indies. One is footballers’ wives favourite Cricket, the other two are run by husband and wife team Louise Kavanagh and Tim Keating.
Veterans of the Liverpool fashion scene, the pair founded three-store indie Drome in 1995, selling it to footwear chain Footasylum in 2008. Now Kavanagh looks after womenswear store Boudoir Boutique and Keating steers the menswear shop Weavers Door with his business partner Lee Fleming.
Located on the upper floor of Cavern Walks, Boudoir Boutique is a trove of vintage-inspired fashion and homewares. Established eight years ago on Harrington Street (in the current 600 sq ft Weavers Door unit), Kavanagh moved the business into its 1,500 sq ft shop in 2010 to meet the growing demand for its womenswear.
Meanwhile, Keating had spotted a gap in the market for contemporary menswear, so in September 2010 teamed up with Fleming to open Weavers Door in the space vacated by Boudoir Boutique.
Despite the sizable floor space, the mood of Boudoir Boutique is one of comfort and intimacy.
Shoppers are drawn into the rich surroundings and decadent decor of the shop, which is filled with an eclectic product mix ranging from Saturday night dresses and red carpet gowns to crystal chandeliers and vintage teacups.
Boudoir Boutique carries about 20 labels each season, all selected carefully by Louise Kavanagh and her team to match the ambience.
Firm favourites, including Manoush, Finders Keepers, Forever Unique and Kevan Jon, are mixed with new additions for spring 14, such as Darling, and vintage pieces from the likes of Dior and Comme des Garçons.
Kavanagh attends Pure London but prefers to do most of her buying in showrooms or by dealing with brands directly. Boudoir Boutique also has a dedicated Barbour corner, selling jackets and outerwear - Kavanagh is an admirer of its Britis craftsmanship.
The average price for an eveningwear item is £300, but the store also caters for younger customers with entry-price brands Jones + Jones and Mink Pink, which have an average retail price of £65. Kavanagh is keen to keep her price architecture below £500 to ensure the style she offers is affordable.
Influenced by the Biba stores of the 1960s and 1970s, Boudoir Boutique wants to give its shoppers more than just things to buy; Kavanagh is determined to offer an experience. So she has created VIP customer days, including one event in December when Zandra Rhodes signed handbags in store.
An important part of this lifestyle experience is the variety of accessories and homewares that sit alongside clothing. Kavanagh, who also works as an interior designer, sources unique chandeliers, lamps, chairs, trinkets and jewellery.
“It’s the one place where you’re likely to leave with a dress and a lamp”, she laughs. “It builds a whole experience. Everyone deserves a bit of glamour in their lives.”
This notion of creating a luxurious space is reflected in the interior, which houses floor-to-ceiling gold-gilded mirrors, a large chaise longue and overstuffed cushions, not to mention the clothes.
“Every piece has to be special, something you could pass down to your children. As an independent, you can’t compete with the disposable fast fashion at Primark and Topshop. You have to have exclusive items to keep customers interested and the passion you have for your stock really makes a difference,” says Kavanagh.
The next venture for the business is a digital one, with its first transactional website set to launch in April. It won’t be long before Boudoir Boutique’s strapline, ‘Divine Decadence Darling’, is being felt far beyond the lasses of Liverpool.
What this menswear store lacks in size it makes up for in its varied brand mix. With more than 40 labels, from British classics like Barbour and Grenson to contemporary Scandinavian brands including Fjällräven and Han Kjøbenhavn, Weavers Door packs a punch.
When Tim Keating and Lee Fleming opened the store in 2010 in the aftermath of the recession, they wanted to create “something different”, a destination for customers ranging in age from 17 to 70.
“Our clientele spans three generations,” says Fleming. “We like the idea of heritage brands that you can pass down. The store is a mix of product from something your grandfather would have worn, like a Gloverall coat, through to neon jackets that are popular with students and the creative crowd.”
Fleming, who shares buying duties with Keating, prefers to write orders in showrooms as it helps to build “old-fashioned relationships” with brands. “The most important thing is buying for Liverpool. You have to get the local customer excited and it helps to try something different each season to keep them interested.”
The bright, airy store features reclaimed wood shelving, varnished parquet flooring and a wall of black-and-white photos of iconic album covers.
Weavers Door, which also stocks Universal Works, Folk and Oliver Spencer, is looking to follow Boudoir Boutique’s lead and expand into a larger space, but is determined to wait for the right space to become available in Liverpool.