LONDON, United Kingdom -- A new 600 square-foot boutique stocking some of London's newest fashion talents, from Peiran Gong to Nasir Mazhar, has just landed in Soho’s Brewer Street, bringing a jolt of creative energy to a high-traffic commercial centre that, after years of homogenisation, is giving way to a more interesting melange of businesses.
Run by owner Stavros Karelis and renowned stylist Anna Trevelyan, the venture’s fashion director, Machine-A is at once assertively new and a throwback to Soho’s heyday, when it was much more common to find small boutiques showcasing a young and irreverent breed of undiscovered talent, without a proven commercial record.
The store is anchored by a small selection of established, directional brands like Raf Simons, Chalayan and Mugler, which are joined by a number of London’s rising stars Shaun Samson and Agi & Sam. But Machine-A's unique appeal lies in names that even savvy fashion consumers have rarely heard of and whose output can't be found anywhere else. Indeed, the work of recent graduates, including jackets with chalked-on slogans by Central Saint Martins' Tigran Avetisyan and hand-printed white neoprene pieces by Gong, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, are given prominent display.
It’s an interesting proposition. When BoF visited Machine-A, we bumped into veteran fashion publicist and East London fixture Mandi Lennard, a longtime supporter of London's emerging creative talent, known for helping to put designers like Gareth Pugh and Roksanda Illincic on the map.
Designers like these have risen to global prominence in recent years, and attracted growing interest from a global clientele who visit influential concept stores like Dover Street Market, in the city's Mayfair district. But, until now, London has lacked a centrally located showcase expressly dedicated to the work of their potential successors.
Machine-A, a stone's throw away from Piccadilly Circus, is sure to bridge the gap between London's youngest fashion talents and a set of consumers, both global and local, who increasingly thirst for the work of emerging designers but rarely venture deep into East London, where most of the city's most avant-garde stores are located.
It might even draw some of the East London crowd into Soho. “I came in here and went nuts,” said Lennard, as she placed an order for a bespoke Tigran Avetisyan coat with a customised slogan. "There hasn’t been anything like this since Jeannette’s," she added, referring to the East End store curated by legendary nightlife character, and former doyenne of Boombox, James Main, also known as Jeannette.
As Lennard put it: “We want independent. We don’t want designer, designer, designer."