“Thank you so much for waiting so long”, said the store manager.
“This is a game changer”, a fellow shopper whispered to me.
“Sure you can take photos”, the sales assistant said, “I don’t see why that would be a problem.”
I arrived an hour and a half early. I had a coffee in the cafe opposite. I watched as the staff dusted and swept and polished the new Nepenthes store. Then it was midday. The doors opened. Nepenthes arrived in London. And, as one of the first handful of customers, I can tell you it’s very lovely indeed.
It’s a small store. Thin, running front to back; rails on each side; a small selection of shoes. As expected, they carry Engineered Garments, Needles for men and women, South2 West8 and a handful of Sasquatchfabrix. They have no plans to stock RANDT, although AiE should arrive next season. Sadly there are no accessories; none of those glass cabinets full of jewellery, trinkets and elusive Needles sunglasses that feature in the NYC outpost. There’s no space. There isn’t really even a proper changing room.
Because the store has opened mid-season, there’ll be a bigger range come Fall 19 I was told. I also learned that they have plans to open another floor downstairs at some point. But let’s concentrate on what there is.
It’s an intimate expression of the Nepenthes brand. Once you’re buzzed in, there’s a real London feel about the place. Quite refined, and very possibly representative of an idealised London, a perfect, historical sense of Britishness, one only visible through a Japanese lens. The staff were excited and happy to be there. And the prices. To my eyes, they seemed (hold your breath) reasonable. Because the merchandise is coming direct from Nepenthes, London punters can expect more streamlined pricing. Put it this way. I (finally) bought a pair of Nepenthes x Trickers multi-tone leather shoes. If I got them in Japan today, they would cost me £150 more than I paid. Full disclosure, I also bought one of those EG nylon, micro-ripstop vests. I wanted to spend more.
My fellow ‘early-doors’ punters continued shuffling about quietly. They mumbled awkwardly to each other as they flicked through the rails. It seemed they were as overwhelmed as I to be finally standing in a Nepenthes in London.