Primitive London is the brain child of Andrew Green whose accessory brand Torso Corso has been stocked in Candy and Lui Nemeth the daughter of Harajuku icon Christopher Nemeth. It is something of a half-way house between boutique, studio and gallery, which instantly put me in mind of the Kitakore building in Koenji, especially as they stock designers who work out of there such as ilil and Banzai. However, while it is clear that they share similar values with the brands of Kitakore, that is really where the comparisons should end. This is a unique space with an atmosphere all its own and there is a definite sense that it will inevitably go on to gain the kind of legendary status of other key London select shops like Sick, Boy London and Year Zero London. I am altogether quite taken with it and you can be sure whenever I am in the UK, I will always make time for Primitive:
You can’t talk about Primitive London without mentioning the location. It is not all that out of the way really, but by virtue of being completely isolated from any other retail space it really does feel secluded, tucked away as it is under a railway arch in Haggerston. Going there feels a bit like a pilgrimage and lends it far more exclusivity than if it was on full view on Brick Lane – you know you are in the right place when you see their symbol as the only identifyer on a whole series of otherwise identical archways:
You would never guess that behind this door lurks work by some of the finest designers in Tokyo and London. A very urban cult indeed…
Inside the clothes are the stars, exhibited as in a gallery against a stark practical studio background. The hand is by Banzai and is only the start of a series of wearable human body themed pieces. Oh and guess what that pendent on the lower left is made of…
They also do a good line in vintage including the likes of Ann Demeulemeester and Vivienne Westwood. It is altogether pleasantly surreal to see Ann D next to Banzai!
Lui at work.
Frankly offensively cool t-shirts hanging from the high ceiling.
It wouldn’t be a cool boutique without a token toy on a necklace.
Work from the previous exhibition by Joseph Nigoghossian where he took 100 frames from a short film to create a series of unique t-shirts. Before that it was the stunning Three Exhibition featuring the unbelievably talented Discount.
They are also one of the few places in the UK to keep Fruits, Tune and Street magazine. Check out the cover of Street by the exceptionally talented Mamy.
Ambush and Ambush x Cassette Playa jewelry if you wanted to be the first in the UK to flaunt it.
Primitive do have their own accessory line as well including some amazing taxidermy delights.
The stark lighting in the shop makes everything conspicuously visible rather than hidden in the shadows like so many other boutiques.
Close-up of a Balmung cape.
It really is a great space and I can’t wait to see who exhibits in it next.
More Ann D, next to brushes used to display jewelry – genius!
Our very stylish hosts.
Primitive ultimately aims to stock more of their own items and I think we can all look forward to that further down the line. For me what is so admirable is the desire to cultivate a direct relationship with their customers – to make the items and sell them personally. It is that which fosters the kind of creativity that is best exemplified in the case of Tokyo by Dog Harajuku, Kitakore and Tarzan Kick – in effect you let the customers influence you rather than producing seasonal collections in isolation and sold through multiple layers of buyers and stockists. Whether Primitive can successfully make that shift remains to be seen, but they clearly are going the right way right now.
Either way, this is one place you have to add to your regular haunts in London. It is the only place in the UK where you can see, touch and buy a good amount of Japanese brands, and obviously the UK ones they stock are equally worthy of your time as well.
You can check out there site here and you can rely on us here at Tokyo Telephone to keep you up to date on any developments.