For a country – not to mention a city – on the verge of a nervous breakdown, luxury retailers in London seem to be holding together pretty well. Political leaders may be polarised and combative, Main Street stores are experiencing uncertainty, but at the high end, the UK is still seen as an attraction.
This month of October has not just been about the dramatic demands and mighty refusals of European politics. The same period has seen the moneyed, global crowd filling the city for the Frieze Art Fair and a cluster of ancillary events.
While Brexit is supposedly about to drive international collectors and big-money buyers to France, Italy, or other retail havens, central London streets are filled with new openings or the refurbishment of big brand stores.
“We had to do it – it was ten years old!” proclaimed Michael Burke, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, referring to the London Vuitton store, whose voluminous and art-filled interior on New Bond Street has undergone a bold renovation.
Around that golden Central London area, new stores are popping up, and not just those with big names and a long history. Gabriela Hearst has opened a London store across the road from Claridge’s hotel; while Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have found a home for The Row on Carlos Place, just by the Connaught hotel. Significantly, both those designer labels are based in America, proving perhaps that London is appreciated as a shopping haven whether in or out of Europe.