Since the 1800s Grenson has been epitomising British style through its footwear, creating those shoes that are rich with heritage, history and have become a staple for every gentleman and woman. With an emphasis on quality and longevity, Grenson prides itself on its craftsmanship and classic silhouettes but in true British fashion it also has that streak of eccentricity and contemporary style that runs alongside its tried and tested footwear.
For the last 20 years, English shoe designer and now owner of Grenson, Tim Little, has been instrumental in keeping the brand rooted in its heritage, while also making it relevant for the modern consumer (no mean feat). Who better, then, to let us know some of the best spots that blend the old with new in England’s capital? In his own words, here’s Tim Little’s guide to London.
Olympic Studios, Barnes
Barnes is a lovely sleepy village in South West London with a pretty pond, village green and farmers’ market that make it feel like the middle of the Cotswolds, rather than a suburb of the one of the world’s biggest cities.
Just off the High Street is Olympic Studios, a 100-year-old building that has been several things in its time but most notably it was probably the most important recording studio in British Rock and Roll history. The Rolling Stones recorded six consecutive albums between 1966 and 1972, The Beatles recorded “All you need is love”, Led Zeppelin recorded their first album and Queen recorded “Night at the Opera”, to name just a few.
Then in 2013, after years lying empty, the building was reopened as a cinema by Stephen and Lisa Burge as a very personal and ambitious project. But this is no quirky labour of love, this is a world class cinema with state of the art sound systems and projection, beautiful modern reclining seats and bar, brasserie and private club room to round out the experience.
What I love is the creativity in the choosing of films and events. There are two screens so they never miss the blockbuster films of the moment, but in addition will show indie films, classics at appropriate times such as Casablanca on valentine’s day and It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas, stand-up comedy, interviews with directors and actors after a film has shown, World Cup football matches (with beer and hot dogs), live Opera and so on.
The place is a huge success and the couple behind it have created something that has instantly become the centre of the local community. They have done it through sheer hard work, bravery, but most of all creativity.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, they are now developing a state of the art recording studio again, so that once again the Olympic can be home to the best music this country has to offer.
Olympic Studios can be found at 117-123 Church Road, London SW13 9HL. Visit the website here.
The Clove Club, Shoreditch
Four years ago, I was reading an article about the newly opened Clove Club restaurant in Shoreditch when I noticed that they all wore Grenson shoes. Given that this was the hottest new restaurant in London, I thought I’d better visit.
My first trip was a table for two for me and Mrs L on a Thursday evening and we turned up at the old Shoreditch Town Hall to find a modern, beautifully understated room with a simple open kitchen managed by the wonderful trio of Daniel, Isaac and Johnny.
Now I’m from the Midlands, so I’m normally quite happy with sausage and mash or scampi and chips in a basket, but this meal blew my mind. I have to say I’m lucky enough to eat in some lovely places on our travels with Grenson, but I had never had food like this. There wasn’t a menu as such, you had what Isaac was cooking, which was a bit stressful for someone who didn’t eat peas until he was 25, but I needn’t have worried, every single dish (and there were a lot) was incredible.
For the first time P.C. (Post–Children), we didn’t spend the entire evening talking about them and how they didn’t see the relevance of any form of school work, we just talked about the food and the wine. The wine by the way, was chosen by the restaurant to go with the food and every glass came with a story about the vineyard that made you want to visit.
Basically, the evening changed my entire understanding of food and how good it can be. Needless to say, the following year they received a Michelin star and this year they were voted the best restaurant in Britain by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.
Through Grenson, I know how difficult it is to do something special and to genuinely stand out, which I why I admire these guys so much. I suggest you go.
The Clove Club can be found at Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT. Visit the website here.
Read an interview with Tim Little here, and shop Grenson here.
Words by Angharad Jones and Tim Little