A vision for new fashion and a passion for the East
With just three members of staff and £2000 borrowed from his future father-in-law, Arthur Lasenby Liberty’s vision of opening an Eastern Bazaar was realised in 1875, in a little shop housed in half of 218a Regent Street.
His carefully curated selection of beautiful fabrics, ornaments and objets d’art fascinated a city obsessed with the mysterious East and Mr Liberty’s passion and drive for a new look for homeware and fashion proved incredibly popular. Within eighteen months the loan was repaid and the second half of 218a Regent Street bought. Carpets and furniture were added to the shop and Liberty, it seemed, had made a lifelong name for itself in the retail world.
Challenging the fashion houses of Paris, Liberty introduced collections of scarves, accessories and fabrics which today are still sought after and highly prized. Designer fashion and homeware from across the globe followed and the store became the most fashionable place in London to shop.
In 1924 the iconic mock-Tudor store was built using the timbers from two ships, the HMS Impregnable and the HMS Hindustan with the frontage of the building standing at the same length as the Hindustan. The building was designed with natural light in mind, with smaller rooms off its famous atrium, giving a homely and welcoming feel. Sadly Arthur never saw his dream complete, dying seven years before the store was finished.
Liberty has always been famous for its beautiful fabric. As far back as the early store, Liberty’s fabric was always a staple instore. Countless hours are still spent by designers creating intricate designs that can be recognised only as Liberty. The store holds archives full of every single Liberty fabric, and their designs can be seen throughout their own products as well as cascading through their haberdashery, to buy by the metre.
Liberty has forged its own unique path into the hearts of its loyal customers, with celebrity fans and collaborations with top designer labels. Renowned textile designer William Morris teamed up with the shop in the nineteenth century and Vivienne Westwood worked alongside them in the twentieth. More recently Manolo Blahnik has collaborated with Liberty’s to design an exclusive bag and shoe for Liberty’s 140th anniversary.
Creating new fashion
Liberty London now hosts a huge range of brands whilst still holding firm to Arthur Liberty’s desire to not follow existing fashions, but create new ones. Alongside designer labels sits the original carpet shop, haberdashery and original lines.
Now world renowned for its elegant and luxurious fabric, Liberty continues to design patterns and prints which it spreads across accessories, jewellery, scarves and its own fabric.
Liberty London is a true iconic British institution and a fabulous place to simply lose yourself for a while.