Roger Stephenson, deputy chairman, Lock & Co
As single-sentence descriptors go, Lock & Co’s is hard to beat: “We are the oldest hat shop in the world, and we are now the oldest retail shop in London,” explains the brand’s deputy chairman Roger Stephenson. It’s the kind of simple summary that puts into sharp focus just how steeped in history St James’s is – especially when you consider that Lock & Co’s centuries of heritage is shared not just by Berry Bros. & Rudd, but many other businesses on the street. Having two Royal Warrants, as well as the notable claim as the inventors of the bowler hat, further cements their place among St James’s royalty.
On the area’s unique atmosphere...
“We were originally on the other side of the street and we moved over to our current premises in 1759, so we’ve been next door to Berry Bros. & Rudd for many, many years. I think the feeling of quality is what comes through in all strands, whether it’s the shops, whether it’s the architecture – it’s just got that feeling that if you want to get that quintessential, classic English style, and to find places where not only do you buy quality products, but it’s quality of service, and the feeling of a bygone age.
We’re in such a fast-paced society these days, with fast fashion and the rest of it – you come to St James’s because we buck that trend. Especially when you come into Lock & Co, you’re treated in the old way, with proper service and staff that really know their product, who are there not just to be salespeople but to advise and to help with a considered purchase, and I think that’s the difference. It isn’t that hard sell; it’s all about quality of service, which we’re really proud of.”