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Cult ’60s boutique Granny Takes a Trip is back as a sustainable fashion label

The famous Chelsea brand is back, with a reworked fashion collection available exclusively online

If you’ve ever wished you could transport yourself back to the Swinging Sixties, you’re in luck – with the relaunch of the era’s cult fashion boutique, Granny Takes a Trip, it’s almost like you can. The legendary store has just made a welcome return, with a revamped online offering that has sustainability at its core. Coinciding with the opening of the landmark Biba exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum last month, it would seem the Sixties’ unique brand of fashion hedonism is firmly back in vogue.

Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin

Granny Takes a Trip first opened its doors on the King’s Road in 1966, after being founded by graphic designer Nigel Waymouth, vintage clothing collector Sheila Cohen and mod tailor John Pearse. Originally created as a way to sell Cohen’s ever-growing collection of vintage clothing, which she scoured from stalls at Portobello Market, it quickly went on to encapsulate the era’s newfound sense of fashion freedom, attracting famous clientele that included the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg and Brigitte Bardot.

They came for the avant-garde fashion and the boutique’s one-of-a-kind own label pieces, which were made using upholstery fabrics – the likes of which had never been seen before – but also for the experience itself. The boutique’s exterior was always a sight to behold, covered in fin de siècle Art Nouveau styling one month, a pop art mural the next. Inside, Victoriana wallpaper and purple paint lined the walls, while incense scented the room and music blared from the jukebox. The rails in the store were unisex – a radical notion at the time – and were filled with velvet suits, ruffled blouses and micro mini skirts.

Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin

After the likes of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were spotted wearing their playful pieces, the clothes started flying off the rails at such a rate that Cohen struggled to source enough new vintage pieces to add to their collection. So, they decided to make their own. “It all became far too tedious really and we started designing our own clothes, male and female,” said Waymouth in an interview. 

“We went to see Mrs Trott, John knew about her, a little old lady in New Cross who made shirts. We bought the fabric from Liberty’s, flowery fabric, and redesigned the collars and put them on the shelves at five guineas each, which was very expensive in those days, and they couldn’t get enough of them. They just sold and sold.”

Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin

The look that Granny Takes a Trip created has been described by some as ‘anti-fashion’, a psychedelic offering that contrasted with the pieces created by Mary Quant’s hugely successful Ginger Group label. This was not about mass production; it was about individuality and freedom of expression. “We were after something different with these vintage clothes,” Waymouth has said. “Oscar Wilde, the Aesthetic Movement, that romantic look, we were out to change all that. We weren’t anti-anything… we weren’t against what Quant or anyone else was doing. We just wanted to shake things up and break the rules.”

Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin
Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin

When the boutique’s popularity started to wane in 1969, the trio sold it to Freddie Hornik and it was given a distinctive glam rock spin, with branches opening in Los Angeles and New York and a new set of clients that included Led Zeppelin and Elton John. After officially shutting up shop in the late ‘70s, Waymouth has admitted that he was often asked about reviving the famous store. “We’ve been approached many times over the years from several big companies to bring Granny Takes a Trip back – trying to recreate Granny exactly as it was, but I have always been of the mind that it was a moment in time that could never successfully be created again,” he said.

Now, however, it would seem that the time is finally right, as Waymouth gave his blessing for the brand to be acquired by CEO Marlot te Kiefte, who has previously held positions at Wales Bonner, Alexa Chung and Haider Ackermann. She was tasked with bringing Granny Takes a Trip into the modern day, without looking too much to the past or trying to recreate the label’s ‘60s heyday. The result is a digital launch – supported by a group of private investors including the Rolling Stones – that captures the irreverent spirit of the original while also challenging the way we engage with clothes today.

Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin
Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin

The new Granny 2.0 works exclusively with second-hand clothing, recycled materials and deadstock fabrics, and operates a dual rental and purchase model, in a bid to elevate circular fashion. All the deadstock materials used to create the pieces have been sourced from across the UK, including West Yorkshire, East Sussex,  Scotland, Lancashire and London. This sustainable element is crucial to maintaining the ethos of the original boutique, which was the antithesis of today’s fast fashion landscape. “Just as I don’t think the old Granny needs to come back, we don’t need to be making new clothes to join the growing piles of clothes on this planet,” Waymouth has said.

The newly launched range includes an irreverent clash of denim, jersey, tailoring and opulent artisanal pieces. A patchwork leather skirt is one standout item, constructed from panels of vintage motocross trousers and then cleaned, restored and re-dyed with specialist processes in London. A matching tote bag completes the look, created from remaining offcuts and recycled cotton jersey. As with their original pieces, deadstock upholstery fabric comes into play once again, here transformed into a patterned chenille bomber jacket and contrasting trouser set.

Cult 60S Boutique Granny Takes A Trip Makes A ComebackPin

Granny’s musical heritage is also acknowledged in the new pieces, with a series of hybrid tops created from overproduced music merchandise overlaid with vintage lace. Elsewhere, you’ll find carefully restored vintage denim trucker jackets and trousers, artfully embellished with hand embroidered leather whipstitch. And for a true slice of fashion history, original Granny co-founder John Pearse has created a 1960s-inspired suit in deadstock Italian wool, complete with surprise contrast linings in tablecloth lace and John’s own fabric. 

Due to the restricted availability of the individual deadstock materials, the majority of the limited-edition pieces will be offered for rental only, with prices starting at £45 for seven days ownership of a one-of-a-kind 1930s vintage lace dress. Those items that are available for purchase are sold as part of a take back scheme, allowing Granny to recycle or repurpose what is returned and keep materials within its circular service system.

Just as the original Granny Takes a Trip was created as a place of ‘inclusive exclusivity’, the new iteration operates on a fashion membership model – both free and paid – with those signing up able to access the Granny rental archive, as well as special curated brand experiences. If those experiences offer up even a fraction of Granny’s Sixties heyday, the memberships will be worth their weight in gold.

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