Liberty of London is a store located in the West End shopping district in London. It started in 1875 by Arthur Liberty who traveled the world looking for unique items to sell. It eventually became known for its luxury goods as well as its unique fabric patterns (over 40,000 vintage prints). To this day the department store creates new prints each season. The fabric is used for merchandise and is also sold for upholstery and home sewing. The flagship store was constructed in 1924 out of the wood of two ships-HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. The wood gives the store a homey feel that makes the shopper feel like they are connected to past decades. I first visited the store in 2011 and fell in love with it- My mother had told me about the store after coming across the Liberty of London Target collection. I then saw the collaboration with Nike (and searched everywhere until I found a pair on Ebay) and knew I had to visit the store.
As an American my first impression of the store was through collaborations with American retailers. I then became fascinated with the store and its rich history. Here is a quick run through of my favorite collaborations with American designers/brands.
1.) Target- In February of 2010 Target launched the collection. Target has a history of collaborating with designers for a wide arrange of items and this was no different. Blouses, dresses, and bedding were all up for grabs. My favorite items were a Liberty of London printed beach cruiser bike and the tea set (for obvious reasons).
2.) Nike- I could go on for days about this collaboration. Simply put, it is brilliant. I love Nike and I was fascinated with Liberty of London but never would have thought to pair the two up. It is a match made for the sporty girly complex I face every day. The delicate florals, in contrast to the sporty and often masculine appearance of athletic shoes, perfectly offset the other. The shoes were once only available in limited quantities and would sell out within two months in the UK. I was on a mission to find a pair for myself but after some stealthy internet snooping I realized they were only available at two boutiques in the United States ( LA and NYC). This would not do! I scoured eBay and landed the perfect floral pair that I wore (literally) everywhere. They are now available stateside from stores like Nordstrom’s and other boutiques. The new collection comes out every spring.
3.) Sperry topsiders- classical boat shoes brought the liberty print to the masses with their collaboration of women’s footwear. The Liberty florals covered both the classic boat shoe and canvas ked like sneakers.
4.) J Crew- This happens to be one of my favorite retailers. I have been buying business professional shell tops from there since I was 15 (far in advance of when I would need them). The collaboration with Liberty brings an unexpected youthfulness to the brand. Classic button downs and floral print jeans liven up the basics. Jenny Lyons has always been one for mixing patterns tastefully and this collaboration feels like an extension of that.
5.) Levi- The American classic teamed up with the UK classic to create some far-from-stuffy items. All the items can be purchased through the Liberty of London website/store in the UK or through Levi stores or website in the US. The collaboration came out this spring (2013) and features the cutest crop tops, skinny jeans, duffels, blouses, and shirt dresses. Each item incorporates classic inspiration from Levi denim with a made specifically for the collaboration liberty print.
6.) Marc by Marc Jacobs- The most recent collaboration is available through Liberty of London and features Nylon backpacks, tablet cases, totes, and make up cases in two vintage Liberty of London prints. The cute backpacks make the sting of post-grad life that much sharper. Maybe I will take up camping just for an excuse to use the backpack and makeup bag ( hey! Even when I “rough it” I still need my mascara).
7.) Doc Marten- although not an American Brand I feel like I must mention the collaboration. Doc Marten thick soled boots have often been associated with tougher crowds. The Liberty print collection brings a freshness and newness that has me refreshing the freepeople.com homepage over and over again hoping the shoes magically go on sale. I have always been a fan of Doc Martens; my awkward socks and sandal Dr. Marten phases as a 90’s child will prove it. It’s hard to believe but the updated version has me mesmerized 15 years later.