We were over the moon to start our summer season with a brand new London stockist - none other than vintage boutique Revival Retro. Owned by the elegant Rowena Howie, Revival has gained a reputation for being the go-to boutique in London for stylish vintage inspired clothing, excellent customer service and the friendly, supportive community amongst its customers. Rowena even organises regular events, from cinema trips watching old Hollywood favourites, through to fashion shows as the prestigious Fashion and Textiles Museum, celebrating the best of fashion through the decades of 1920s - 1960s. A selection of our autumn collection will be stocked with Rowena, and we will have a special Palava event of our own coming up in time for the launch in September.
Based on Windmill Street in central London, Revival Retro stocks a wonderful selection of dresses, knitwear, outerwear, shoes and accessories. Their colourful display of 1940s inspired heels always has me drooling!
It really was a dream come true for us to be stocked in such a beautiful shop. And it’s not just for those based in London - Revival also sell through their website, where you can browse styles by decade if you’re looking for an era-specific outfit. The shop team are always on hand to offer style advice with their expertise of fit, shape and colour coordination.
I recently visited the boutique to have a chat with Lottie, shop manager, and Rowena herself - about the background of the boutique, what’s unique about Revival and their personal style inspiration.
Rowena: “Revival is place for women who have tired of trend led fashion and have perhaps become frustrated with shopping on the high street. We try to offer something special and different focussing on flattering fits for all shapes and sizes. For this reason we are retrospective rather than fashion forward often taking inspiration from the feminine tailoring of the 1940s, the powerful silhouettes of the 1950s and elegant design of the 30s. Our beautiful, award winning boutique is a place that people like to spend time in not just for shopping but all kinds of interesting events too. I don’t come from a fashion background, I’ve always worked in customer service. I was able to make the move to boutique owner because I made a business out of a hobby, swing dancing, it started off with just shoes and later grew to include clothing. It was the point where Friends and acquaintances who new nothing of my hobby started asking where they could buy what I was wearing that I began to realise this could become something much bigger than I initially imagined.”
Lottie: “ I was drawn to Palava because I just can't resist a novelty print! My favourites are the ones where the pattern isn't obvious right away.”
Rowena: “I think everyone, including me, buys things because they are flattering / comfortable/ practical but pretty but what connects you in the first place to pick something - a print / a design / colour / texture? I think that sometimes it’s not possible to define exactly what it is but you know it’s special and that’s exciting! I love those moments of genuine excitement and it’s even better that I get to share them with others.”
“Rita in the Umbrellas print has been our best seller thanks to it's flattering shape and beautiful colour. My personal favourite has been the Beatrice in lobster print. It's just a really easy dress for everyday wear and the print is quite the talking point!”
Lottie: “Carmen Miranda. All the colours, accessories and shoes, just an absolute dream!”
Rowena: “Katherine Hepburn. The ability to look effortlessly well dressed in even the most casual of clothing. A great pair of trousers, a structured jacket, a simple blouse... Katherine looks stylish whatever she wears it’s not just about getting done up for a night out.”
Lottie: “I'm torn between Some Like it Hot and Rear Window.”
Rowena: “Swing Time. Everything backwards and in high heels! Ginger Rogers is so amazing.
Lottie: “Our community is so important because we are so much more than clothes and shoes. It's a wonderfully supportive and inclusive community that we can put the world to rights with.”
Rowena: “It was. I mentioned that the business started because I was into Lindy Hop dancing where there is such a strong sense of community. Later, when I began to sell clothing there was a huge interest in original vintage clothing from the 30s, 40s and 50s but I found the vintage scene a bit snobby. I often felt people were judging me and sometimes I felt excluded. When I opened my shop I was determined we would be welcoming to all and that it would be a place where people could feel free to try new things, to ask questions or solicit advice. It’s incredibly important to me that women feel happy and comfortable. If clothing can play even a small part in that then great and if any member of my team can help make that process easier, enjoyable and even fun then we have achieved our goal. I think that’s how our customers come to see themselves as part of our community, they trust and respect us, they know we care and that we are only too happy to help.”
Lottie: “My favourite event has to be our birthday party last summer because it cemented just how close we have gotten with our customers. We've made some great friendships over the years!”
Lottie: “I've only been in London two years so a perfect day for me would be going somewhere I haven't been before, soaking up the atmosphere and taking too many pictures of interesting buildings!”
If you’re thinking of dropping Rowena and her team a visit, here is their full address:
30 Windmill Street
Tel: 0207 636 8922
They can’t wait to see some of you there soon!