Threads is a small shop with big ambitions. Sitting proudly on the ever popular Bellenden Road in Peckham, London, it sells vintage clothes, accessories, furniture and homewares; handmade local items including ceramics, bags and prints; and beautiful bouquets. At the back of the shop, Saville Row trained Threads owner Jemima Norton makes custom tailored clothes inspired by the elegant lines and textured fabrics of Jil Sanders.
We spent a morning with the lovely Jemima, admiring the wide range of hand crafted and preloved items, snooping around her workshop, and hearing all about her fascinating journey from Saville Row to Bellenden Road.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, HOW DID YOU COME TO OWN A SHOP?
I studied Fashion at Kingston University. After my first two years of the degree, I felt that I wasn’t getting enough out of the course. So I went in search for a placement that might teach me more about garment construction.
With my cv in hand, I found myself facing down Savile Row. Of course I knew of bespoke clothing, but I had no connection or true understanding of the trade. I began knocking on every door, splurging out my well-rehearsed plea for a position. After asking what seemed like every chairman, head cutter and managing director on Savile Row, I found joy at Norton and Sons. Patrick Grant (the owner) gave me a six month placement and so began my love and passion for bespoke tailoring.
After graduating I began working on my own collection of womenswear, clothing developed from vintage patterns using my skills from the tailoring trade. I created one-off items and worked directly with vintage garments giving these items a new lease of life.
I began building a clientele and also began collecting and trading vintage clothing alongside this service. It wasn’t until I offered my alteration and tailoring service to Threads, some four years ago with the original owner, that my business really took off. I ended up buying the business and spent the next four years, updating and developing the business to how you see it today.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS LOCATION?
Having done the tiresome commute into central London, I decided that my first shop had to be within walking distance of my home. I would always advise anyone setting up shop for the first time to live in close proximity. There are long days at the beginning, but importantly you really get to know your clientele when you live and breathe the same space.
WHAT IS THE ETHOS OF THE SHOP?
Unique, limited and local.
WHAT IS ON YOUR DOORSTEP? TELL US ABOUT YOUR AREA
Bellenden Road has been quickly nicknamed Bellenden Village by its patronage once the central convenience shop was rebranded as the Village Grocer; this simple renaming speaks volumes for the neighbourhood atmosphere that swells proudly in the area.
We have everything you could want on the road, directly across from Threads is Flock & Herd a renowned award winning butcher whose customers come from a distance. There are restaurants and cafes, such as Andersons & Co., bustling from lunch through to dinner.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? AND WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Being a maker myself, it was always very important to me to incorporate local products in Threads. Threads has a micro community of local talent, selling their wares and sharing creative practise with one another.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
My business is very varied and in one week I can produce ten garments for the Threads collection, tailor four vintage garments, do the Friday 3am flower run, trade at a Judy’s Furniture Flea market some 100 miles away from the shop and then go sourcing new stock. At times it can be excessively tiring but by the end of the week it’s so rewarding to see what the business has accomplished, and for me, all the people we have served and traded with. Having your own business is challenging but I wouldn’t want to give it up for anything.
WHO ARE YOUR DESIGN HEROES?
I love sleek tailoring and was drawn to the elegant lines that were the signature to the original Jil Sander collections, with use of textured fabrics that highlighted the Sander silhouettes. The British natural aesthetics of Margaret Howell clothing has always made an impression on me. In many ways Howell’s collections, for me, are reminiscent of the gloriously traditional by-gone eras of the Pre 1950’s. A time when tailoring was only known, before the days when machine- washable fabrics shifted scale on household chores for the 1960s housewife.
Ultimately however the true hero for me, and I think for many leading Fashion designers today, has to be Cristóbal Balenciaga. Revolutionary in his day for the application and innovation of tailoring for women’s fashion, not to mention his New Look controversial at its time. I think his work will continue to be drawn up on and plagiarised for centuries still to come.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SHOP?
As a fashion student I was always making pilgrimage into central London to survey the latest craze at Dover Street Market, almost a gallery or modern museum for the unattainable fashion label.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT OUT?
There is a new eatery just opened two doors down from Threads, The Pizza Boy, I love to meet friends there after work and have a pizza. The owners also have the restaurant Pedler, which is a short walk from Bellenden Road nearer to the Peckham Park. I had a fab birthday there last year.
IF YOU HAD A FREE DAY IN LONDON HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT?
From Peckham I would take the train to Victoria and walk past Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and onto The Wolseley for breakfast. I would slip into the Royal Academy to take in an art exhibition, browse the arcades for antique trinkets and take a stride down St James Street stopping at Davidoff for a lady size cigar. This I would save to take me across to Berwick Street and pick up a few lengths of fabric at the two Cloth House fabric shops. The day would be finished off with a cocktail at the Mayfair Curzon; an intimate little cinema nestled in the more residential Curzon Street.