LONDON — One of London’s swankiest retail neighborhoods has been born again, with a Chanel store on the way and a mix of small designer and contemporary labels aimed at the affluent, international locals — in particular the French, Italians and Americans — who live in the multimillion-dollar houses nearby.
A short walk from the South Kensington Underground Station, Brompton Cross lies at the intersection of the Brompton Road, Pelham Street, Sloane and Draycott Avenues, not far from the Victoria & Albert and Natural History Museums. The Lycée, the famous primary and secondary school owned by the French government, is a few steps away.
The neighborhood has always been synonymous with a low-key luxury lifestyle, personal training at KX Life Gym (members include newlyweds Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle), weekend brunches at the Bibendum Oyster Bar and hours of shop-hopping from Chanel to Joseph to Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera on nearby Fulham Road.
Over the past seven years, Tribeca Holdings, the boutique property investment company that specializes in retail, has been building up its portfolio of shops in Brompton Cross with a view of putting a family-friendly spin on the neighborhood and giving it the more intimate feel of a village.
“When you look back to the early Nineties, Brompton Cross was the luxury village away from Bond Street, and Tribeca’s vision is to assist in re-creating that,” said a spokesman for the company, which also owns Old Spitalfields Market in East London.
“Tribeca was attracted to Brompton Cross by a combination of factors, including its prime location between Knightsbridge, Chelsea and South Kensington coupled with the strong French heritage of the area, The Michelin Building (where Bibendum is located), its proximity to the Lycée, and the historical French tenants who have been in the location.”
For years Chanel has had a flagship on the corner of Pelham Street and Brompton Road.
Other luxury names such as Joseph, Ralph Lauren, Daphne’s restaurant, and KX gym have been there for decades, “and Tribeca is building on that heritage of luxury. This has always been a village for the local population, which is affluent, sophisticated and international. In the repositioning, that’s been at the forefront of our minds,” the spokesman added.
A priority for Tribeca was the food offer: Principals said they want parents to be able to meet for breakfast or coffee after the school drop-off or take their kids there for an after-school treat. There’s an Aubaine bakery and café already there (with lines out the door on the weekend) and, thanks to Tribeca, the largest Daylesford Organic Farmshop and Café in London will move in later this summer.
The new site at the top of Sloane Avenue spans 8,000 square feet, and will house an 80-seat restaurant. According to Nick Fletcher, chief financial officer of JCB World Brands, parent of Daylesford, it will offer organic food from the Daylesford farm, all day dining, food-to-go, a juice bar, and home, garden and organic skin-care ranges over three floors.
Tribeca has also been fine-tuning the fashion offer: Brompton Cross has seen 12 luxury lifestyle and fashion retailers sign up to the area in the last two years.
Among them are children’s — and contemporary — labels — such as Il Gufo, the Italian children’s and babywear brand, and the Spanish clothing and accessories brand Bimba y Lola. Chic mother-and-child label Caramel is located on the Brompton Road, too, not far from Zadig & Voltaire and Ba&sh, the French contemporary fashion chain.
Geraldina Bassani Antivari of Geraldina, said she wanted to open in Brompton Cross because “so many of our customers live in the neighborhood. We wanted to offer an easy local destination where they could pop in at any time to discover our newest designs, and sometimes just to say hello.”
Bassani Antivari, who caters to a roster of high-net-worth clients in search of tailor-made, unique pieces, said she wants customers to drop in on their way back from the gym, “or when they need a last-minute outfit for tonight’s dinner, or just while out with friends. The area has a dynamic mix of nationalities, and the interesting retail environment makes them open to innovative ideas.”
Inspired by Jimmy Choo’s roots in the neighborhood, Tribeca has curated the footwear offer, too, tapping the likes of Charlotte Olympia, Golden Goose and Sophia Webster to join the club.
Choo’s early headquarters were nearby, and Princess Diana would famously pull up outside the brand’s Motcomb Street store in London to place her order. “She was always on the lookout for traffic wardens…little wonder when she would drive straight up to the door of our first shop…and park on the double-yellow lines outside,” Choo’s creative director Sandra Choi told WWD in 2016.
The Tribeca spokesman said Brompton Cross has always been something of an incubator for emerging British brands, such as Choo and Stella McCartney, one reason they made room for Sophia Webster at 86 Sloane Avenue. “She’s a young, up-and-coming shoe designer with an international presence and is a real ambassador for young British designers,” said the spokesman.
There are more stores and businesses yet to open: MSGM has confirmed it will take over the historic Chanel space on the corner of Brompton Road and Pelham Street, while Equinox and its sister brand SoulCycle are also set to move into the neighborhood.
In September, Chanel — which is occupying a temporary space on Sloane Avenue — will move into its store on the corner of Walton Street and Draycott Avenue. At approximately 10,303 square feet, the unit will be double the size of the brand’s former Brompton Road store.
Chanel’s temporary store at 72-74 Sloane Avenue will be the last one to activate, according to Tribeca. There is the possibility of splitting the building in half and making two stores, with frontages on Sloane Avenue and Draycott Avenue, or — alternatively — a single flagship.
“It is one of our best buildings, and we are holding it back until Daylesford Organic and Chanel open in the summer of 2018,” said the spokesman.