LONDON — Philip Start, founder of East London’s menswear boutique Mr. Start, is shutting up shop after 20 years.
Start founded the business with his wife, Brix Smith-Start, offering designer collections in Shoreditch as the neighborhood rapidly grew into a hub of vintage stores and concept restaurants. The inaugural boutique, Start, offered both menswear and womenswear.
The fashion entrepreneur said that while the store may have gone dark, he plans to stick with fashion and will be working on a new brand.
“I’m contributing to a new British menswear brand that is about to launch. My contribution is on sourcing, retail, retail design and concepts and styling,” he said, but declined to provide further details.
The store’s popularity grew quickly, and it sought bigger premises across the street in 2004. Four years later, Start launched his own tailored clothing collection, called Mr. Start, with a moderate retail price.
His tailoring label went on to show at London Fashion Week Men’s in 2012 and 2013.
“I like ‘formal’ casualwear, so we are using formalwear to influence the casualwear, rather than the other way around,” Start told WWD during his spring 2013 show. He said his favorite fabric was cotton.
“I love cotton suits because they crease a bit, you can wear them with trainers, and you can dress them up or down,” he said.
Start also introduced a capsule collection of women’s shirts in 2012.
He started his career in retail at the age of 16, when he went to work at Garrard, which was appointed the first Crown Jeweler in 1843.
He later moved to Canada with a group of friends, helping one of them run a fashion boutique.
Upon his return to London, he became a shirt salesman at Squire Shop on the Kings Road. Start worked his way up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming general manager and later director of the business.
After seven years at Squire Shop, Start opened Woodhouse in 1975, a small chain of eight shops across London, with one in Manchester. Woodhouse, one of the first to stock high-end Italian brands, lasted for 15 years.
He became part of the Shoreditch revival, opening a jeans store called Start on Rivington Street in 2002. At the time, there were no other retailers on the street.
He opened Mr. Start in 2012, and was one of the first stores in London to specialize in the new trend for slim-fit suits with narrow lapels, worn with sneakers.