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Merchant's Archive

Shop owner Sophie Merchant talks to Dazed about her store Merchant Archive and the love that goes into it.

Once a Lipton General Store, now home to Sophie Merchant’s carefully chosen plethora of objects for the home and healthy range of vintage and contemporary clothing. Her expertise lies in 1920’s - 1940’s, however the store specialises in craftsmanship of any era - you will find pieces dating from as far back as the 1850’s.  Fashion wise, Merchant Archive showcases contemporary designers Zambesi, Double M, Jessica McComack, AM Eyewear and currently exhibits the work of Photographer Cordan Crabb.

Dazed Digital: Opening a shop requires a huge amount of planning, has it all been worth it?  

Sophie Merchant: Opening Merchant Archive has been 100% worth it. The quote "I had a dream that was not all a dream" kind of sums it up. I’m sure I thought about opening a shop for so long that it rose up like a Phoenix. I had no business experience but you learn on the job. My worst moment was when a Z-list celebrity took 16 of my best pieces and the cheque bounced, it’s hard not to take that personally but you just find a way there are so many incredible moments that far out weigh any negatives.

DD: Where does your inspiration come from?
Sophie Merchant: There is inspiration everywhere, in everything, I'm inspired by beautiful objects and by the work put into making them be it 100 years ago or last week. I'm inspired by colour especially that which has changed over time. I don't often look at the overall picture but work on the detail and the rest materialises.

DD: How would you describe your style?
Sophie Merchant: My style is that of a girl who has time traveled the world since 1850 and arrived in London with a trunk!  I live in vintage but never without a contemporary edge, that's the way I've always dressed so it’s very apt that the shop stocks both vintage and new designers. A Victorian jacket can look so contemporary and I love the exclusivity that brings.

DD: Where do you want to take the shop?
Sophie Merchant: The shop has become a meeting ground of late; I'm constantly introducing people it’s starting to feel like a 1960s bohemian hang. We will be exhibiting artists starting with the wonderful photographer Marco Sanges, launch online in a few weeks and are looking at starting a t-shirt label. My ultimate dream is to have a Liberty size store full of new designers libraries of archive garments, exhibitions and inspiration. I could live on the top floor like a grand scale Vianne Rocher where everything is also for sale so my space constantly evolves - a girl's got to dream!

Merchant Archive is located at 320 Kilburn Lane, London, W9. Tel. 0208 969 6470.