When she was a kid, Simran Randhawa and her dad would take regular trips to the old Wembley market where they’d admire the many rows of box-fresh trainers. "That’s definitely a memorable moment, even though obviously they were all fake," she laughs. Questionable authenticity aside, the early exposure to the heavyweights of sportswear initiated a preoccupation with a leisure-ready aesthetic – and an enthusiasm for fresh creps – to which she remains faithful today.
But like a classic Richard Curtis movie from the early '00s, Randhawa's is just one style narrative within London’s sprawling fashion lexicon. Yes, Kate Moss might have spent the best part of a decade advocating a bright rouge to "get the London look", but the reality is that London style rejects convention; just like the city, it embraces difference and welcomes interpretation.
London is a sartorial open house, if you will, with space aplenty for The Dresses – black, white and spotty; neon green and gingham – and for sustainably sourced trainers; for Anne Boleyn velvet headbands and Pleats Please styled trousers. Its fashion capital status is the sum of many parts, and its contemporary style tribes are well informed by a number of cultural arenas.
To celebrate this citywide playground of looks, Refinery29 caught up with three stylish individuals whose wardrobes together mirror London’s unique aesthetic makeup. Shot here using the HONOR 20 and the HONOR 20 Pro – each phone boasts four rear-facing cameras making them, to my mind, the brand’s finest pieces of editorial-ready equipment – style blogger Brittany Bathgate, model and journalist Simran Randhawa, and creative director Anne-Laure share why they hold London so dear, sartorially speaking.
"I always feel like London’s a little more – I don’t know if experimental’s the word," considers Bathgate, "but it’s like anything goes. People express a lot through fashion and style, and it always feels a bit more rough and ready. Especially if you compare it to places in the US. London’s that bit more dishevelled, effortless."
Bathgate’s personal style employs a minimalist outlook. Focusing on shape and silhouette, seeking out cool cotton fabrics and usually leaning into a soothing palette of ice blue, cream and white, hers is a look that feels modern while referencing the classics.
"A big oversized floaty dress is always on rotation," she notes of her key wardrobe staples, "and probably a trench coat and a good pair of Oxford shoes, like a good pair of black lace-ups. I love Margaret Howell, she’s a really good example I think, how she embodies that London style."
"I feel like I'm in a really good place with my wardrobe at the moment. I just bought a pair of shoes from Burberry, which felt really extravagant, but they reminded me of shoes you’d wear as a kid with a buckle at the side. And I just bought this really huge, puff-sleeve white dress, going back to that obsession with big floaty dresses…
"I don’t really follow any big London personalities, but I’ve always admired Alexa Chung, she’s very different to me, but I feel like she is such a London icon in terms of fashion, and has been for so long. A lot of my inspiration actually is from magazines – I do love a good scroll through Tumblr – and I find myself referencing characters from TV shows and films. Anything from the '80s and early '90s I get a lot of inspiration from.
Because of where I live, I don’t tend to shop IRL. But whenever I am in London I do like the physical act of shopping. I like east London, even though lots of people, as they get older, sort of 'get over it', I love the way east London feels still. For shopping it's unique and very different from the rest of London; there’re shops in east that you can’t get elsewhere."
"I live in northwest London but I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really think that northwest has a distinctive style in terms of the way east or south does," reckons Randhawa of her neighbourhood.
Signed to the iconic London agency Storm, the model, journalist & creative, whose Instagram feed fuses her fashion with politics and food – has always been vocal about her Malaysian-Indian heritage, championing the hashtag #decoloniseyourwardrobe; elsewhere she has a secondary Insta account solely for documenting her favourite foods – is most at home, she says, in a good bomber jacket. "One-hundred percent," she continues, reciting the pieces that define her look in 2019. "And a strong pair of trainers. And probably a bucket hat."
"To me, London is a lot more streetwear influenced, or increasingly streetwear influenced. It’s expressive. For example, when I go to LA, I find that the style is much more laid-back, it revolves around basic pieces, and then in New York it’s more trend based. London is more expressive in terms of personal style.
"When I’m around Soho, I wouldn’t say it’s something that I actively look for, but I do notice style. For me anyway, London, out of everywhere I’ve been, is the most consistent in terms of street style and inspiration. I do notice it more in Soho, but regardless of where I am, I always see really good outfits.
"A big part of my identity is being from London, and I think being part of a fashion culture – and having friends in music – influences my style. Even just in terms of brands I wear: I wear my friends' brands that they’ve set up by themselves in London, so 100% it comes through in my personal style. And I’m influenced by my best friend, too.
"Recently I’ve been really into brand magazines, like Billionaire Boys Club and Places+Faces. This is going to sound really weird, but just the way they’re put together. To be honest though, street style around London is my main inspiration."
"I think people in London take more risks," suggests Anne-Laure of her sometime home. "I feel really able to wear whatever I want in London. Other people don’t care about what you are wearing, so you feel more free to try eccentric clothes. I don’t find this freedom anywhere else, this is why I love London. Nobody judges you."
With this vision of the city in mind it’s not hard to see why Anne-Laure feels such an affinity with London: baguette (as in actual bread-shaped) shoulder bags, Burberry checks and pink numbers with fluffy straps are her preferred arm candy. "Fun accessories," she explains, are a big part of her day-to-day look, likewise vintage Levi’s 501s and white tops. It’s with the former, however, that the HONOR 20 and the HONOR 20 Pro are so well partnered: enter the macro lens, a 2MP camera that considers itself king of the close-up – the ideal piece of apparatus for highlighting an accessories collection with such character (see also the telephoto lens, a champ in the zoom game).
Elsewhere the creative director– she founded fashion label Musier Paris in 2018 – similarly favours lightweight frocks and leather jackets, adopting a style that from afar marries Eric Rohmer types with modern off-duty LA, ultimately landing in a place that feels boldly European but with a flavour of London.
"I really love Dalston, it’s very eclectic, the people are more vintage oriented, with a touch of Scandi style. Strangely, when I am in London I like to look very Parisian, I like people seeing me and seeing that I am French. So I play with that. I feel less free in Paris. I don’t really like people looking at me because I am wearing something strange. So I guess that less is more, is what Paris teaches me.
"Instagram is good for inspiration, but I really love old fashion books and magazines. I am literally obsessed with old editorials. I don’t really have a style icon – in London maybe Kate Moss – but I am really inspired by old French movies.
"I exclusively shop online. Right now I am looking for an oversized beige Bermuda, a vintage allover Dior top and some '90s boots."
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