Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reader's questions: A New Yorker in London

London Calling - image from the iconic Clash's album cover.

Believe it or not, we've had our second question from a reader. It feels extremely strange that people ask us things, we are far from experts on anything. That said we can help out on this question because we both have a wealth of experience and most importantly an opinion on the matter in hand. This one's came from Daniel Osburn who moving from New York to London wants to avoid any sartorial faux pas during his sojourn in the UK. His email read as follows:

Steve and/or EJ --
First of all, let me say I've been reading your blog for some time and very much enjoy it.
Second of all, and possibly more creepy, I need some advice. I'm a native New Yorker who is moving to London tomorrow (Thursday) for a job at Conde Nast. Awfully, while I've traveled across America and Canada quite a bit, I've never made the leap overseas. I don't know what to expect at all.
I've packed a sort of capsule wardrobe -- a suit, slacks, jeans, a few shirts and tees, a couple lightweight sweaters and a few pairs of slick shoes. I understand the climate, and style (!!!), of London is going to be incredibly different from here in New York, and was wondering if you could make suggestions so that I don't look like the "typical American" bumming around your country. I want to assimilate as much as I possibly can.

Any other tips, aside from threads, for making a new life in a new city would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Daniel Osburn

Exciting times Daniel! Firstly, good luck with the move! Secondly, I hear you all cry, what is our answer? What are those pearls of wisdom you've been waiting for? For us, the answer is simple: be yourself. We're guessing you're not one of those Americans who's going to go around in a tracksuit or garish Hawaiian shirt with 2 massive cameras slung round your neck, shouting to anyone who'll listen about how terrible the UK is in comparison with the big ol' US of A while cramming your face with burgers and soft drinks (ah, stereotypes...although we do get them, they can normally be seen watching street performers in Covent Garden) so we reckon you'll fit in ok (your packing proves this!). The thing about London is that most of London isn't populated by Londoners. Or even Britons for that matter. It's such a mish mash of cultures and styles where pretty much anything goes. People will probably appreciate any quirks of dressing you bring with you - hell, you may even start some new trends. I suppose this links with what Steve wrote about hipster globalisation, but to be honest we think London's always been this way... a melting pot of style by its very many tourists and all sorts of visitors (long term and short) that they're bound to influence London's fashion sense, even being mistaken for "proper Londoners" and muddying the waters further.

All that said, if you get here and fancy doing a bit of shopping, below are a few our suggestions to get you started:

Steve's been dreaming of creating his own shop guide on the blog for some time now, simply because there just isn't enough information out there (as part of Men Represent we want to kick start the shopping guide because it's a daunting task and we need your help). That said, Timeout recently featured a top menswear list which is a worhwhile read. Steve's favourite stores include bstore, DSM and Liberty (simply the best department stores in London and so damn different), Hurwendeki, Uniqlo, Selfridges, Start and when I'm feeling brave enough, Topman. In terms of recommended areas I love strolling around the Carnaby Street area which has improved significantly over the last 6 months or so; Kingly Court is a great place to find interesting vintage pieces, 22 provides great, affordable footwear (Swear shoes), Hurwendeki, Concrete and Size are on the street or close by to name just a few highlights. To see a different London we recommend heading East, where you can shop for clothes and music (Rough Trade and Pure Groove come highly recommended), eat cheaply and take part in the most wonderful pastime (which will help you assimilate to your new home) of people watching. If you want a shopping companion just drop Steve an email and he will more than likely be up for showing you around!
Have you got any advice for a New Yorker in London?

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