Unchained Mini-Guide to Marylebone High Street

By unchainedguide Last edited 107 months ago
Unchained Mini-Guide to Marylebone High Street

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Marylebone High Street - an awesome Unchained day out

Unless you're a regular at a Harley Street facelift clinic, you probably don't walk past Marylebone High Street very often. But let us assure you that - with or without Botox - this place will put a great big smile on your face. Nestled in amongst the growing number of chichi French chainstores and high street carbuncles are some Unchained gems you won't find anywhere else. And if you come here on a Sunday, you'll also get to visit the Marylebone Farmer's Market - which we're assured is the finest in the whole of London-town. Here's a baker's dozen of our favourite shopping gems:

Caroline and friends - A haven of handcrafted goodness where the shopowner can tell you everything about who made what.

Cox & Power - Ring the bell to be welcomed inside a decadent jewellery shop full of one-off wonders.

Ash footwear - The coolest shoes this side of Milan. High-heeled Cons, anyone?

Rococo Chocolates - Easter's coming, people! Get your loved one a chocolate egg they'll never forget!

Kabiri - If you don't want to wear jewellery that looks like everyone else's, this is the place for you.

Daunt Books - When we tell people about Unchained they very often say “Is Daunt Books on the site?” The answer is yes. And for a very good reason.

Divertimenti - Whatever you want for the kitchen, you'll find it here. Including cookery lessons!

Ginger Pig - Happy animals produce good meat. And that, in turn, makes us very happy. Yum.

La Fromagerie - This is without a doubt one of the best cheese shops you'll ever find. Let the friendly, expert staff help you create the perfect cheese board.

Other Criteria - The home of Damien Hirst's publishing company. It's half bookshop, half gallery - but neither half is immersed in formaldehyde.

Tracey Neuls - Tracey is a widely recognised artisan of quirky foot-furniture. The shop is every bit as intriguing as her shoes.

KJ's Laundry - A lovingly-curated mix of established labels with up-and-coming designers. A fashionista's paradise.

The Button Queen - Put the funk into functional with some interesting fastenings. But please wait three weeks until they move across the road to new premises!

Last Updated 12 March 2009

M@

Cool guide, as always. But I'm confused: how come Daunt isn't classified as a chain? There are quite a few of them.

Mark

This is an interesting question, semantics aside. Is it more important that "unchained" businesses are one-offs, or that they are independent? I'd say the salient questions are about ownership and management. But perhaps businesses should be de-"unchained" if they no longer meet relevant criteria?

RachelH

Daunt is one of those funny places, like Foyles. They're still 'independents' but now they're growing and spreading it gets harder to think of them as such... Does anyone have a definitive answer?!

UnchainedGuide

Good point Matt. And you've answered it for me Mark!

A number of shops on UnchainedGuide have more than one outlet - and I believe Daunt Books has the most (a grand total of 5). But what we're interested in is the independent-ness more than the uniqueness. It's an attitude to business. However, uniqueness is often a side effect of this attitude. Each Daunt Bookshop you go into has it's own character in the way that high street chains don't - and the attitude they have to their stock is also vastly different to a centralised and homogenised chain.

But we do keep our eye on the shops. And they'd be removed from the UnchainedGuide long before they ended up in every shopping mall in Christendom!

Dave

leasimpson

Hi Guys, I'm one of the three founders of Unchained. This very questions has been the subject of many an Unchained meeting.

Mark, to your point, in order to define what a chain is, we think of it in terms of having all the 'trappings' of a chain and that is more about the ins and outs of the businss than the number of shops. Now, saying that, if Daunt opened a few more shops, in a few more cities and if they ran everything out of a head office on some industrial estate, we'd remove them from the guide.

What do you think the 'criteria' should be? We'd love input from people who don't do this every day.

M@

With these sorts of things, I'm always a fan of not having too many criteria or a solid definition, but instead putting it down to gut feeling or 'editorial judgment' informed by the characteristics Dave mentions. It leads to more insightful discussions (like this one) than nitpicking over whether the cutoff limit should be 5 or 6 branches. Was just curious to see what you thought.

UnchainedGuide

Thanks Rachel and Matt, it IS very hard to define the criteria.

Unchained has butchers, shoe shops, corsetries, chocolate shops, ukelele shops, toy shops and everything else you can imagine - so it's been impossible to create a standardised set of rules that can apply across all of them.

However, the one criteria that all the shops have to adhere to is simply being awesome.

Mark

I think you and Dave have a handle on appropriate criteria. In my view, ownership, control and community involvement must be local, local and local. Kabiri has a second store in Covent Garden. Rococo is also in King's Road and Motcomb Street. These are successful businesses, and are rightly taking advantage of opportunities to expand. But there always seems to be an inverse correlation between integrity and the pursuit of ever-increasing profits (at least that's the way things have worked up until now). Unchained is a way of acknowledging and rewarding integrity. But could removal of a growing business constitute penalizing success?

leasimpson

Thanks for all the great thoughts people. M@ you're totally right, conversations like these are far more important and useful than hard and fast rules.

I don't believe removing a growing business is penalising success. Part of the reasons we're useful to shops is because we give them the kinds of things that's only possible as part of a community (being one of a few hundred shops on our site instead of just one shop). If these businesses are successful and grow into a chain, they probably wouldn't find the same value in what we can offer them.