Simpsons of PiccadillyEdit profile
Simpsons of Piccadilly was a large retail shop which traded at 203-206 Piccadilly in central London, England, and was built as a quality clothing store for men in 1935”“36. Opening for business in April 1936, the store was called 'Simpson' (Piccadilly), but was commonly known as Simpsons or Simpsons of Piccadilly in the same way that J Sainsbury stores became known as Sainsbury's. The architect of this multiple-floor Modernism building was Joseph Emberton, and Simpson's was the first shop in Britain to have an uninterrupted curved-glass frontage. This new style was made possible by arc-welding a wide-span steel frame, rather than earlier techniques which involved using bulky bolted joints. The interior was designed with rooms conforming to domestic proportions arranged around an open staircase. Simpsons is notable for the 42-foot (12.8-metre) spans of its welded steel framing, which produced one of the most elegant shop interiors of the decade, although the purity of the concept was compromised as a result of interventions by the London County Counsil. It was faced in Portland stone as required by the landlord. Straddling two streets, the building has entrances in both Piccadilly and Jermyn Street, where it replaced the former Museum of Practical Geology. The Simpson family, which gave the store its name, established their bespoke tailoring workshop in the East End of London in 1894. By 1929 they had moved it to North London and in the early 1930s created the DAKS trouser with its patented self-supporting waistband. This was in an era where braces were commonly used to hold trousers up; the name is said to have been a contraction of " Dad's slacks". In Australia, DAKS trousers were extremely popular for some time, to the extent that, in Australian English, "daks" (or "dacks") remains the most common vernacular term for trousers and underpants. The brand, somewhat ironically, has not been available in Australia for many years. The company ethos for Simpson of Piccadilly was to be a purveyor of "quality clothes for the well-heeled". Indeed, the store regularly attracted the " tweedy set" including Royals, MPs, dignitaries and country landowners. However, since 1991 (after a takeover), the store attempted to aim its sales and marketing efforts more towards the affluent, younger customer. During the early 1950s, scriptwriter Jeremy Lloyd was employed as a junior assistant at Simpsons; he drew on his experiences to come-up with the idea for the highly-popular 1970s/ 80s television sitcom Are You Being Served? With around 150 staff employed by Simpson's at the time, the building was sold to the Waterstone's chain in 1999 . It is now their flagship store. On the top floor is a bar, 5th View Bar & Food, with a southerly view over the rooftops towards the Houses of Parliament. Although Simpsons is no longer trading as it was, the DAKS Simpson brand of menswear and womenswear continues and is sold in DAKS stores, amongst other outlets. The DAKS flagship store is in Old Bond Street.
Notes and references
Notes and references
- Butler, Marianne; London Architecture, Metro Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-902910-18-4.
- Powers, Alan; Moderm. The Modern Movement in Britain, Merrell, 2005.