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Fashion: Shopping With... Jess Canty

Cult jewellery shop Jess James has supplied London's style cognoscenti for 10 years; its "Prayer Ring" is quickly becoming a modern classic. But Jess Canty, its owner, declares, "Shops scare me. I hate shopping. I get no pleasure from it." Canty does relent sometimes. "I do shop for practical things," he admits.

What Canty really needs to buy at the moment is snowboarding equipment for his annual winter sporting adventure. "I'm buying an air cast boot." The jeweller explains why this rather bizarre-sounding purchase is necessary. "I broke my ankle last year snowboarding and when I went to the hospital they gave me one. It's a new thing to replace a plaster cast. It's great because you can take it off if you need to put on a suit and them put it back on again without having to rip your trousers, and you can have a bath with it off - it's the best thing ever!"

Canty intends to buy this and other pre-emptive first aid stuffs from John Bell & Croyden (50/54 Wigmore Street, London W1, tel: 0171-935 5555). He also stocks up on hard-to-find American toiletries, the very latest razors and particularly a sonic electric toothbrush which sends out a magnetic vibration to dislocate dental nasties. "It's the best toothbrush ever. It really tingles over your teeth - it's fab!"

Canty's snowboarding gear tends to come from surf and snowboard gear specialist Mambo (2-3 Thomas Neal Centre, Earlham Street, London WC2, tel: 0171- 379 6066). He recently bought a "Lust" jacket there. "It's lightweight and waterproof with a sleeveless fleece inside which zips out. You can take it out later when you go to the pub!" he explains.

Instead of completing his snowboarding gear with the obligatory Oakley sunglasses, Canty prefers to choose something from the optician, Isis (153c Fulham Road, London SW3, tel: 0171-823 8080). According to Canty they have "very cool frames" for sunglasses and prescription frames, but it's the service there which really pleases him. "Very expensive places freak me out where you feel you have to buy something. At Isis it's two women who show you everything, and they seem genuinely excited by their stock."

There is one exception to Canty's 'I like shopping only for things I need' line. Shopping for records he describes as an "absolute pleasure". In fact, in a past career the jeweller was an A&R man for a record label. Although he claims not to be very selective about where he browses, he does love Daddy Kool's (in the basement at 12 Berwick Street, London W1, tel: 0171-437 3535). "They have the best selection of reggae. It's been there about 20 years, and I've been going since I was 16. It's still the same old man and he's still extremely grumpy."

Jess Canty has a favourite takeaway: Talad Thai (324 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15, tel: 0181-789 8084). "It's superb," he says. "They also do cooking lessons on Sunday mornings. It costs about pounds 3 a lesson, but then everybody eats what's been cooked anyway. It's very traditional Thai food, with bench-like tables if you're eating in. You have to squeeze on, but the food is superb!"

Imogen Fox

Jess James, 3 Newburgh Street, London W1, tel: 0171-437 0199.