Shop of delights: LN-CC

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

In London's East End, a group of buyers are pushing the boundaries of traditional retail. Harriet Walker meets them

Everyone knows the thrill of discovering a new shop, but it's rare that you step into one so well considered and thoughtfully curated that it feels a bit like revisiting something you've seen in a dream. East London's LN-CC (it stands, somewhat esoterically, for Late Night Chameleon Café) is just such a place: since it opened in 2010, it has become a refuge for clothing cognoscenti and sartorial subcultures alike.

It takes the notion of a concept store into new territory, blending a show-space (masterminded by set designer Gary Card) with an online boutique to create a sense of exclusivity and a warm welcome. "We had a space, we made it look how we wanted it to look and then we filled it full of things we really like," says co-founder John Skelton, 30. "That's our concept. And twinned with the website, it's a viable concept."

Nestling in a block of studios in London's hyper-cool E8 Dalston postcode (designers Peter Jensen and Emma Cook have workspaces in the same building, while Christopher Kane and J.W. Anderson are just down the road), the LN-CC is housed in a Victorian former boxing gym. What sets it apart is its appointments system and stock rotation: visitors must email ahead, book a slot and choose what they want to see online before they arrive. "This space isn't geared up as a retail space," admits Skelton. "To be quite frank, it's terrible as one, so you've got to put the groundwork in on the site."

Skelton grew up in Middlesbrough and had his first encounter with fashion at the age of 15, having dragged his mother out to buy the same Calvin Klein jeans that his friends all had. "I started wandering around the shop and I came across this stuff called Dries Van Noten and was like: 'Mam, have you seen this? It's amazing'. And my dad, he's the most amazing man in the world, but he said: 'John, £450 for a jumper? You need to give your head a shake.'" But by the age of 20, he was buying menswear for Selfridges nationwide; by 22, for Harrods and by 26, he was creative director of cult e-tailer

"It was brilliant," he says, "but it got to the point where it was just an office and a chequebook and I thought: 'I've got to have a go now'." The result is the LN-CC, an adventurous amalgam of Skelton's and his business partner Dan Mitchell's insider knowledge and joint love of fashion and design. The shop itself functions as an exhibition space. "If you want to come at three in the morning and we know you're serious, we'll be here," says Skelton. You'll be shown around the store, its library, even its club – complete with a soundsystem once used by the Sex Pistols to record an album. Usually the tours are taken by his brother, Michael, who manages the shop. "He's very good at making people feel comfortable. One of the first things we say is, don't feel pressured to buy anything."

If this sounds like no other shop you've been to, that's because it isn't. The clothes hanging on the rails are only a small portion of what the team have bought: they are rotated regularly to keep things fresh and there are iPads dotted around the space so customers can browse pieces that are not on show. Each room contains a mixture of mens- and womenswear, carefully selected by Skelton and Mitchell, with the aim of introducing new labels and casting well-known designers in a new and different light.

"This is what we would class as household names, even though they're not really," says John Skelton of the shop's main space, where Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons, Jil Sander and Haider Ackermann all hang. There are two other rooms: one for young designers, such as J.W. Anderson, and Asian streetwear brands, and one for avant-garde names such as Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Junya Watanabe, as well as plans to open two more this year. "I'm not scared of buying the odd lairy piece," says Skelton. "Our look is unique but it's not flashy or showy. I don't pay too much attention to everyone else."

This is key to the LN-CC and key also to its success: Skelton and Mitchell do not select the sorts of pieces you find in many other places. "If we wouldn't wear it, we can't buy it," he says, "If something sold very well last season, we won't buy it the season after because it's not what we want to wear. We were wearing that a year ago."

The LN-CC: 18 Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, London E8 2EZ - 0560 1190 162 -

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones