We sat down with Simon Burstein, founder of The Place London, to talk fashion, work/life balance and life lessons. In this interview he tells us how he continued the legacy of his mother, Joan Burstein founder of the legendary South Molton Street boutique Brown’s, and his future plans for the boutique in Connaught Village.
How did you start in retail?
When I was 17 I worked as a junior sales assistant at Brown’s during my school holidays. This is when Sir William Piggot Brown still owned [the South Molton Street boutique] and I was able to convince my parents to buy it. So from a holiday job, it became a full time job!
How have you managed to make your mark in fashion retail?
I was a student at the French Lycée in London. We never wore uniforms, so everyone was very fashionably dressed. It also helped that in my early years I assisted my mother on buying trips to Paris and Milan. I suppose all that experience has helped me to understand the industry better.
What is the item of clothing that you can’t do without?
My favourite item is my white poplin shirt from Leathersmith of London. Everyone should have one.
Which are your favourite places to go in Connaught Village?
I’ll start my morning with a visit to Abasto; lunch at Stuzzico or Le Pain Quotidien, tea at Cocomaya and if I am entertaining in the evening will alternate between Casa Malevo and Kurobuta. I tend to finish the day by riding my bicycle home to work off all that food!
What’s been the proudest moment in your career?
Seeing my mother receive her CBE from The Queen. Another great moment came accompanying my ex-mother-in-law Sonia Rykiel to Japan for the opening of an exhibition of her work. She sadly passed away recently.
What advice would you give to people starting in fashion retail?
Have a clear vision and believe in your taste. It’s also important to know how to count!
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
That you can’t count on anyone. Also, that it’s important to be brave enough to admit when you may have made a mistake! I am rather stubborn…but then I do like a challenge.
What do you do to relax?
I recently had a new titanium hip installed, which means I can play tennis again!
Who is The Place London for Men customer?
The Place London for Men will hopefully attract a mature man who doesn’t think he likes to shop, but then discovers that it can be fun and enjoyable – so long as you’re presented with a cool edit of everyday pieces.
What are your plans for The Place London for Men?
The concept of all The Place London shops is to have handpicked products from a small number of designers. I also want us to stock products that tell a story and share similar values. Our website is now up and running, which means that we’re open to customers from around the world.
What are you working on now?
Leathersmith of London was originally founded as a diary and accessory brand. Established in 1839, I’m trying to transform it into a lifestyle brand, which respects the same values it was founded on but also takes the brand into a contemporary new realm.
The Place London For Men
31 Connaught Street
Copy Credit: Theo van den Broeke – Esquire Uk, Style Director.