Cult Brand Granny Takes a Trip Makes Comeback Thanks to The Rolling Stones, Private Investors

LONDONGranny Takes a Trip, a cult London boutique that opened in 1966, is relaunching with a helping hand from The Rolling Stones and a group of undisclosed private investors.

The avant-garde space that lived on the King’s Road featuring Victorian wallpaper, unisex merchandising and a trippy mushroom logo will make its debut online next month.

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The business was started by Nigel Waymouth, Sheila Cohen and John Pearse during the Swinging ’60s, selling pieces from Cohen’s own personal collection and the boutique’s own label brand using upholstery fabrics.

“We’ve been approached many times over the years from several big companies to bring Granny Takes a Trip back — trying to recreate Granny exactly as it was, but I have always been of the mind that it was a moment in time that could never successfully be created again,” said Waymouth, now 84 years old, in an interview. He gave his blessing for the brand to relaunch.

The business has enlisted Marlot te Kiefte as chief executive officer to help restore the brand without looking to its past or dwelling on nostalgia. She has previously held positions at Wales Bonner, Alexa Chung and Haider Ackermann.

Granny Takes a Trip
Granny Takes a Trip

Everything in the reiteration of Granny Takes a Trip will be made from second-life fabrics with new takes on leather and denim.

“There’s something about the growing urgency around issues about the climate and the impact that fashion has on the environment in 2024; there were a few of us talking about the environment in the ’60s, but it definitely feels like the need for change is even more heightened and necessary now because if we don’t change, we won’t survive,” said Waymouth.

Sustainability is at the forefront of te Kiefte’s business plan.

“Our mission is to build and elevate a circular style culture that drives creative expression, individuality and excellence and in doing so changes the way people consume and engage with fashion,” she said.

Since being appointed in 2023, te Kiefte has been working on the business’ design system by setting out new rules, including a materials-first approach so that the in-house designers use secondhand clothes, deadstock and waste fabrics and recycled monofiber.

The first teaser image from the brand is a fly agaric with a label that contains the brand’s name, date of establishment and a tagline that says “Satisfaction Always.”

At its height in the ‘60s, Granny Takes a Trip was visited by Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Marianne Faithfull and The Doors.

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01:  Photo of PURPLE GANG (UK); Posed group portrait - The Purple Gang outside the shop 'Granny Takes a Trip' in Chelsea, L-R Joe Beard, Peter Walker, Geoff Bowyer, Trevor Langley and Gerry Robinson  (Photo by Brian Shuel/Redferns)
The Purple Gang outside Granny Takes a Trip.

Author Salman Rushdie lived above the King’s Road store, he recalled in a 2012 BBC interview, and wished for the courage to enter. One afternoon, he saw The Beatles pull up, so he raced downstairs and knocked.

The store’s velvet pantsuits were notorious for being so tight that the seams would shred by the end of the evening. Pieces from Granny Takes a Trip were included in the fashion exhibition “Hippie Chic” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

“Our first customers were just curious because of the name, but our regular customers at the beginning were often from the local gay community and young debutants because of all the bright colors — and then the musicians came. I still remember when Barbra Streisand came in — just waltzed into the shop unannounced,” said Waymouth.

The fashion at the time consisted of men wearing bowler hats, despite the rising subculture of mods and rockers.

Granny Takes a Trip wanted to carve out individuality by grouping the women’s and men’s clothes on one rail that featured velvet and floral shirts.

“The inspiration for garments often came from finding the fabric. We’d go to what was then a department store on High Street Kensington called Pontings — it was very old-fashioned and they’d have bolts of cloth that had been lying there since the ‘30s,” said Waymouth.

They’d make blazers out of the moiré, also known as watered silk, with each one having a unique look.

Granny Takes a Trip
Teaser image from Granny Takes a Trip.

The idea to start a Granny Takes a Trip came about accidentally.

Waymouth was living with his then-girlfriend, Cohen, who was an avid vintage collector. The couple would spend their weekends going to market stalls on Portobello Road and building contacts with vintage sellers that would trade clothes with them.

After a while, the pair had amassed a big pile of clothes.

“I was working as a freelance journalist for a company in Chelsea’s World’s End at the time and when the company went bust, the landlord offered me the space for a good deal and then we had the shop. It was Sheila’s collection that had started the ball rolling and then she had a few designs of women’s clothes that she wanted to make,” remembers Waymouth.

When the couple met Pearse, he was working as an apprentice to a tailor on Savile Row.

“He knew how to get things made so we had to bring him on board,” said Waymouth.

Fashion entrepreneur Freddie Hornik acquired Granny Takes a Trip in 1969 when its popularity was waning, taking a 51 percent share in the business and the remainder going to Gene Krell and Marty Breslau.

The boutique opened branches in Los Angeles and Manhattan with a new wave of clients including Led Zeppelin, Ricky Nelson, Paul Getty Jr. and Elton John, whose leopard print jacket and rose-tinted spectacles on the cover of his “Caribou” were designed by Chance Wayne, a designer that Hornik had plucked from the L.A. scene.

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