17th February: Quite funny and annoying as on its opening day, I passed right by Machine-A as I was on my way from the RA with my friends who aren’t partial to much shopping, or browsing in my case.
20th April: After seeing The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (which was greatly produced, acted and will write more about later) I finally got to go to the Soho spot that everyone’s been talking about.
It was nice on Saturday, sunny and blue with not a cloud in the sky; and so too were the store, selection and friendly staff. The minimalistic design, with clear colour scheme and brand oriented racks, showed off the clothes and gave no distractions to them. Split into three with clothes on the left and right, accessories and other down the middle, the store looks quite small at first.
But deceptively so, still stocking enough international garb and London’s finest to tempt anyone’s taste and budget, as I saw £15 Alex Mattsson for Machine-A iPhone cases, £59 Joyrich t-shirts, Mugler and made to order Tigran Avetisyan. The accessories table took my fancy with the AMBUSH DESIGN jewellery, that Yoon designs and her husband Verbal wears, and Raf Simons chain bracelets and necklaces, set above the backdrop of hyper-luxury MCM wallets, portfolios and kitsch teddy bears. Behind a trippy (A$AP Rocky was on while I was in the store) light display is a partially hidden new age-y, stark white, cavernous space with more accessories, clothes, shoes, changing room and a huge mirror at which to ogle yourself (I know I have vented my annoyance to cloth close changing rooms in designer stores earlier, but the Alex Mattsson metallic print links to other items in the store so it didn’t matter as much).
Here too, everything is placed with attention to detail: the clothes have ample breathing space so I could leaf through and really look at a garment without crushing the other items on the rack. Accessories are arranged by step from totes to shoes to t-shirts to backpacks. The most refreshing thing throughout the store was the mix of women’s and men’s fashion, together, that accommodates more open-minded dressers to explore both areas of fashion, and different designers.
I realise that my photos of the back omit a large shelving unit that displayed the Joyrich beanies, Swatch watches and Nasir Mazhar caps (with a perfectly sharpened pencil, that fits into its place) so I have included some from their Facebook page.
I think one of the best things about Machine-A is the exclusivity of the brands and designers it stocks, being the only stockist of international brands, like Joyrich, and London designers’ new collections, like Louise Gray and Jae Wan Park. It keeps me there to discover something new and also anticipate what next will be available. Most of these designers’ clothes, for the first few years of their collections, would most likely be only worn and seen by a select few and it is great that anyone can go and see with their two eyes and feel with their two hands, the workmanship and imagination that goes into creating these clothes. Or simply to buy them, as they are launching an online store next week. The precious yet accessible vibe is something to be cherished.
The addition of more well-known brands, or bestsellers, jolts the selection rather than making it less interesting, as the pieces chosen by the owners, Stavros Karelis who was there but I didn’t get a chance to speak to and Anna Trevelyan who wasn’t, seemed to be the most wanted; of MCM e.g. the studded backpacks and coloured leather wallets, of Raf Simons e.g. the short sleeve sweatshirts and slit shorts, of Mugler e.g. the holographic shirt and various accessories plus sporty SS13 Chalayan pieces. Machine-A’s first incarnation, Digitaria, first opened in 2009 but soon shut its doors, reasons attributed are ‘the window full of limp scarecrow-esque dummies or frightening masks’ and too avant-garde to bring customers and financially survive. The new balance of both is evident at Brewer St.
One friendly sales assistant, of whom I’m pissed that I didn’t catch the name of, was very helpful and showed me around the store, and his favourite items that were coincidentally by my favourite designers. Shaun Samson shorts, that exemplified his signature needle-punch felting technique; in a colour block, nearly dégradé mix of beige cotton material and soft black wool. The craftsmanship is second to none, literally seamless. Then, the LOVED Raf Simons trainers that look better in person. I also spotted a dark green Bernard Willhelm parka-ish coat with quite an imposing structure and wide parachute shape that was quite nice, considering I am mostly averse to Mr. Willhelm’s designs.
It was good to have a wander and a chat in Machine-A and to see the clothes IN REAL LIFE, especially the Raf Simons that I constantly go on about, though I think that next time I will ask more and get the owner’s perspective about the store. Also, they change and add new stock very regularly, so it is always good to have a poke around and see what they have. Machine-A was right up my street.