Former Blustons owners return for opening of new charity shop
Famous red and white spotty dress restored to the window display as Octavia Foundation move in
19 November, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
IT brought memories flooding back for Michael and Marilyn Albert – the former owners of iconic Blustons clothing store – as they returned to Kentish Town on Saturday to celebrate the shop’s re-opening.
The Octavia Foundation charity took on the lease of the famous high street women’s clothing shop and welcomed in customers on Saturday to browse through racks packed with second hand and vintage clothing.
Mr Albert’s grandparents set up Blustons in the 1930s – one of four shops they owned in north London with the name above the door – and Mr Albert began ringing sales up on the tills when he was a 16-=year-old.
The family would buy outfits in bulk from rag trade warehouses and tailors in Commercial Road and continued doing so right up to 2015, earning a reputation for particular styles that ranged from sensible and austere outfits through to dresses cut to 40s and 50s patterns.
But after the family retired in 2015 and sold the business on, Blustons has enjoyed mixed fortunes.
It was used temporarily for an exhibition by mens wear designer Paul Smith. Another clothing firm ran it for a year but announced sales were too low to be sustainable – and the shop, which has a Grade-II listed facaded and interior, was squatted for a time before being boarded up.
Mr Albert said he was pleased to come back to his former shop – and see the care Octavia had taken as they got it ready to re open.
He added: “All the shops my grandparents ran were called Blustons and they all had a similar 1930s design, but this is the only one left now so it is good that it has been protected by listed status. And I’m very pleased to see the shop open again. It is positive for the community – and for me personally, it is great to see our old shop with its name so closely associated with my family, open for business.”
Octavia have been given a dress made by 1950s-style dress designer Vivien of Holloway to grace the front window – a landmark from back in the days when the Albert family was in charge. Work has been done on the original signs and windows while inside cornicing and lights have all been restored, with the original wooden cash till also on display.
Octavia Foundation Director Reena Mukherji said: “It has been a joy for us to bring Blustons back to some of its former glory. People have a great affection for this shop, so we are looking forward to being able to open its doors to them again.”