Gimme Shelter

Rockins’ designer duo show us around their boho Notting Hill location
By Cristian Burbano | Fashion | 19 February 2018

In the five years since its launch, Rockins has gone from a small run bespoke silk scarves to a fully-fledged label.  Already stocked at over 250 stores worldwide the brand has now opened its flagship store in London’s Notting Hill, just off the famous Portobello Road.

Co-Founded by partners (in life and business) Jess Morris and Tim Watkins, the duo created the brand in late 2014, hand-making a small batch of skinny silk scarves to give as Christmas presents to friends, wrapped inside cassette tape cases designed by artist Tim (who’s worked closely with Gorillaz). Soon, demand started to build and the couple have since managed to parlay their hobby into a highly coveted brand.

This new bricks-and-mortar location welcomes a new physical manifestation of the Rockins label. Expanding the brand’s aesthetic of 70s glam and rock ‘n’ roll luxe, the space comes fitted out with plush velvet seating, vinyl records and other boho furnishings that would leave Talitha Getty in a hot sweat. With the likes of Hawkwind and The Stones on loop, you go for the clothing and stay for the experience.

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“People wanted an antidote to the horrors of war and from that grew a generation who’s output was remarkable – the psychedelic movement altered everything. Our heroes are those who excelled in pushing things forward musically and culturally.”

Cristian Burbano: Rockins had such an organic beginning…
Jess Morris: There was no clever planning stage or big idea. We were both at home with small babies and working freelance – me as a consultant for other brands and Tim taking whatever design and graphics jobs he could get. We spent a lot of time once the kids were asleep playing records, drinking wine and talking about our shared interests which were mainly counterculture art, clothing and music. The name Rockins came about as Tim was using this name instead of his own surname (Watkins).The start of the products (firstly silk scarves) began when we made a batch of scarves for our friends as Christmas presents. On a previous year we had replaced 40 copies of the Rolling Stones Some Girls album inner sleeves with images of our own friends… it worked so well that the idea of using vinyl and cassette packaging was born.

Cristian: The 70s are obviously a huge influence for you, what is it about the decade that really resonates with you?
Jess: It was a post-war landscape, our parent’ parents had come back from the war scared and button-lipped, there was a need for spiritual exploration and enlightenment. People wanted an antidote to the horrors of war and from that grew a generation who’s output was remarkable – the psychedelic movement altered everything. Our heroes are those who excelled in pushing things forward musically and culturally.

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Cristian: You’ve had a lot of success in the past few years selling online and at stockists, what made you want to open your own physical store?
Jess: It’s been great watching the scarves spread across the world like a forest fire but there’s nothing like presenting our clothing and products in our own environment. People get to shop whilst listening to our soundtrack and smelling our incense. We get to hang out with our customers and chat.

Cristian: And why Notting Hill?
Jess: It was the obvious choice for our first shop location. Nestled among the vintage shops and the market and great restaurants. While doffing our cap to the original 70s boutiques such as Lord Kitchener Valet and Biba, Portobello is also where Tim and I first met at Westbourne studios.

Cristian: Tell us about your initial plans for the store.
Jess: We were lucky to find the right shop, a corner property with windows on both sides. It had great wood floors and had been left in great condition by the previous owner. We simply painted everything dark and painted gold leaf shooting stars on the wall. Tim created our incredible hand-painted shop sign, wefilled it with our products and everything came together magically!

Cristian: Any disagreements between the two of you when it came to the store’s decor?
Jess: [laughs] There are regular disagreements but not necessarily about the interior – that went really well.

Cristian: And the store soundtrack? What can we expect?
Jess: Tim made an eight-hour playlist that incorporates tracks that make sense geographically – Hawkwind, The Pink Fairies – but it’s a bit of everything from soul, reggae and classic rock ‘n’ roll.

Cristian: Your skinny silk scarves have become synonymous with your brand but what other product lines will shoppers find at the new store?
Jess: We have a full women’s ready-to-wear collection including velvet suiting, silk shirting, pyjamas, tees and denim.

Cristian: Any plans for a dedicated menswear line?
Jess: Yes! We will start with men’s silk shirting next season and if the appetite is there we’ll continue to expand on styles – some velvet suiting and denim pieces.

Rockins is located at 60 Golborne Road, W10.

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