Quirky Corbridge-based lifestyle shop RE is to take up permanent residency in exclusive London department store Liberty.
The move follows the successful pop-up concession RE ran over four months last year in the Regent Street emporium beloved of London’s rich and famous.
The new outlet is set to open in mid-March and will give business partners Simon Young and Jenny Vaughan 700sq ft of space in which to display the idiosyncratic and salvaged home wares and accessories RE has become renowned for not just in Northumberland but nationally over the last eight years.
It was in 2003 that Simon and Jenny – whose backgrounds are both in the fashion industry – opened their Aladdin’s cave of new and vintage household items and objet d’art in a disused building in Bishop’s Yard just off Main Street in picturesque Corbridge.
They quickly built up a loyal customer following locally and their products began appearing in glossy women’s and homes magazines, helping push RE into the national spotlight.
In March last year – just one month before RE’s pop-up enterprise opened at Liberty – Simon and Jenny picked up the prestigious Retailer of the Year accolade at the Homes and Gardens Designers Award.
Now following their most successful festive season ever with orders pouring in from across the UK and further afield, the pair are looking forward to what they hope will be a truly prosperous 2012.
Simon said: “We’re really looking forward to opening a permanent Liberty shop after seeing the response to our four month pop-up experiment last summer.
“This time we will be taking over a dedicated, contained space so we can recreate elements of our Northumberland store to inspire all the rooms in your home.
“We hope to spread colour, pattern and joy!”
Jenny added: “Today’s home owners are more nomadic, they create a home out of whatever they want and out of the new, the old, the second hand, the mass produced and the hand crafted.
“It’s been our RE philosophy since day one.”
RE will be based just off the East Atrium on the fourth floor of Liberty. The area will be divided into key product categories with an ever-changing calendar of seasonal displays focusing on key events and past times, such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which is due to be celebrated over four days in June this year; British summer time; harvest festival and folklore; Hallowe’en and, of course, a recycled Christmas.
The ‘eat’ area will house candy-hued American milk glass cake stands, printed plates, coloured glass and a new range of skull shot glasses and tea light holders. The ‘cook’ section will focus on tea towels, vintage storage jars, scales and biscuit cutters.
‘Shrine’ will be dedicated to Simon and Jenny’s love of Mexican trinkets and Day of the Dead motifs, with a new Last Supper print range of tea towels and plates.
‘Outdoor’ will feature rusty metal signs, restored garden furniture and vintage pots and tools. Meanwhile, ‘Utility’ will cater for the cleaning obsessed and those with a love of hardware.
Vintage wool blankets and a new range of nostalgic school blazer stripe cushions will make up ‘living,’ while old maps and framed pin boards will be available in ‘Office.’
RE has for many years enjoyed a strong London following through the internet side of its business, a relationship Jenny and Simon hope to cement through their Liberty outlet.
Michelle Alger, Liberty’s buyer for home and gifts, commented: “I am delighted to have been reunited with Simon and Jenny. We will be stocking newly developed exclusive products and plenty of RE classics.
“The theatre that comes with their visual display sets the products off in a totally unique way, and the seasonal themes will mean there is always something new to look at every time you come in.”
Jenny and Simon, who both live in Northumberland, first met in the mid-1990s when they worked for clothing company Dewhirst at Peterlee in County Durham. Before that Simon had lectured on the world renowned fashion design course at Northumbria University in Newcastle.
Both are drawn to the unusual and the interesting and RE sells anything that corresponds to their idea of what is beautiful, “not precious or prescriptive, differentiating ourselves by offering the unexpected in unusual combinations making us unique,” Jenny explained.
Simon added: “We love utility, both old and new, small runs and mass production alike. We also sell cared-for second hand pieces like garden tools, lighting, textiles and furniture, because they are functional and still work.
“We also have recycled and fair trade products and our own exclusive range designed in house under the REgd brand.”
Simon and Jenny source their products both locally and abroad – the Tynemouth Station weekend flea market in North Tyneside with its range of bric-a-brac and antique stalls is a favourite haunt – and they are just preparing to head-off to the start of year trade fairs.
Simon said: “It’s great to know that a shop in rural Northumberland is getting all this attention.”