Hide & Seek, Wirral – Shop Review
“I WANT it to be a place customers can feel relaxed in,” says Emma. This I can safely vouch for – the tea was flowing (as well as the cake) at this point, and we chatted as old acquaintances would. Relaxed? I think so.
Set back in a terrace of small businesses on the Wirral, Hide and Seek is an oasis of everything vintage and bespoke; a haven of fine fancies in a world where Primark reigns and everything is mass produced.
Emma is a magpie for all things vintage, from a dressing table to a ball gown, she transforms the ordinary to the extraordinary by adding her touch.
It’s hard to fathom the previous occupants had been a solicitors firm. And to my surprise, there’s plenty more renovating on the cards. T he ceiling being covered in lampshades, for one, I’m told. Emma has her foot on the pedal, and everything under control.
There was very much a ‘home from home’ feel to the place. I’d literally stepped through the door and already it was like popping round to Gran’s house for a cuppa, what with the array of china teacups, rustic furniture and, of course, the clothes.
“I’d like customers to feel comfortable to walk round the store with me busy in the corner – similar to the boutiques in New York.” She has this laid-back approach down to a tee, no doubt thanks to the time she spent in the Big Apple.
“I went to New York on a six month trial, working for a print studio that sold to the likes of DKNY and Calvin Klein.” Little did she know that she would stay for almost four years, even becoming a trend forecaster for Liz Claiborne. And with freelancing for Monsoon, another addition to her CV, she certainly has a hefty load of experience under her embellished belt.
So what’s the story behind Hide & Seek? “I was particularly inspired by a Louis Vuitton floral collection that had fairies and nymphs hidden among the pattern,” she says. “I liked the idea of seeking out things from a design.”
In fact, a major part of the job relies on her eye for detail – to seek out eclectic patterns and factor them into her designs. The logo of Hide & Seek incorporates everything Hide & Seek has to offer: furniture and fashion all under one roof. Emma is a magpie for all things vintage, from a dressing table to a ball gown, she transforms the ordinary to the extraordinary by adding her touch. Colour and pattern are her biggest inspirations and she stops at nothing to get her hands on something that’s caught her eye, venturing worldwide to the realms of India and New York to source her embellishments. She certainly goes the extra mile.
Being a bespoke boutique, Emma makes just five pieces of a design to maintain this mantra. The garments themselves take only a few days to make, “It’s the decorating that takes time” she says.
The process is fairly straight forward. She finds a dress, templates the shape, adds the screen prints to revamp it and then puts the icing on the cake with embellishments and embroidery. She’s proved popular with Merseyside ladies who aren’t disgruntled by her prices (dresses £40 – £200, T-shirts £69) and is their number one go-to for a dress that will wow. Her designs have been flaunted at every event under the sun, from the races to weddings to celebrity hoo-ha’s. One thing’s for sure, Emma is on the ball with the latest fashion crazes.
And if (for some unbeknown reason) this isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, Emma has planned to host a variety of workshops available for the public, old and young – whether you’re a seamstress or have never picked up a needle and thread in your life.
The workshops last for three hours and you’ll have the choice of area you want to specify in. There’s the chance to customise your own T-shirt with a choice of patterns and even include your own personalised label. For the bride-to-be, you can make your own head wear and garter to really push the boat out and make something unique with a group of your best pals or your loved ones all washed down with tea, coffee or a cheeky Pimms.
There’s also an embroidery workshop where customers can design their own swatch which will then be printed on anything ranging from a cushion to a cardigan. Emma’s very customer orientated and thus she developed the workshops to give something back to her customers, whether it be helping them to revamp their wardrobe so something that would otherwise end up looming in a charity shop window passes as brand-spanking new, or simply teaching them a valuable skill that’s handy to have when the hem’s fell down from their best black pants.
Despite her eleven years of success, her feet are still firmly on the ground with Emma even offering to help up and coming designers who have turned to her for advice. Her passion is hard to ignore – inspiring even. She’s aiming to feature her collection at London Fashion Week in February once the boutique is up and running and the workshops are in full swing. When asked to describe her designs, Emma said, “It’s a capsule collection that can hopefully venture throughout the world. I want it to be a move-on from the vintage.”
And as for me, Hide & Seek was a great find – worth the journey and I’ll definitely be anticipating the finished thing – lampshades included.
The Shoe Box: Reviewed
Where is it:
Basement of Curiouser and Curiouser
70 Tib Street
Given that The Shoe Box has only been open for a few weeks, I was very much surprised on entrance at what I discovered; with every shoe specifically shelved, standing out against the cerise backdrop, it was clear that a lot of passion as well as blood sweat and (hopefully not) tears had gone into the shop.
It definitely welcomed the feel of a boutique, something owner Louise had hoped. “I designed it all myself, with the help of a builder” she told me as we sat, surrounded by a sea of shoes, “I’ve loved shoes since I can remember, this has always been my dream and I just went for it.”
Carrie Bradshaw eat your heart out. The Shoe Box has already been established in Staffordshire for a year, but being based on an old market wasn’t exactly Louise’s dream. “I wanted to come somewhere a bit younger and livelier and I used to work in Piccadilly Gardens so it seemed right to relocate here.”
What does it sell?
The obvious, shoes, but there’s also a small range of tights on sale. There’s a whole host of brands on offer, Shellys, Ravel, Miss L-Fire, Beyond Skin, Mel by Melissa, Bronx and Hunters with more coming in the near future.
Who shops there?
Located in the Northern Quarter, The Shoe Box is aimed at shoppers looking to find something unique without a daunting designer price tag rather than a bog-standard high street replica.
Why shop there?
Louise hand-picks all her stock, keeping her eyes peeled for those hard to find labels and keeping her finger on the fashion pulse to find cheaper alternatives than those of designers. The Beyond Skin shoes are vegan, made with suede sourced from Jaguar and Mercedes cars and are handmade in Spain. (Prices from £15-£150)
”I’d just like to be successful,” Louise said when asked what her hopes are. She’s happy with one store and hopes to have a lot more brands on offer with a diverse range of shoes to meet every taste. “I hope to maintain the boutique vibe, with good customer service and offering something that’s different to the high street. “ There is also a Facebook page for The Shoe Box.
Though the small store lives up to its name, The Shoe Box has big potential as home to brands that were once forgotten with the likes of Ravel and Shellys.