When we began selecting products for LABOUR AND WAIT over twenty years ago, we soon realised that our proclivity for brown tones could result in a completely brown shop. We regularly have to keep ourselves in check and ensure a variety of hues and colours find their way to the shop floor.
In December of 2014, our calendar image caption read the following:
"The colour of the earth. A rich, dark, peat brown, evoking leather, wood and even chocolate. We always find ourselves drawn to this colour; its depth has a graphic quality like black, but with a warmer, more natural feel. We even fantasise about opening a shop where all the products are brown!"
This September we are surrendering to our weakness: London Design Festival provides us with an opportunity for a tongue-in-cheek homage to the venerable and stoic tone to which we are indebted. Offering a mixture of vintage pieces, new finds and limited edition versions of familiar stalwarts, LABOUR AND WAIT BROWN will ‘pop-up’ for nine days in September on Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch; a short walk from our Redchurch Street shop.
LABOUR AND WAIT BROWN
16c Calvert Avenue,
London, E2 7JJ
12th - 20th September
Monday to Saturday 11.00am - 7.00pm
Sunday 11.00am - 5.00pm
The gaudy colours of a sweet shop are something of an assault on the senses! The visual ‘noise’ created by the packaging and colours of different brands is all but deafening. The neat rows of pick ‘n’ mix sweets in jars create some order amidst the chaos. The smell of a traditional sweet shop can sometimes evoke a Proustian moment!
Though not strictly speaking a shop, most people need a garage at some point. There are certain tasks where only an expert will do. The mechanics themselves are often only half visible, plunging head first into an engine or disappearing under a chassis. The distinctive aroma of fuel, oil and rubber divides opinion, but we love it!
At Labour and Wait we spend our time sourcing and developing products which will stand the test of time. We firmly believe that good quality well-designed items enhance our daily lives, and we hope that a sense of timelessness pervades all that we do.
‘British Standard’ follows a similar philosophy. Their straightforward wooden cupboards are designed and made in Suffolk using traditional methods, proving that it is still possible to find honest properly made cabinetry which will last a lifetime.
Here, British Standard’s design director, Merlin Wright, test drives his top picks from Labour and Wait in his London home.
1. BREAD KNIFE
"Made by Opinel with a wooden handle and serrated blade, which is particularly effective on crusty loaves."
2. COBWEB BRUSH
"The soft, bulbous brush and long handle enable people with high ceilings to sweep away cobwebs and dust without damaging paintwork."
3. PRESERVING JARS
"These airtight jars are perfect for storing dry goods such as flour and rice; much better than leaking plastic bags and you can see how much is left."
4. TEA INFUSER
"Loose tea tastes much better than tea bags but is fiddly and messy to use for a single cup - this infuser is simple to fill with a single scooping action and to empty after use with a flick of the wrist."
5. RE-ENGINEERED BROWN BETTY TEAPOT
"The perfect teapot, improved. This classic design is now stackable and has a removable metal strainer for easy extraction of old tea leaves."
6. BIB APRON
"In thick brown cotton with robust ties and brass eyelets, this classic apron can be used in the kitchen or workshop. This is the long version with a neck loop to protect the whole torso and has handy pockets for small tools or a recipe perhaps."
It's been quite some time since we last opened the door at 11.00am to Redchurch Street customers, so it brings us great yet trepidatious pleasure to announce that we will be reopening from TUESDAY 14TH JULY.
All of the new processes and cautiousness surrounding shops reopening after this lockdown will be heeded, and we'll be working hard to make visiting safe and as pleasurable as before.
We will return with more information closer to the date.
See you all soon!
A visit to a good fishmonger can be like a lesson in marine biology! Who knew what extraordinary creatures lived under the sea? They are fascinating (and sometimes terrifying), to contemplate.The fishmonger’s is a wet and chilly world, where rubber aprons and boots offer some protection from the icy produce.
How much more appealing to browse the shelves of a good grocer’s, than to be faced with the bland, generic interior of a supermarket. Tried and tested brands are stocked, together with a selection of local produce. The goods on offer will often have a seasonal bias, inspiring recipes and ensuring variety. A good grocer’s can make food shopping a pastime rather than a chore.
Since closing our Redchurch Street shop due to the ongoing virus crisis, your utilisation of our mail order service has kept us, the staff left able to work, busier than ever!
We are truly thankful of the continuous support by ordering with us online. However, being a small independent business with about three quarters of our staff currently 'out of office', we are somewhat slower than usual getting your orders out.
Do not fret! We're working hard, safely, separately; measuring, wrapping, taping, boxing, labelling. Your order will reach you, but it may take a handful of days rather than a couple. Please bear this in mind before calling or emailing us, as this will distract from our main task: getting your order in the post and into your home.
If you do have any questions regarding our offering and services, do feel free to pop us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible: email@example.com
Keep those hands washed and keep those orders a'coming!
Grow your own! A garden shop can be the gateway to horticultural heaven.The green-fingered amongst us will feel at home here, but even the enthusiastic beginner will find everything they need to bring nature that bit closer to home. From houseplants to allotments, we all need a bit more green in our lives, don’t we?
Although not to everyone’s taste, the skill of a highly trained butcher amounts to an art. In a classic striped apron and wielding a panoply of terrifying tools, a knowledgeable butcher will advise on the best cuts for specific recipes, then prepare them with finesse.
The smell of freshly baked bread is hard to beat, evoking contentment and warmth. Few can resist the lure of a good baker’s shop, with its tempting array of bread and cakes. The bakers have been hard at work for hours by the time we arrive to survey the fruits of their labour. How could we survive without our daily bread?
It may be quite apparent that those of us at LABOUR AND WAIT are ardent tea drinkers. Another notable tea drinker was George Orwell. He had very strong views on (very strong) tea, and here's his essay from the Evening Standard of 12th January, 1946, complimented with our own serving suggestions.
Thus, we fully endorse the following statement:
"If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.
When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:
First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.
Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.
Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent."
For Spring/Summer 2020 at Dover Street Market in London we have selected a succinct range of old favourites alongside some exclusive products just for our space in this respected department store.
The usual base of black products are accompanied by ecrus and whites, including an exclusive oversized Japanese canvas carryall.
Visit Dover Street Market here:
Mon – Sat: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm – 6:00pm
Ironmonger’s and hardware shops were really the starting point for LABOUR AND WAIT. We have always been fascinated by the variety of practical goods on offer: kitchen gadgets, tools and of course brushes! This type of shop is very close to our heart with its wealth of functional products for every domestic chore.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Labour and Wait.
We are now closed for the Christmas period. Thank you for another year of your support and custom.
See you in 2020, our 20th anniversary year. Keep an eye on our news section for celebratory events and projects.
Our Redchurch Street shop reopens at 11.00am on 2nd January and our Workroom reopens at 11.00am on 6th January, 2020.
As we approach the big day at the end of the year, please order by 1.00pm GMT on the following dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery...
|United Kingdom||...||19th December|
|European Union||...||17th December|
|North America||...||15th December|
|Rest of World||...||13th December|
Please note that we close down for Christmas and New Year between the dates of 23rd December and 6th of January, during which time our mail order department is away. Our Redchurch Street shop reopens from the break on 2nd January, 2020.
We're very pleased to say that, thanks to our customers' response to the CRISIS AT CHRISTMAS Black Friday alternative, we will be donating £1000 this winter, to help homeless people throughout the United Kingdom.
If you want to donate or help homeless people this Christmas, visit Crisis this Christmas.
This autumn marks the fifteenth anniversary of Dover Street Market. This exceptional store was conceived by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and opened on the street which bears its name in September 2004. Soon after, we were thrilled to be invited to join the Dover Street Market family, and to curate a space offering our timeless goods.
To mark their fifteenth anniversary, Dover Street Market are holding an event called 'Monochromarket'. They have asked friends old and new to create a monochrome product that defines and celebrates their relationship with the store.
With this brief we have reinterpreted a true stalwart of LABOUR AND WAIT, our cotton canvas bib apron. In a very limited run this Monochromarket bib apron is in pitch-black canvas, with a giant screen printed Dover Street Market logo on the inside.
Find these aprons exclusively in Dover Street Market London from 29th November, 2019.
We have worked with Lavenham of Suffolk to create a garment which demonstrates our commitment to functional products and timeless design; a set of values shared by both brands.
Lavenham takes its name from the Suffolk village in which it was founded. The company was established in 1969 when they began manufacturing the world's first nylon quilted horse rugs. They quickly expanded into outerwear and were the first brand to make and sell a quilted gilet.
A service provided by Lavenham is the supply of a foal-sized horse rug to a breeder within 24 hours of the foal being born; an important and necessary swaddling tool in the first few weeks of a horse's life.
Lavenham predominantly work with British cloth manufacturers, renowned for their durability and quality, and the same is true of the wadding they use in the quilting, which comes from the North of England and is made of 65% recycled fibres.
Our gilet is an unfussy expression of the heritage of Lavenham with the timeless utilitarian aesthetic of classic workwear.The product is practical, functional and modest – inspired by the type of garment worn by the bucolic labourer.
This unisex gilet is reversible. One side is a robust canvas with corduroy trim and large utility pockets; the other is a two inch diamond quilt with subtle patch pockets, typical of the Lavenham tradition.
Like all Lavenham garments, our gilet is proudly made in Suffolk, England.
Available to purchase on Thursday 14th November.
Introducing 'Fifty High Street', our new collaborative pop-up venture in Bruton, Somerset, with the team behind Hole & Corner magazine.
Within Fifty High Street you will find an evolving selection from the amplitude of our offerings, now available in south west England until Christmas 2019.
From the outset Hole & Corner has celebrated the creativity, heritage and dedication of the craftsperson. Now with Fifty High Street, they are advancing this commitment through a selection of curated objects and workshops.
Fifty High Street will be hosting demonstrations by resident makers, offering an insight into the process behind the objects, detailing their dedication and skill. This will provide an opportunity to learn from the makers, with workshops and talks within the shop and further afield around Bruton.
Fifty High Street is now open. Find us there until the end of the year.
In the Tour de France of the 1940s and 1950s, competitors wouldn't be seen without a metal 'bidon', the container that riders used to carry water.
The most recognisable bidon was Coloral, a fluted alloy bottle with a cork stopper and tooled cap signed off with a scripted logo. Riders didn’t just reserve them for bottling water, but also to preserve a simple blend of milk and sugar that kept energy levels high during competitions, and even wine when celebrating victories.
An original Coloral bottle
Despite its cult status, Coloral’s production dwindled and ceased completely in the mid-1950s due to manufacturing pressures.
For London Design Festival 2019 we are celebrating the reintroduction of this handsome, timeless icon. The reengineered Coloral bottle is upgraded using brushed, food-grade stainless steel. Its robust design is lightweight and compact, and its dimensions slightly tweaked to fit modern bottle cages.
It's a perfectly satisfying vessel for those not on two wheels, too- it has been vacuum insulated to keep cold drinks cool and your hot drinks piping hot, and there’s no plastic used in the flask or its packaging.
To celebrate this classic reborn, we have worked with Coloral to produce a limited edition of 100 bottles with a red seal, and will provide a free musette style bag with every bottle purchase. These will be available for the duration of London Design Festival, alongside a small exhibition of Coloral collateral in our Redchurch Street shop.
Saturday 14th - Sunday 22nd September
Finally! For years customers have asked us whether we either stock a wall clock or if we ever will. After a long and unfruitful search, we have specified our own. Our wall clock is made by a company who specialise in clocks for industry, including schools, laboratories and swimming pools. We have worked closely with them to create this clock which, in terms of quality, harks back to their products from earlier times; a real glass lens, printed metal face, and metal hands and case. The clock of course features our favourite Gill Sans typeface.
Find it here.
We are pleased to reveal the opening of a pop-up LABOUR AND WAIT space within the Bermondsey premises of respected architectural salvage company LASSCO. A short walk from London Bridge and the ambrosial Bermondsey Street, the space is set within a railway arch and opens onto The Ropewalk, a narrow Victorian thoroughfare beside the railway.The Ropewalk is named in reference to eighteenth century eccentric Robert Rich, who made rope in the area, and the passage was marked thus on John Roques' map of 1746. Since 2010, the Ropewalk has become the venue for a lively and popular weekend food market, with vendors selling their produce from stalls along its length, and includes a handful of restaurants and bars within the railway arches. Equally as beguiling to us, there's even a timber yard, so we certainly feel at home!
We at LABOUR AND WAIT have always felt an affinity to the vibrant atmosphere created around a market; our very first shop being situated in the heart of Brick Lane.Our pop up space showcases a selection of our quality, functional products, alongside the quirky and interesting salvage of LASSCO.
9.00am – 5.00pm
10.00am – 5.00pm
11.00am – 5.00pm
020 7394 8061
We're very pleased to announce a new selection of specials for our Dover Street Market spaces in London and New York.
You'll find our traditional Guernsey sweater in black for the first time, alongside a black leather tool case, black felt coaster and placemat, black indoor watering can, black cotton drill pinafore dress and black hurricane lamp. We're also pleased to announce a very welcome return to our classic Folio Bag in, you guessed it! Black canvas.
In what will be our twentieth year, the LABOUR AND WAIT calendar is a clarion call for the salvation of traditional high street shops and services. These unpretentious businesses were the original inspiration behind LABOUR AND WAIT, where quality goods are for sale, and interaction with the shopkeeper is a part of the retail experience.
As the months progress, our 2020 calendar is a tribute to these shops, their owners and to the wealth of products and expertise they offer. We hope that small independents can somehow weather the storm to reclaim their rightful place as pillars of their local communities.
Our 2020 calendar is available to purchase now, and will be posted out in July. In the meantime, here are some behind the scenes images of the making of 'Shop Talk':
We are extremely pleased to show off one of our latest products, this recycled coffee grounds reusable cup.
Following the familiar paper/plastic form usually found discarded and in an untenable abundance, this cup is made from coffee grounds collected from local coffee shops in Berlin. The grounds are compressed and combined with a natural and biodegradable polymer to create this eco-friendly cup, which has quickly become the conscientious commuter companion of many staff at Labour and Wait.
Here's to a good, responsible brew!!
Out in the Pacific Northwest, there are some of our bib aprons working very hard for the premier cocktail company in Portland, Public Provisions.
Founded by Melaney Schmidt and Malia Myers, Public Provisions provide beautiful and culinary-driven cocktails for special events. Their menus are driven by the seasons and integrate ingredients that highlight the distinct flavours of this part of the world.
But why choose aprons from 5,000 miles away?
"We love these aprons because their look is striking but also understated and professional. When the guests and clients we serve notice the apron, we know they're taking note of all of our intentional details including our choice in workwear. The aprons are durable and well-constructed, perfectly holding up to the demands of bartending whether we're inside serving a seated dinner of 60 or outside in a forest, serving a wedding party of 300.
"When working, we are usually building stunning, complex cocktails that require many steps to complete, and we are repeatedly reaching for tools and ingredients within a small 3 foot radius. This type of dance behind a bar requires us to be able to move swiftly. The construction of the apron is conducive to that mobility while also maintaining its constructed integrity, a perfect balance for our needs. That said, our choice in apron hardly ever goes unnoticed and we always enthusiastically refer inquisitors to Labour and Wait!"
Follow Public Provisions on Instagram: @publicprovisions
117 Newington Green Road
London, N1 4QY
Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is a non-profit organisation, where proceeds are donated to the 'Ministry of Stories', a writing and mentoring charity based in East London for those aged between eight and 18. Through a variety of programmes, the Ministry of Stories help children find and realise their creative potential.
This shop is strictly for monsters, so visits by humans can be risky business. There's an invisible cat that could trip you up, and various options of tinned fear stacked frightfully high. Such names as Zadie Smith and Charlie Higson helped select some of the finest tinned fear you'll find on the market.
To avoid any mishaps and keep customers safe, there are helpful staff on hand, wearing our bib aprons to keep them clean, should there be any unfortunate accidents.
On the aprons, Monster Supplies say that "when we opened we looked around for a stylish and sturdy shopkeeper apron that could handle occasional spillages, for example when customers paid by human sacrifice, and could clean up easily. The council eventually cracked down on alternative payment methods and we've found tidier ways to serve up AB and Type O+ that don't lead to as many mishaps, but we have kept the aprons because we love them. Please consider making these in XXXXXXXXXL as our monster customers would love to purchase!"
All photographs by David Rowswell
Melody Park is a fine artist and children's book illustrator based in Seoul, South Korea, who is no stranger to our bib apron...
"If I remember right, I bought the apron in the Labour and Wait London shop in 2013. At that time I did all the long legwork of buying the perfect working clothes for me, and I found it in Shoreditch Labour and Wait shop. When I found the shop and the green tiles, I felt intuitively I could buy something here.
"After 2013, my studio location has moved from Kingston, Glasgow, Nürnberg and to Seoul now. I have always worn the apron in the studio, whichever the city. The apron is perfectly made with width, depth and height so I can wear it tightly, with a good feeling. This is very important, because when I paint I move rapidly and energetically. The apron is a very suitable working clothes for me as a painter."
Andrew Moran has been the LABOUR AND WAIT photographer since the company was founded in 2000. In this role, he has taken the still life shots for the company’s calendars for the years 2012 -2018. For Photo London, the annual photography event in the capital, he presents an edited selection of these timeless images in book form.
The resulting slim volume forms part of a series of photographic journals published by the Silverhill Press, a small independent publisher based in Hastings.
These books are available exclusively at our Dover Street Market London space for a limited time, alongside a small selection of reproduced images to view.
Photo London runs from 16th to the 19th of May, 2019.
Mon – Sat: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm – 6:00pm
See more of Andrew's work on his website: https://amoranblog.wordpress.com
Established in 2005 by Oliver Shute, The Wild Fork is an event bar and kitchen based in rural West Berkshire.
"We specialise in creative, contemporary food and providing a bespoke service for all occasions in locations across the United Kingdom, from treasured Grade 1 listed buildings to historic castles, garden marquee weddings, boardrooms, shoot lodges and pop-up restaurants."
"These hard-working brown canvas aprons, a Labour and Wait classic, have become an essential work wear favourite at The Wild Fork. Desirable but practical, robust and comfortable, we haven’t found a better performing apron for our waiting staff and bartenders. Our head chef has also claimed one of his own for the kitchen. And the classic, vintage style always catches the eyes of our guests. Who knew wearing an apron could give so much pleasure! They’ll be out in force at our Waterfront Enclosure during Henley Royal Regatta this summer."
Follow The Wild Fork's food stories on Instagram: @thewildfork01
Images by Jamie Dunn Photography
Darcy's Kaffe is a recently opened coffee shop in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"I started back in November, doing pop ups and events and then moving into a basement in Nørrebro just as the weather got too cold. My friend Jacques, who started Ofr Copenhagen (the original shop is in Paris) moved in with me in December with his beautiful selection of books, magazines and art and together we are slowly developing something special."
"My girlfriend, Scarlett, who is an architect and has her studio based in a room at the back of the shop, bought me my Labour and Wait apron as a congratulation/good luck present for opening my own place, and I have worn it with pride every day since (literally - I’m open every day at the moment!) I find the pockets useful for pens, matches, bits of coffee kit and receipts, and the size is perfect for a busy day making drinks and food."
"I look forward to many more days behind my espresso machine and seeing how the apron ages over time."
We look forward to seeing it, too!
Follow Darcy's Kaffe on Instagram: @darcyskaffe
Follow Jack and the project on instagram: @lordlowe
General Store is a neighbourhood grocery shop in Peckham, South London, who sell cheese, bread, coffee, wine, beer, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and lots of store cupboard essentials.
Image from Monocle Magazine, 2013
They are truly a shop after our own heart here at Labour and Wait, sharing not just aesthetic cues, but attitudinal ones too; they work with producers and suppliers who focus on the quality, integrity and provenance of their produce.
We're also very pleased to say that not only are our aprons worn at General Store, but they sell them, too!
Follow General Store on Instagram @general_store
172 Bellenden Road,
Peckham, SE15 1BW
Monmouth Coffee Company started roasting and retailing coffee from 27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, in 1978. For thirty years they roasted their coffee in their basement (a production location we’re all too familiar with here at Labour and Wait!) but since 2007 they have larger facilities in Bermondsey to accommodate production for their now two shops, the other being at 2 Park Street, next to Borough Market.
Photograph by Trent McMinn
Sourcing and roasting coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives is important to Monmouth Coffee, and allows them to establish strong relationships with the growers and exporters to ensure quality and fairness.
Photograph by Trent McMinn
Monmouth were the first adopters of the Labour and Wait apron, outside of our own shop. Many customers came to us after the staff at Monmouth had kindly told them where the aprons were from. As Monmouth Coffee Company are leaders in their field, this is an association of which we are very proud. In the early days, the aprons weren’t even labelled, so we relied totally on word of mouth recommendations like this!
Monmouth Coffee Company
27 Monmouth Street,
London, WC2H 9EU
Labour and Wait on Cheshire Street, 2002
Our canvas aprons have become a Labour and Wait classic. We made the prototypes ourselves, as staff uniform, in the basement of our original shop on Cheshire Street in 2000. Soon customers were wanting to buy them, so we found a factory in the UK and started production.
A classic Cheshire Street sight, 2005
Cheshire Street, 2006
Our aprons were inspired by traditional shop coats worn in ironmongers and warehouses, the likes of which ceased being produced many years ago. Since inception our aprons have been often imitated but never quite equalled. They are made from robust and hardwearing cotton duck fabric, with brass eyelets and herringbone tape ties.
Redchurch Street 2016, by Alun Calender
As standard, we only offer our aprons in one colour; a stoic, trusty brown. However, over the years we have partnered with others to give a different spin on our aprons. In 2014 we worked with Monocle magazine to produce a special limited run of dark olive aprons with ecru tape and gunmetal eyelets; and in 2017 we jointly produced a denim apron with Blackhorse Lane Ateliers in Walthamstow, which referenced jeans heritage by using copper hardware instead of brass.
Limited edition Monocle apron, 2014
The Tokyo shop team, extolling the virtues of our aprons! 2017
From these humble beginnings, we now supply the classic brown apron to restaurants, coffee shops, artists and craftspeople worldwide. To celebrate our aprons and their users, throughout 2019 we will be featuring a variety of apron wearers in our series 'Covered'.
Redchurch Street, 2010
For London Fashion Week we have produced our Fisherman’s Smock in black. It will be exclusively available at Dover Street Market London from Friday 15th February, and available at Labour and Wait from March.
This classic item of workwear has been an essential outer layer for British fishermen for over a century. It’s practical and utilitarian nature makes it equally popular with artists and craftspeople. Our smock is made in England and from 100% cotton canvas.
You can find out more about the history of the Fisherman's Smock here.
With a new and exclusive petrol blue colour on offer, we felt it was time to give a little back story to our Welsh tapestry blankets....We work with one of the last remaining working woollen mills in West Wales which has a history dating back over 125 years. For the past 35 years it has been run by Mike and his family. And Mike is the best man to tell us about his tools and processes:
We have sold these beautiful blankets for many years at Labour and Wait. We source vintage and antique blankets from all over Wales, and we never fail to be astounded by the brightness and variety of the colours. However, as their popularity has increased, so has their price, and it becomes harder to find the spotless - and the mothless - examples we are looking to sell. So we were very pleased to work with Mike and his mill producing high quality modern versions.
At the moment we sell the blanket in red, natural, gold, green and petrol blue; with a orange pattern in the works, which remain exclusive colourways to Labour and Wait.
“The cone of red yarn is a sample of dyed yarn used to make our Welsh tapestry bedspreads. It is a blend of 100% pure new English wools spun specially for us by a long established firm in Huddersfield. It is then sent onto Bradford where it is dip-dyed using well established traditional methods.”
“The natural yarns used in our tapestries are from Wales and are, of course, the natural colour of the fleece with no dyeing involved.”
“Did you know that 7 miles of yarn is required to make 1 double size bedspread, and in doing so the threads will cross over each other 5.3 million times. WOW.”
WOW indeed, Mike. It sounds like a lot of work, but at least we have something wonderful to show for it.
Our thanks go to Mike for showing us the mill, and for revealing the intricacies of the Welsh tapestry blanket.
Every six months, Dover Street Market perform their 'Tachigari' metamorphosis, where they close down for a few days, and each resident in their Haymarket space transforms into the new season's collection. 'Tachigari' means 'beginning' in Japanese, the process of changing to the new season.
Here is our new selection for the first half of 2019.
With the most sedulous care, our staff in the Workroom are picking, packing and posting all of your Christmas orders.
In between the cardboard boxes and gallons of tea required to undertake this mammoth task, they'd like to remind you that today is the LAST DAY of guaranteed UK Christmas delivery, so get your order in before midnight to avoid disappointment!
The traditional ‘Zori’, are sandals with a Tatami sole. This type of Japanese footwear allows free flow of air around the foot. What a contrast with a pair of British slippers, whose very purpose is to insulate! Climate differences have certainly made themselves felt in the respective design of indoor footwear.
For the impending festive period, we were asked if we would like to take part in an advertising campaign to help promote local and independent shops of the high street by Visa. For such a conscionable and 'close to home' cause, how could we say no?
Find our involvement below, amongst a panoply of fellow independent retailers of repute.
Read more about the campaign here.
The traditional enamel saucepan is of a type we might remember from our grandparents’ kitchen. British saucepans, with their distinct long handle, are little altered. The Japanese example, with its hand-beaten surface and untreated wooden handle, shows an appreciation for craft and the aesthetic of the handmade.
We are proud to introduce our new Fisherman's Smock. This venerable piece of workwear has been an essential outer layer for British fishermen for over a century, but it has also been popular with painters, sculptors, potters, craftsmen… and shopkeepers! So what is it and why do we like it?
The fisherman’s smock is a classic example of functional, utilitarian clothing. The Folkestone fisherman pictured above is wearing the traditional pocketless version. Smocks were originally cut from sailcloth, making this garment a strong and sturdy extra layer. This kept the wearer warm and dry, protected his woollen jumper, and was comfortable and easy to work in. The slightly shortened sleeves prevented the cuffs getting wet - a feature also seen on Guernsey jumpers and Breton shirts - while the tight fit and high neck ensured maximum protection from the elements.
By 1910, the heyday of the herring industry, smocks were being supplied to fishing communities throughout Great Britain. But it wasn’t just a uniform for fishermen to work in - the practical, utilitarian nature of the fisherman’s smock meant it was adopted by many artists and artisans.
The cheap, tough, easy to find smocks provided the perfect protection for artists as well as sailors. Here, sculptor Barbara Hepworth wears a smock as she sketches. In the early decades of the twentieth century, St. Ives in Cornwall became a popular destination for artists. We can well imagine they were inspired by the clothing worn by local mariners, such as this rather motley bunch from along the coast in Mousehole, whose white smocks betray their sailcloth origins.
In-keeping with these origins, our smocks are also made from sailcloth fabric, which washes and ages beautifully, very much like good denim. The only alteration we have made to the original are longer sleeves and a triple patch pocket.
Whether for sailor or sculptor, the fisherman’s smock remains a functional and timeless garment.
Pictures from the National Maritime Museum Archive and the Pentreath Photographic Archives. Photograph of Eli Farrow the fisherman by Walter Clutterbuck, from the Norfolk County Council Library.
The German enamel ladle, with its utilitarian form and mottled decoration, contrasts with the Japanese, made from the surprising material choice of wood. The enamel ladle is almost exclusively for food, whereas the wooden ladle can be found at the entrance to tea gardens for the washing of hands.
Cauldon Ceramics of Staffordshire maintain the tradition of red ware manufacturing and are the oldest remaining maker of the Brown Betty teapot. Together with designer Ian McIntyre they present this re-engineered edition. It includes the reintroduction of innovative precedents in the history of the pot: Alcock, Lindley and Bloore's 1920's patented 'locking lid' and 'non-drip spout' have been applied. A subtle tweak to the foot and neck of the pot now allows the lid to be inverted into the body, enabling it to be stored efficiently in the factory and stacked in cafes and restaurants. The new addition of a loose-leaf tea basket has also been added.Great care has been taken to respect the traditions of the Brown Betty, whilst implementing new production processes and design details. To re-style the pot, the designer felt, would have been a disservice to the years of refinement that have gone before. This latest edition is intended to promote the legacy and value of this everyday object that has transcended fashions and trends to become a reliable and dependable tool for millions around the world.The Re-Engineered Brown Betty Teapot is available to purchase on Saturday 15th September from our Redchurch Street shop and online later this Autumn.
The combination of the Rockingham glaze and the red clay was and still is fundamental to the success of the Brown Betty, prolonging the life of the object for its owner and, subsequently, through history.The Staffordshire clay used to make a Brown Betty was first refined in 1693 by Dutch brothers John Philip Elers and David Elers. The brothers emulated the fashionable and expensive Yixing teapots which had originally been imported from China by the Dutch East India Company. The refinement of the local red clay gave rise to a new era of technological experiment in Staffordshire, becoming a catalyst for the industrialisation of the six towns that now make up Stoke-on-Trent.
The process of design of the Brown Betty spans centuries. There is no single identifiable author and no single definitive version of the pot: it is an anonymous and evolved object. Over the years, Brown Betty has been through the hands of numerous makers, each producing their own interpretation, subtly refining and amalgamating new and original design details. The resulting teapot is a rational object stripped of anything superfluous to its function or production.
Although there is no definitive version, the manufacturers Alcock, Lindley and Bloore were responsible for cementing the archetypal features of the pot as we know them today. Some of the most recognisable features of the Brown Betty were combined during their production: the globe shape of their pot that is so efficient at infusing loose leaf tea, the roughly cut spout that breaks the flow of water, preventing tea from dribbling back down the outside of the pot, and the Rockingham glaze that concealed any dribbles that did, despite efforts, escape.
Brown Betty describes a type of teapot with common characteristics of red Etruria Marl clay, a transparent or dark brown Rockingham glaze and a familiar portly body. The ritual of tea drinking has remained largely unchanged for centuries. All over the world people choose a teapot as their preferred apparatus and the humble Brown Betty is often heralded as the archetypal example.
The popularity of the pot is proven in the quantity in which it has been made. By 1926 the Staffordshire pottery industry was making approximately half a million Brown Betty teapots a week. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the object itself or its early history and design development. This affordable, utilitarian and unpretentious object has largely gone unnoticed, disappearing into the fabric of everyday life.
The Japanese jug demonstrates the preference for a matt surface glaze. It has no handle- it is simply grasped. Though not actually hand thrown, this jug clearly has many attributes of a craft object. Paradoxically, the British ‘Denby' jug is in fact handmade, but strives to achieve the uniformity of mass production.
For London Design Festival 2018, Labour and Wait is excited to present the Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot. The new teapot is the result of a three year research and development project by ceramic designer Ian McIntyre.
Ian has worked closely with Cauldon Ceramics of Staffordshire, the oldest remaining maker of the traditional Brown Betty teapot, to bring his vision to life. New production processes have been implemented and past innovations such as the ‘locking lid’, and ‘non-drip spout’ have been reintroduced.
The teapot incorporates a removable metal strainer for loose-leaf tea, whilst subtle adjustments to the foot and neck, enable the teapots to be stacked efficiently in the factory and subsequently in cafes and restaurants.
This re-engineered teapot retains the best features from the classic Brown Betty, and by virtue of its refinements, brings this everyday archetype up to a new standard of discreet functionalism.
The new teapot will be available for purchase in the shop from Saturday 15th September, and online later this Autumn.
London Design Festival runs from Saturday the 15th, until Sunday the 23rd of September. Ian will be on hand throughout Thursday 20th September, should you wish to meet the maker and discuss his creation.
Teapot image by Milo Reid
A balloon whisk in stainless steel contrasts with the exquisite delicacy of a Japanese tea whisk. The Japanese ‘Chasen’ is used to mix green matcha powder with hot water, and is an essential element of the traditional tea ceremony. The ubiquitous Western balloon whisk does not carry connotations of refinement and formality.
Two traditional lunch boxes. The marbled enamel example is from France, where lunch boxes of this type were used by labourers and schoolchildren alike. The interior reveals a small, lift out tray for bread. The circular box in Japanese cedar likewise has a removable inner tray. Its smooth flawless finish makes it a joy to handle.
This simple Japanese ‘Yunomi’ is an everyday cup for tea drinking. Sensibilities towards crockery can differ between East and West. The Western ceramic traditions tends to favour smooth, shiny surfaces. In Japan, uneven, often matt textured surfaces are not uncommon. The classic British ‘Berylware’ cup and saucer reminds us of summer fetes and vicarage tea parties!
These paintbrushes, though superficially similar, are constructed in quite different ways. Is it just familiarity with the Western example that makes the Japanese brush so interesting? The single piece handle divides to grip the bristles tightly and has an undeniably Eastern line.
The ‘Tawashi’ scourer is made from Hemp Palm fibres bundled together around a wire core. Highly tactile objects, these scourers are still commonly used in Japan. In Western kitchens, the knitted, metallic scourer is a more familiar sight. Seen here out of context, each scourer assumes characteristics of a surrealist art object.
These two caddies are similar in form, but on different scales. Since the 1930s, Cornishware has been instantly recognisable in Britain, with its coloured stripes evoking the sea and skies of Cornwall. The size of this caddy makes it a perfect container for tea bags. Meanwhile, the traditional Japanese example is used for loose tea. It is handmade from raw tin and is intended to develop a weathered patina with use. Also shown is the copper scoop, which normally lives inside the caddy.
Introducing the E2 jean, exclusive to Labour and Wait.
Specified by us and manufactured in Walthamstow, London, these jeans are cut in a relaxed heritage fit, with a straight leg.
They are made from 14.5oz selvedge denim, with great attention paid to the detailing and construction. This includes hidden rivets, a reinforced back pocket and a patch made from our iconic canvas apron fabric.
Our jean is suitable for both men and women.
Here we find two opposite approaches: The Japanese saw cuts on the pull stroke whereas the traditional Western saw cuts as you push. The different methods have evolved because of the types of wood they were required to cut. The refined Japanese saw works well on a soft wood like cedar; the more robust European saw tackles harder woods such as oak.
Tea is considered a national drink in both Japan and Britain. The aesthetic of both teapots is redolent of their culture. The traditional Brown Betty is a common sight on many British breakfast tables. This classic round teapot, made from the red clay found in Staffordshire, is considered the ideal shape for producing the perfect cuppa. In Japan, the iron ‘Tetsubin’ teapot is favoured for both heating and brewing, partly because the iron changes the taste of the water, making the tea mellow and sweet.
Now that our 2018 Calendar is sold out, we will be sharing each monthly image on our blog throughout the year.
For this calendar we are comparing domestic items from the Eastern and Western worlds. Whenever we visit Japan, we are fascinated by the way in which our different cultures approach similar tasks, and the way in which generic products have evolved in consequence. Our choice of calendar subjects is unashamedly esoteric, but we hope you will enjoy a very personal appreciation of the singularities of East and West.
Our first shop on Cheshire Street was fitted out with a set of vintage enamel industrial lampshades, which we had found at an antiques fair. Customers would always ask to buy them, so we decided to put them into production. These iconic factory style shades quickly became one of our best selling lines. That was around fifteen years ago!
Although there are now numerous industrial type shades available, we feel our high quality enameled steel shades offer amazing value and are still the pick of the crop.
We also sell a range of twisted fabric covered flex and metal bulb holders which complete the look.
Labour and Wait is delighted to collaborate with The Gentle Author to present a Spitalfields Life Bookshop for 10 days at our Bethnal Green Workroom. This will be a rare chance to take a look at all Spitalfields Life Books titles in one place and have a peek behind the scenes at Labour and Wait.
The bookshop will be open between 11am and 6pm everyday from Wednesday 26th April until Saturday 6th May, except for Sunday 30th April.
On Tuesday 25th April at 7:00pm, we shall be launching the latest title from Spitalfields Life Books, A HOXTON CHILDHOOD & THE YEARS AFTER by A.S. JASPER and we hope you will join us in a celebration. There will be drinks and readings from the work of A.S. JASPER, as well as some live music entertainment from fiddler Dan Mayfield and singing by Henrietta Keeper.
Click here for ticket availability.
A.S. JASPER’S tender memoir of growing up in the East End before the First World War, A HOXTON CHILDHOOD, was immediately acclaimed as a classic in 1969 when it was described by the Observer as ‘Zola without all the trimmings.’
In this definitive new edition, it is accompanied by the first publication of the sequel detailing the author’s struggles and eventual triumph in the cabinet-making trade, THE YEARS AFTER. Illustrated with line drawings by James Boswell and Joe McLaren.
Ticket holders will be entitled to a £5 discount on A HOXTON CHILDHOOD & THE YEARS AFTER during the event.
Labour and Wait Workroom
30 The Oval, London, E2 9DT
We are very excited to announce the opening of our Labour and Wait shop in Tokyo. We have enjoyed a longstanding association with Japan over many years, and have several concessions there in different cities. We are always impressed by the level of interest and product knowledge of Japanese customers, who really seem to appreciate the detail, and share our enthusiasm for timeless functional items.
The opening this week represents an exciting opportunity for us to bring the complete Labour and Wait story to Tokyo. The new shop is situated in an area called Sendagaya, just a short walk from Harajuku station. The area has a definite ‘neighbourhood’ feeling, much like that which we experienced when we first started in Shoreditch seventeen years ago.
We are indebted to our colleagues in Japan for making our vision a reality, and are looking forward to the next chapter of our story.
Labour and Wait Tokyo
1-1-12 Jingumae Shibuyaka,
Opening hours: 12pm - 8pm
There are certain objects with which we find ourselves endlessly fascinated. Our mutual admiration of these, helped form the basis for LABOUR AND WAIT, and in many instances feature in our product assortment to this day. Just what is it that makes these objects so appealing to us? Why do they capture our imagination in such a powerful way? For our 2017 calendar, we are exploring these questions further.
Throughout the year we will be sharing each monthly image and accompanying text.
We have always felt an affinity with workwear as it is a perfect expression of utilitarian aesthetics. One of the most timeless staples of the modern wardrobe derived from workwear is undoubtedly the denim jean. From the pioneering frontier Americans of the 1800s pushing west following the gold rush, to James Dean making them ‘cool’ in the 1950s, denim jeans have an unmatched, redoubtable reputation in the world of trousers, being both sturdy and reliable.
Here at LABOUR AND WAIT we have always appreciated the hard-working denim jean, and we have at last found some that exemplify our values. Blackhorse Lane Ateliers was founded in 2016, with the intention of creating authentic, premium quality selvedge denim jeans manufactured in Walthamstow, London. We are proud to say that we are their very first stockist.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers was founded by Han Ates, a veteran of the East London clothing and textile manufacturing industry; and Toby Clark, a recognised and highly-regarded designer. They strive to create a business that connects nature to industry and which invests into the local community with an eye for sustainability and ‘the long game’.
Han and Toby are keen to promote close relationships with like-minded, creative individuals in the neighbourhood. To this end they have created studio spaces within their 1920s factory building for individual makers who share their vision. This encourages collaboration across different disciplines such as leather working, weaving and dyeing, similar to the approach of the Bauhaus.
The jeans we have chosen from Blackhorse Lane Ateliers are made from responsibly sourced 14oz raw denim with a red selvedge edge. The fit is a straight leg, relaxed ‘1950s’ heritage style.
Both modern and vintage machinery are employed during the manufacturing process to attain an authentic finish.
There is great attention paid to detail, with over 16 different processes involved in the making of each pair of jeans.
The finished jeans are presented in a hand-stamped potato sack, bearing the factory silhouette. This shape is also used on the traditional leather patch and on the back pocket stitch detail.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers jeans are available in our Redchurch Street shop from June 2016 and will find their way into our Dover Street Market London space from mid-July.
Photos by David Rowswell
Spring is here again, at least some of the time! Longer, lighter days inspire us to shake off the dust, blow away the cobwebs, and reach for the broom and the floor cloth…
In celebration of Spring cleaning we joined forces with Vitsœ to envision The Modern Scullery. This could be a room all to itself or just a couple of shelves beside the back door. The classic Vitsœ 606 Universal Shelving System provides the structure; Labour and Wait household essentials are the content. The fusion of our ideas with those of Vitsœ resulted in a floor-to-ceiling installation at our Redchurch Street shop, which visitors have been admiring since it went up in March.
Creating the display brought pleasant surprises. A harmony between the Vitsœ shelving and our products meant that brushes and dustpans somehow arranged themselves. A line-up of feather dusters never looked so good. Like our sturdy housekeeper’s bucket, the 606 system promises a lifetime of use.
Talking to the Vitsœ team, we found we had ideals in common. Like them, we admire discreet and durable design based on common-sense principles. The collaboration has been a highly rewarding one for Labour and Wait. Thank you, Vitsœ.
Simultaneous displays at our Redchurch Street shop and at the Vitsœ West End showroom have perhaps inspired visitors to attack their spring cleaning with fresh energy!
Photos by David Rowswell
The colour of the earth. A rich, dark, peat brown, evoking leather, wood and even chocolate. We always find ourselves drawn to this colour; its depth has a graphic quality like black, but with a warmer, more natural feel. We even fantasise about opening a shop where all the products are brown!