02 August, 2019

Bermondsey Pop-Up Space

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.

Lassco, Ropewalk
37 Maltby Street,
London, SE1 3PA

9.00am – 5.00pm
10.00am – 5.00pm
11.00am – 5.00pm

020 7394 8061

  • See more: 2019, Lassco

  • 27 June, 2019

    Dover Street Market: Tachiagari

    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.

    These specials are available on Friday 12th July exclusively in Dover Street Market London and New York (pinafore only available in London).

  • See more: 2019, Dover Street Market

  • 26 June, 2019

    2020 Calendar: Shop Talk

    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':


  • See more: 2019, Calendar, Shop Talk

  • 11 June, 2019

    Recycled Travel Cup

    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.

    This cup is available to purchase from our shop at 85 Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, our Workroom in Bethnal Green and our Dover Street Market space in Haymarket, London. Here's to a good, responsible brew!!

  • See more: 2019, Eco-Friendly

  • 10 June, 2019

    Covered: Public Provisions

    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

    Public Provisions

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 03 June, 2019

    Covered: Neuton Hair Salon

    Neuton Hair Salon opened its doors in Newington Green, North London, in 2016. The business was started by Dani, originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, whose ambition was to open a place to call her own.
    Newington Green was first known as 'Neutone', from its record in the Domesday survey of 1086. This is from where Neuton takes its name. Later, in the 17th century, Samuel Pepys wandered the area to benefit from the fresh air. It was not recorded as to whether he was also looking for a haircut.
    Neuton use our bib aprons, which, as is evident, are especially useful when colouring hair: "We love everything about our aprons and have been using them since Neuton opened 3 years ago. We really love the fact that the older they get the better they look! We love that craft look and wear them pretty much every day. They look just great!"
    Neuton Hair Salon
    117 Newington Green Road
    London, N1 4QY
    Instagram: @neutonhair

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 27 May, 2019

    Covered: Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

    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!"

    Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
    159 Hoxton Street,
    London, N1 6PJ
    Instagram: @monstersupplies

    All photographs by David Rowswell

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 20 May, 2019

    Covered: Melody Park, Artist

    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."

    Follow Melody Park on Instagram: @melodypark_

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 16 May, 2019

    Photo London: 2019

    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.

    Dover Street Market London
    18-22 Haymarket,
    London SW1Y 4DG

    Mon – Sat: 11:00am – 7:00pm
    Sun: 12:00pm – 6:00pm

    See more of Andrew's work on his website:

  • See more: 2019, Calendar, Dover Street Market, Photo London

  • 13 May, 2019

    Covered: The Wild Fork

    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

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 29 April, 2019

    Covered: Darcy's Kaffe, Copenhagen

    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

    Darcy's Kaffe
    Blågårdsgade 49
    2200 København

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 05 April, 2019

    Covered: Lifeboat Station Project

    From an early age, Jack Lowe had an interest in photography. He was given a Kodak Instamatic camera at the age of 8 by his grandmother, which developed his passion into a career in photography. Jack's other passions are lifeboats and the sea, but how to combine all three? This is how the Lifeboat Station Project was born.
    Working from a decommissioned ambulance, recommissioned as a mobile darkroom, Jack set out to photograph all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations and the volunteers, using Victorian glass plate equipment. He is currently just over half way through the project.
    But how did Jack come to wear a Labour and Wait bib apron?

    "I first became aware of the Labour and Wait bib apron back in 2014. I popped in to visit a friend who runs an independent coffee company.

    He stopped work for a moment to say hello. While we chatted, I realised he was wearing a splendid looking apron. It looked perfect for my needs, just the thing I’d been looking for to protect me from the rigours of working with such an old photographic process as wet plate collodion. It had a lovely traditional feel too, that would suit my work down to the ground.

    I asked him about it.

    “You haven’t heard of Labour and Wait?” he said.

    It was true, I hadn’t, but I got onto the website and ordered one straight away. A few years down the line, who’d have thought that it would become such a ‘famous’ item in its own right, even ending up as a museum exhibit!
    I’m wearing the apron in just about every photograph of me working on the The Lifeboat Station Project. My followers love the #LSPthrowdown hashtag on Instagram, which I use at the end of my photographic missions.

    I find a good spot to lay the apron down for a photograph, perhaps on a lifeboat deck or slipway to signify the end of another great few weeks on the coast.

    Over time, it’s become really splashed and stained with silver nitrate, culminating in this final ’throwdown’ at the halfway point in Dover after four years’ work (above).

    Now Labour and Wait have kindly donated a new apron to the project for the second half. I wonder which one will end up being the dirtier of the two…!"

    Jack is currently exhibiting his work at Poole Museum until 22nd April, 2019, where you'll also find his original bib apron proudly displayed.

    Follow Jack and the project on instagram: @lordlowe

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 02 April, 2019

    Covered: General Store, Peckham

    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

    General Store
    172 Bellenden Road,
    Peckham, SE15 1BW 

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 18 March, 2019

    Covered: Monmouth Coffee Company

    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,
    Covent Garden,
    London, WC2H 9EU

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 15 March, 2019

    Covered: Canvas Aprons

    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

  • See more: 2019, Covered

  • 13 February, 2019

    London Fashion Week

    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.

  • See more: 2019, Dover Street Market

  • 15 January, 2019

    Blanket Coverage

    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:


    “That oil can has been in constant use for the past 32 years to my knowledge. It is probably fifty years old but still functions perfectly well, keeping all the machinery well oiled and running smoothly.”

    When he took over the mill, Mike inherited two 120" Dobcross looms, a super cop winder, holt cone winder and a new warping creel, which allows the mill to produce the iconic Welsh ‘Tapestry’ bedcovers.


    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.”


    So how much work is involved in weaving a blanket? 
    “Setting up the creel and warping takes the best part of a week. When I have the warp in the loom, I must tie each of the 2,552 threads to the corresponding previous warp threads. I spent all day yesterday winding cops for the shuttles. Each king size tapestry takes three hours to weave, double takes two and a half hours and a single about two hours.
    “And just to keep me on my toes, I had a critical component on the loom break last week. Spares are not available so with the assistance of the local blacksmith I had to make and fit a replacement.”


    “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.

    15 January, 2019

    Dover Street Market London

    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.

  • See more: 2019, Dover Street Market

  • 18 December, 2018

    Last Orders Please!

    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!

  • See more: 2018

  • 01 December, 2018

    East and West: The Slipper

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 27 November, 2018

    Black Friday Crisis Response

    We're very pleased to say that, thanks to our customers' response to the CRISIS AT CHRISTMAS Black Friday alternative, we will be donating £800 this winter, to help homeless people throughout the United Kingdom.

  • See more: 2018, Black Friday

  • 23 November, 2018

    Black Friday

    On Friday the 23rd of November, instead of discounts and special offers, LABOUR AND WAIT will donate 10% of shop and online sales to CRISIS AT CHRISTMAS, in an effort to help homeless people throughout the United Kingdom this winter.

  • See more: 2018, Black Friday

  • 08 November, 2018

    As seen on TV

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Visa Christmas Advert

  • 01 November, 2018

    East and West: The Saucepan

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 15 October, 2018

    Fisherman's Smock

    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.

  • See more: 2018

  • 01 October, 2018

    East and West: The Ladle

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 11 September, 2018

    Brown Betty: A Sympathetic Re-engineering

    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.

  • See more: 2018, London Design Festival, The Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot

  • 09 September, 2018

    Brown Betty: Characteristic clay

    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.

  • See more: 2018, London Design Festival, The Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot

  • 06 September, 2018

    Brown Betty: Anonymous and evolved

    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.

  • See more: 2018, London Design Festival, The Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot

  • 02 September, 2018

    Brown Betty: An everyday archetype

    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.

  • See more: 2018, London Design Festival, The Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot

  • 01 September, 2018

    East and West: The Jug

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 30 August, 2018

    London Design Festival 2018

    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

  • See more: 2018, London Design Festival, The Re-engineered Brown Betty Teapot

  • 01 August, 2018

    East and West: The Whisk

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 July, 2018

    East and West: The Lunchbox

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 June, 2018

    East and West: The Teacup

    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!

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 May, 2018

    East and West: The Paintbrush

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 April, 2018

    East and West: The Scourer

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 March, 2018

    East and West: The Tea Caddy

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 28 February, 2018

    The E2 Jean

    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.

  • See more: 2018

  • 01 February, 2018

    East and West: The Saw

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 January, 2018

    East and West: The Teapot

    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.

  • See more: 2018, Calendar, East and West

  • 31 December, 2017

    East and West Calendar

    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.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, East and West

  • 01 December, 2017

    Object Lessons: String

    How long is a piece of string? An essential item, no home can function without at least one ball of string. There is an abundance of different types of string for numerous domestic chores and we love them all! A beautifully wound ball or spool is a sight to behold and who can resist brown paper packages tied up with string?

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 November, 2017

    Object Lessons: Buckets

    How can we extol the virtues of the lowly bucket? This basic vessel is found in every culture and is indispensible. The bucket is a perfect form, which has evolved over the centuries and cannot be improved. Early buckets were made from wood or leather. So long as it remains watertight a bucket is the go-to object in many an emergency. We speak from experience!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 October, 2017

    Object Lessons: Studio Pottery

    We have always admired the tactile qualities of handmade ceramics despite their ‘socks and sandals’ associations! Today there is a renewed interest in all crafts and pottery is therefore enjoying a revival. The combination of earth, fire and natural minerals can produce objects of great beauty, and display evidence of the maker’s hand.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 September, 2017

    Object Lessons: Pencils

    Who can forget going back to school armed with a new set of freshly sharpened pencils? Today surrounded by technology there is still something reassuring about a simple pencil. Even the process of sharpening a pencil and the smell of the wood shavings can be a joy. Pencils come in many guises; it seems there is a pencil available for every task!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 August, 2017

    Objects Lessons: Buttons

    Utilitarian buttons are an ongoing fascination. Military and workwear buttons are resolutely fit for purpose. Vintage button cards catch our attention with buttons in serried ranks, all ship shape and Bristol fashion. Material, colour and proportion are key to our appreciation. Running your hand through a box of buttons is soothing, but not if you suffer from koumpounophobia!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 July, 2017

    Object Lessons: Labels

    Paper products have always appealed to us, and labels are emblematic of this. The humble brown luggage tag has been used to label our products in the shop from day one. Bold graphic postal labels and stickers with their direct informative statements are particularly pleasing. Traditional gummed labels with handwritten inscriptions remind us of dusty museum cabinets full of catalogued artifacts.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 June, 2017

    Object Lessons: Teapots

    A teapot is somehow comforting, reassuring and always a welcome sight. They come in a surprising variety of forms, each seeming to possess its own personality. The basic teapot form is unmistakable: spout, handle and lid, and has remained thus for 300 years or so. A ‘good pourer’ is essential; a dripping teapot is a no - no! At LABOUR AND WAIT it’s always time for tea.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 May, 2017

    Object Lessons: Handkerchiefs

    This simple square of cloth is imbued with many strong associations, from catching a sneeze to surrendering a battle. Classic spotted handkerchiefs are often featured in traditional gentlemen’s outfitters, but equally they are redolent of Dick Whittington’s bindle. Morris dancers may be seen waving handkerchiefs, not to mention the British affectation of knotting a hanky on your head at the seaside!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 20 April, 2017

    Enamel Lampshades


     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.


  • See more: 2017, Enamelware

  • 01 April, 2017

    Object Lessons: Brushes

    These have been an obsession for many years! We even have a Brush Museum on display in our shop. There seems to have been a brush developed somewhere at sometime for every cleaning opportunity. Often considered a rather humble ‘everyday’ object they display a great degree of craftsmanship. We are always fascinated by the skill of the brush maker.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 29 March, 2017

    Spitalfields Life Bookshop

    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

  • See more: 2017, The Gentle Author

  • 01 March, 2017

    Object Lessons: Packaging

    In our view packaging can make or break a product. We often remove packaging from our stock, but we leave it in place if we feel it enhances the object. We are drawn to simple graphic treatments. In many cases this is packaging that has remained unchanged over the years. Well-designed packaging is often hard to throw away!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 02 February, 2017

    Labour and Wait Tokyo


    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,
    Tokyo, Japan
    Opening hours: 12pm - 8pm
    Tel: 03-6804-6448

  • See more: 2017, Labour and Wait Tokyo

  • 01 February, 2017

    Object Lessons: Jugs

    A jug is a very handsome object, its function is proudly displayed. Who would think such a simple combination of a lip and handle could produce so many variations. This iconic object appeals to artists and often features in still life artworks. And after all what would a calendar be without jugs!

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 01 January, 2017

    Object Lessons: Tools

    The contents of a toolbox are always intriguing. The distinctive smell conjures up memories of sheds and workshops. A well-loved tool develops a character all of its own, the worn handle taking on the imprint of its owner’s hand. We have come across many curious tools during our travels. We find ourselves attracted by their shape even when we have no idea of their purpose.

  • See more: 2017, Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 27 December, 2016

    Object Lessons Calendar

    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.

  • See more: Calendar, Object Lessons

  • 08 June, 2016

    Blackhorse Lane Ateliers


    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

  • See more: 2016

  • 01 April, 2016

    The Modern Scullery

    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

  • See more: 2016, The Modern Scullery, Vitsoe

  • 03 March, 2016

    The Modern Scullery

    01 December, 2015


    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!

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 01 November, 2015


    An esoteric choice, this is not really one colour at all, but rather a mélange of blacks, greys and natural tones. We appreciate this colour in many materials: stone, flannel and asphalt, to name but three. It brings to mind the grey felt sculptures of Joseph Beuys, whose work we have long admired.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 11 October, 2015

    15 Years: Sussex Trug

    There is something immensely satisfying about the classic Sussex trug. It is still hand-made from coppiced willow and chestnut in Sussex - a county with which we feel a strong affinity. The trug is a staple feature of many great English gardens. An object of simple beauty, a genuine Sussex trug will only mellow and improve with age.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 04 October, 2015

    15 Years: Vintage Linen

    The quality of old linen is hard to beat. We always have a selection of vintage tea towels in stock. Most are sourced from France, though we have also found beautiful examples from Hungary. Many display the finely embroidered initials of their original owner, to help identify them during laundering. These tea towels will become softer and more absorbent with use.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 01 October, 2015


    Drab in name but not by nature! We like the functional aspects of this organic colour, which makes us think of army kit and outdoor clothing. It is a difficult shade to define, ranging from greeny brown, to browny green. We also enjoy its association with the clays and glazes used by studio potters.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 27 September, 2015

    15 Years: Breton Shirt

    The perennial striped shirt. This garment was traditionally worn by French sailors and was later adopted by the creative cognoscenti. It almost became a uniform for artists and bohemian types. We love its timeless quality and unisex appeal. It seems to suit everyone and has thus become a wardrobe staple.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 20 September, 2015

    15 Years: Marseille Soap

    Made from olive oil, this mild, totally naturally soap has all the credentials of a classic Labour and Wait product. It is pure, economical and astonishingly versatile. You can use it to wash your home, your laundry, yourself - and even your pets! The city of Marseille has an association with making soap which dates back to the 17th century.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 13 September, 2015

    15 Years: Enamel Milk Pot

    This now iconic milk pot caused something of a storm when it was given a full page in a Sunday supplement. We were taken off guard when the readers took it to their hearts as we had done. A deluge of enquiries resulted in a waiting list of almost 200 customers! The milk pot is now available in exclusive colours and remains a favourite.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 06 September, 2015

    15 Years: Rope Doorstop

    This rope doorstop is hand-made by Des Pawson MBE, a leading authority on rope and knot work. It takes the form of a giant Monkey's Fist knot. Hidden inside are two half-spheres of solid lead. Weighing in at over three kilos, this doorstop has often caught the eye of overseas visitors, but usually common sense prevails!

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 01 September, 2015


    imageA colour associated with straw, wood, dried grasses and wicker. It also evokes brown paper and cardboard. Its neutrality makes it a good background for typography. It is entirely at home in the world of craft items, and is a signature colour at LABOUR AND WAIT.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 30 August, 2015

    15 Years: Brush and Bucket

    We couldn't find a decent loo-brush set, so we created our own. We knew that it would have to feature a wood brush, but what to store it in? We really like galvanized steel, so what better than a florist's bucket? This combination has proved very popular, and indeed has spawned imitations - but ours is the true original!

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 23 August, 2015

    15 Years: Canvas Apron

    Our canvas aprons have become a Labour and Wait classic. We made the prototypes ourselves, as our staff uniform. Soon customers were wanting to buy them, so we found a factory in the UK and started production. From these humble beginnings, we now supply the classic brown apron to restaurants, coffee shops and bars worldwide. Hundreds more have been sold to individuals via our shop and website.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 16 August, 2015

    15 Years: School Tumbler

    This simple glass tumbler takes us right back to school dinners. These glasses have 'mystery' numbers embossed on the base, providing lunchtime entertainment. Although we associate these tumblers with our childhood, they are the perfect size for a decent glass of wine at the end of a long day. Their pleasing, rounded shape and simple, functional design make them a joy to hold.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 09 August, 2015

    15 Years: Giant Dustpan

    We bought one of these dustpans in America and, once we used it, became even more convinced of its great design and practicality. It has been produced for many years and is widely used in the building and carpentry trade in the USA. On more than one occasion, customers have come back to buy a replacement after the builders had appropriated the first one!

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 02 August, 2015

    15 Years: Welsh Blanket

    These blankets evoke fond memories of holidays in Wales and of mill shops selling items made from traditional tapestry fabric. These could be anything from complete outfits including bags and hats, to coasters and placemats (well, this was the 1970s!) We have collected and sold hundreds of vintage blankets. Today, we work with one of the few remaining Welsh mills, who continue to weave this fabric.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 01 August, 2015


    imageCrisp white cotton, cool white linen and soft white chalk – they all confirm our passion for this colour. We like its severe, clinical connotations, though softer bleached or faded whites are no less pleasing. After all, what is more satisfying than a fresh sheet of white paper?

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 26 July, 2015

    15 Years: Paper Glue

    A good pot of paper glue! We remember this product from our childhood. It has a distinctive almond aroma, redolent of primary school art classes. Customers always respond to this product. One lady memorably told us that she used to eat it as  a child! This, however, we would not recommend...

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 19 July, 2015

    15 Years: Fisherman's Smock

    This classic item of workwear has been an essential outer layer for British fisherman for over a century. The practical, utilitarian nature of the smock makes it popular with painters, sculptors and craftsmen. Most staff at Labour and Wait seem to own one! Our smocks come from Norfolk, where they have been produced since 1898.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 12 July, 2015

    15 Years: Brown Betty

    As ardent tea drinkers, we believe that a good teapot is indispensable! This classic teapot is still made in Stoke-on-Trent, as it has been for generations. We specify a clear glaze, to allow the colour of the local brown clay to shine through, as this gives the Brown Betty its name. Successive generations have sworn that these teapots make the best pot of tea in the world.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 05 July, 2015

    15 Years: Corn Broom

    This was the first broom on our wish list when we opened our original shop. Its humble design and good looks appeal to us. This type of broom originated with the Shakers in 19th century America. It is practical and hard-wearing - and of course it features in Tom and Jerry cartoons!

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 04 July, 2015

    15 Years: 15 Products

    We have selected fifteen products which embody the Labour and Wait ethos, which we will feature here each week for 15 weeks. These items have been present in our offer since the very beginning.

    We believe that they are as essential today as they were back then; timeless products that are forever useful.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 03 July, 2015

    15 Years: Anniversary Party

    We celebrated our fifteenth anniversary in style on Thursday 2nd of July.

    Getting the final touches on our window display sorted.

    Looking good from the outside...

    Staff preparing the playlist for the evening. Those Swedish bucket bags make perfect vinyl carrying vessels!

    The booklets produced showing our inspirations, philosophy and products, since 2000.

    A thoroughly engaging read; Alfred here, our supplier of handmade wooden bath racks, only wishes he'd been supplying us earlier so he could've featured!

    Food and drink flowing. Simon at the back pointing out something on the pegboard that has gone wonky.

    Rachel and Simon receive a cake for all their hardwork over the last 15 years. Happy Anniversary Labour and Wait!

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 02 July, 2015

    15 Years: Our Branding

    From the outset, there was only one typeface in our minds for Labour and Wait: Gill Sans.

    These classic letterforms were designed by Eric Gill and first appeared around 1928. For us, Gill Sans perfectly embodies a graphic simplicity; clear, informative and timeless. Naturally, our choice was influenced by the iconic covers of the first Penguin books.

    Gill Sans was also widely used for industrial supply catalogues from the 1930s through to the 1950s, which we enjoy collecting. In addition, we appreciate traditional stationery such as rubber stamps, embossed cards and school exercise books. We like to reference all this material in our branding.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 01 July, 2015


    imageA strangely synthetic shade of blue. Applied to many functional everyday products and frequently found in toolboxes. Rawlplugs, electrical wiring, and screwdriver handles often come in this striking shade. Plastics and other man-made materials give the colour a special vibrancy.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 01 July, 2015

    15 Years: Our Sources

    Our goods come from many different sources. We endeavour to search out specialist makers who in many cases manufacture products to the original deigns, using traditional methods.

    Our suppliers range from highly skilled individual craftspeople - like rope work Des Pawson or Sussex trig maker Robin Tuppen - to small family-run workshops such as R. Russell, brush makers. We also work with larger factories like Riess Kelomat in Austria, but this again is a family business. More recently, we have begun collaborating with our makers to develop products which are exclusive to Labour and Wait. It is a real pleasure and privilege to work with these companies and hopefully to ensure the continuity of traditional industries.

    We stock vintage items too, always carefully selected. Again, these are objects which have a timeless quality, but all must be fit for use, not just for display. We keep a constant lookout for favourites like stoneware marmalade jars or Lovatts coffee pots, which sadly are no longer made.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015, Eco-Friendly

  • 30 June, 2015

    15 Years: The Gentle Author Foreword

    "Fifteen years ago, I made the pilgrimage to Labour and Wait - seeking out the first shop in Cheshire Street on a busy market Sunday - and since then, barely a month has gone without a return visit, to admire the magnificent displays of hardware.

    It always raises a smile to wonder at the heroic arrangements of everyday objects, but I realise now that it has been an education too - Labour and Wait has taught me an appreciation of both the poetry and the humour of these modest household goods.

    If, like me, you seek perfection in small things - shiny kettles, enamel pots and pans, galvanised buckets and watering cans, proper bristly brushes and balls of string - Labour and Wait will never disappoint you."

    The Gentle Author, Spitalfields

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015, The Gentle Author

  • 30 June, 2015

    15 Years of Labour and Wait

    Labour and Wait is 15 years old today.

    Our aim from the start has been to offer a selection of simple, functional products for daily lie, which not only 'do the job' but look great as well. It had become increasingly difficult to find good-quality 'undesigned' articles, which by their very nature do not date. In fact, we believe such objects actually improve with age as they develop a patina through use.

    This philosophy, which has always guided our choice of household products, applies no less in other categories. Classic practical clothing, for example, has been part of Labour and Wait since we began - from striped Breton shirts to genuine Guernsey sweaters.

    We aim to source or create products which have a universal appeal and are not bounded by age or gender. In our fifteenth anniversary year, our original concept and beliefs remain unchanged.

  • See more: 15 Years of Labour and Wait, 2015

  • 01 June, 2015


    imageA bold and cheerful orange. This colour works well in typographical elements and paper products, but also when used for shiny enameled surfaces. A striking highlight, evoking building paraphernalia and warning signs. And for us a Penguin will always be, not black and white, but orange!

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 01 May, 2015


    imageThis rich dark blue is a true classic, originating from naval uniforms. It is often contrasted with white or ecru. The classic striped Breton T-Shirt has become a LABOUR AND WAIT favourite. Textiles take this colour particularly well. It is also effective when used for typography, instead of the more obvious black.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 01 April, 2015


    imageAn optimistic colour which heralds the start of spring, promising a wealth of things natural; the yellows of beeswax, mustard seeds and egg yolk. But not for us! Instead, this colour makes us think of rubber gloves, dusters and protective oilskin clothing.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 01 March, 2015


    imageThis shade of green reflects our appreciation of an industrial aesthetic. Whenever we visit factories, we notice this particular colour all around us. It seems that much industrial machinery of the past as painted in this shade of green. This is not a natural colour but rather a mechanical one.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 24 February, 2015


  • See more: 2015

  • 01 February, 2015


    A true red which demands attention. Historically a colour of passion and power, red also has strong associations with danger. For us, it is a very British colour, redolent of London buses, telephone boxes of old and regimental uniforms. It also lends itself to utilitarian products and tools.

  • See more: 2015, Calendar, Colour Connections

  • 01 January, 2015


    Deep and dark, black gives objects a sculptural quality, as it defines their shape. We often choose black products for LABOUR AND WAIT; the density of the colour can create a dramatic effect. The bold, graphic combination of black with white always has impact.

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  • 31 December, 2014



    Now that our 2015 Calendar is sold out, we will be sharing each monthly image on our blog throughout the year.

    Our calendar this year takes the form of an imaginary chart showing twelve of our favourite colours. We find that we are naturally drawn to certain shades, often those which resonate by reminding us of some particular object. These colours reoccur in many of the products which we select for the shop. We have an aversion to all things ‘pretty’, preferring solid, durable tones. We asked ourselves: ‘What would a LABOUR AND WAIT colour chart look like? What would we name the colours…?’

    Until then, here are some behind the scenes images taken during our shoot.


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  • 01 December, 2014

    Material Matters: Wool

    Warm, comfortable and protective, wool is the cosiest material of them all. We particularly like natural, undid shades and their many variations, which result from the breed and location of the sheep. We are ardent admirers of artist Joseph Beuys. You may detect a nod towards his work in our 'felty' still life.

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  • 01 November, 2014

    Material Matters: Cardboard

    At LABOUR AND WAIT, we seem to spend our days in a sea of cardboard. Shipments arriving, orders leaving and a great deal of unpacking in between. Here is a material that really deserves its place in our calendar. Our mail-order team in particular have grown to love cardboard and its infinite possibilities.

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  • 01 October, 2014

    Material Matters: Iron

    The sheer weight and robustness of iron demands particular respect. Iron has a 'no-nonsense' sensibility. From heavy machinery to small kitchen items, this material is more versatile than one might suppose. We love its sculptural qualities: in the right hands, iron can take on surprisingly sophisticated forms.

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  • 10 September, 2014

    The Bench at 85 Redchurch Street


    We put our bench outside each morning and wonder who might happen by, looking for a sit-down. It could be tourists or locals, couples or families, dog-walkers, picnickers or simply Shoreditch flâneurs. On a Sunday, it could be shoppers from Columbia Road who need to rest their jasmines or their cheese plants.




    Bench-users from far-away places are a particular joy. (Thanks again, Rita and Reesi from Estonia and Harry and Jiwoon from South Korea, for letting us take your picture!)





    Now that misty mornings are back, we’re thinking about folding it away for another year. It’s all rather sad – like seeing the swallows heading south. We hope you’ll be flying back again next spring, looking for a place to perch.


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