01 December, 2012
A proper kettle. Perfect profile, rich chocolate brown and a great pourer to boot! What more do you need to warm up a winter's night?

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 30 November, 2012

    Christmas is traditionally the time we find lots of new gift ideas, and this year is no exception. So let us introduce our Christmas 2012 line-up:


    To start with, some toys, and a couple of old classics; the Gyroscope and the Kazoo


    To go with our best-selling Pinhole Camera Kit and Radio Receiver Kit, we now have a Morse Code Kit. Ideal for technically-minded and inquisitive kids of all ages.


    And for the young entomologists and ornithologists, we have a Bug Identification Kit and a Birdwatching Kit.


    For the older outdoors enthusiasts we have a Survival Tin, which includes a compass, fishing kit, sewing kit and mini knife, while the stainless steel Mini Multi Tool can be used as a screwdriver, wrench, ruler, bottle opener, can opener, wire stripper, wood saw and knife.


    The Survival Tin includes an emergency whistle, but we thought we’d supplement this with the classic Acme Thunderer. And while you wait for your rescue, why not make a nice brew with the Storm Kettle? A favourite with outdoor enthusiasts worldwide, this formidable device will boil water in even the foulest weather. 


    To complete the backwoodsman’s kit we have the world famous, windproof and almost indestructible Zippo Lighter, and a Pocket Sharpening Stone - perfect for our Opinel or British Army Knives.


    The Maglite Flashlight is a design classic, with heavyweight machining and a lifetime guarantee, and its little brother the Maglite Mini comes in a handy hard case.


    We welcome the return of a couple of old Christmas favourites, the Kid’s Dustpan and Brush Set ( start them early ), and the German Nutcracker.


    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without games, and we think a set of Playing Cards ( and a game of Newmarket ) is a great way to spend an evening. We also welcome the return of our page-a-day Pocket Diary.


    Many of us here are keen cyclists, and we think this Dutch Puncture Repair Kit is a great little set, while the handy Mini Mess Tin can be used indoors or outdoors, in the studio, kitchen or office.


    Th perfect vessel for our Italian Shaving Soap, we have found a beautiful Shaving Mug, and for a touch of luxury we have the famous ‘Major' Travel Shaving Brush.


    We know many of customers are dog owners, so we have put together a great range, including this rope Dog Lead, made by the master rope makers at the Chatham Dockyards, and this professional Dog Whistle.


    We love this traditional heavyweight ceramic Dog Bowl, and the perfect accessory for all pet owners must be our best-selling Rubber Grooming Brush.


    And for the person stuck in the kitchen on Christmas Day? Why not treat them to an Enamel Stewpot or an Enamel Casserole - made in Austria by Riess these versatile pots can be used on the hob and in the oven, and are perfect for turkey stew on Boxing Day ( and the day after, and the day after that… )

    All of our Christmas products are available in store, or on our website. 

  • See more: 2012, christmas

  • 28 November, 2012

    Our 2013 Calendar is now in stock online and in our Redchurch Street store.

    This year’s theme is ‘Tools of the Trade’. Each month features a still life composition of the tools used by the craftsmen and women who make some of our most popular products. There is a limited stock of these calendars, so make sure to order yours in time!

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Tools of the Trade

  • 23 November, 2012

    Well done to all involved with the launch this week of the East End Trades Guild - see how many of your favourite shopkeepers you can spot here ( click to embiggen ).

    Read more about the launch courtesy of the Gentle Author here.

  • See more: 2012, East End Trades Guild, The Gentle Author

  • 20 November, 2012

    We are shamelessly using last year’s pictures ( in a different order ) to say that our Irish Cottage socks are back in stock. The perfect treat for winter feet.

    Available in our Redchurch Street store now.        

  • See more: 2012

  • 18 November, 2012

    We see that Truman’s have announced the site of their new brewery. 

    As reported by the blog with its ear to the ground and a correspondent on every street corner, the new home of the Truman Brewery will be in Hackney Wick, and should be brewing by early next year.

    Labour and Wait’s home is an old Truman Brewery public house, and shares its distinctive green tiles with many of the old Truman pubs, some still in use, some converted to homes, some now shops and others derelict and forgotten. But the Truman name can be seen all over the East End, and the name is now synonymous with the old brewery on Brick Lane, long one of the cooler hang outs of this part of town.

    A before-and-after of Brick Lane and the Old Truman Brewery.

    When we held our party to celebrate the opening of our new store, we served a couple of barrels of Truman Runner, so it’s great to see the opening of the new brewery and the appearance of more and more pubs selling Truman Beers - one hundred and fifty at the last count.

    One of our barrels of Truman Runner in place.

    Michael-George of Truman, who has overseen the rebirth of the East End brewery.

    Taking advantage of the last few drops…

    So we wish the best of luck to Truman’s and hope that by next year we’ll be enjoying another Hackney-brewed beer.

  • See more: 2012

  • 18 November, 2012

    We’re very pleased to be one of the founding members of the East End Trades Guild.

    The East End Trades Guild logo, designed by James Brown.

    We’ve been in this part of London for over 12 years now, and although not as long as some traders, we feel like one of the old guard. And we love to see all the new independent shops and businesses opening up around here, run by people who have recognised this area as the best place to start their small business, safe in the knowledge that customers are discerning and enthusiastic, and prepared to put their money into the hands ( and tills ) of the ‘small guy’.

    Paul Gardner, local trader and inspiration behind the EETG.

    Yet we’ve also seen the steady upwards creep - and often the rapid upwards shoot - of rents, as the success of the area has brought its own problems. In what we must call the 'Covent Garden Effect’, a somewhat shabby, tired market area is reinvigorated by exciting independent businesses before being 'discovered’, publicised and gentrified, before finally the big brands arrive, rents rise, and the original traders are moved on.

    Topman 'General Store’ on Commercial Street. 

    Lest this sound like snobbery about the 'wrong type’ of shop moving into the area, let us look at the reasoning behind the EETG; to protect the commercial interests of small independent traders, often exploited by landlords, agents, big business and government, despite being the best businesses for a local area. For local businesses reinvigorate local areas, where big traders anonymise an area and suck the money out - take for example a quote from the manager of a local chain store, dressed as a cool independent store - 

    “My favourite place to eat would have to be either Wagamama’s or Nandos a few doors down… or Pret, I could go on forever.”

    As small businesses we don’t have the financial backing of the chains, so as rents inevitably rise, we are competing with operations with deep pockets and little regard for anything other than the bottom line. Without the work of groups like the EETG, what is feared may become unstoppable, and then how long before Leila’s becomes a Nero, or Cafeand a Starbucks? Or if Pellici’s were forced out and replaced by a Pret a Manger? What then will happen to Shoreditch and the East End?

    So let’s all wish the East End Trades Guild the best of luck as it launches this week, and lets hope it can inspire traders in other areas, towns and cities to unite, to work together to support the local economy. As their logo says - Together We Are Stronger.

    As part of the EETG project, all the members are being photographed - our thanks to Patricia Niven for this great picture.

    The East End Trades Guild will officially launch on Monday 19th November at Christ Church Spitalfields.

  • See more: 2012, East End Trades Guild

  • 01 November, 2012
    A little grey jug, which seems more like a sketch than the real thing. Seen from this angle the dynamic handle appears to diminish impossibly at its junction with the body.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 14 October, 2012

    Our thanks to Liz King, who has sent us some of her wonderful illustrations. 


    Unfortunately our scanner hasn’t quite done justice to her delicate colouring, but these illustrations look great nonetheless. You can see more of Liz’s work here, or check out her blog here

  • See more: 2012

  • 10 October, 2012

    And so to Spitalfields Life, where the Gentle Author continues the quest to capture all of East End life in one compendious website, the modern Human Comedy in all its varied and various colours, shades, sounds and shapes. 

    Last weekend the Gentle Author joined local man of letters Clive Murphy for a tour around his Brick Lane flat. Visitors to our Redchurch Street shop will recognise Clive as the author of such works as “The Good Deeds of A Good Woman”, “Four Acres and a Donkey” and “Oiky, The Memoirs of a Pig Man”. A Gentle Author himself, Clive took to recording the stories of those people he saw around him in 1970s Brick Lane, capturing a demotic human history in the way that many of today’s writers, bloggers and tweeters will recognise. 

    We are glad to see Clive’s books attracting attention today, not least because it allows the author to pursue his interest in writing his Ribald Rhymes - not for the faint-hearted, although an ideal present for a favoured in-law. 

    Our thanks go as always to the Gentle Author for this story and for use of the photographs.

  • See more: 2012, Clive Murphy, The Gentle Author

  • 01 October, 2012
    This curious enamel coffee maker could only have been made in England! Its strangely baroque handle seems completely at odds with its otherwise pared down appearance. This anomaly, however, is what makes it so compelling.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 30 September, 2012

    Well its that time of year. The summer clothes are being packed away and we search out our woolens as the evenings close in. We hold out hope that we may yet see one of our much-beloved Indian summers, but we are well prepared for the onset of autumn; and so we have now got a shop full of slippers, blankets, wooly socks and jumpers. And we are also pleased to see the return of the Pea Coat, one of our favourite winter staples.

    The Schott Pea Coat is, we believe, the finest quality example of this classic style. A true design original, this heavyweight jacket is one of the many reasons to welcome the arrival of colder weather. 

    Originating, as many menswear staples do, from the needs of military service, the Pea Coat was standard issue for British and American navies before being de-mobbed into civilian service. The heavyweight 32 oz Melton Wool is the original windcheater, being thick, warm and durable; the wool is mixed with 25% nylon and other threads which are interlocked and pressed together before being cut, to ensure maximum protection against the elements, whether you are battling your way against the high seas or up the high street.

    The classic Pea Coat derives from the Royal Navy Reefer Jacket, originally intended for ‘reefers’ ( Midshipmen ) on board sailing ships, whose job was to climb the rigging and unfurl, or 'reef’, the ship’s sails. The jacket was short, to allow ease of movement through the rigging, while the double-breasted front, which displaced the buttons to each side, helped to reduce the chance of them getting caught on ropes as the wearer maneuvered the sails. 

    The classic Pea Coat has ten buttons; four pairs in the double breasted style, plus two at the collar. This allows the coat to be buttoned fully to the neck which, with the wide, heavy collar, ensures complete wind and weather resistance.


    Richard Crenna exhibiting classic Pea Coat style in 'Wait Until Dark’ 

    So why 'Pea Coat’? As ever with these stories, there are different explanations as to how this name was arrived at. The classic version is that these are 'P’ coats, as worn by the ship’s Pilot, although an older story has the name coming from the Dutch Pijjeker, where Pij is the coarse, heavy wool from which the jacket was made; this material itself became known as Pilot Cloth or P Cloth, hence the P Coat.

    The longer, thigh length version is known as the Bridge Coat.

    This year we are also offering this style in children’s sizes. As all well-dressed ladies know, the men’s cuts are often superior to the female and the Pea Coat is no exception. The female version has a shaped waist which offers a more feminine profile, but which also lacks the silhouette of the original style, so losing that classic look. The children’s Schott jackets offer the classic Pea Coat style even in smaller sizes.

    Serge Gainsbourg showing how to wear a Pea Coat

    Heavy but wearable, durable, and classic - the Pea Coat is perfect Winter wear and a wardrobe essential.

    A Bridge Coat in a supporting role in 'On the Waterfront’

    Robert Redford in a Pea Coat. You can’t get much cooler than this.

  • See more: 2012

  • 25 September, 2012

    We’ve just seen that our supplier of leather goods has his own blog. And on it he has this picture of wallets, keyholders, cardholders and phone holders ready to go to our stores in Japan.

    These are all hand-stitched so there is a lot of work there, but I can speak from experience when I say that this leather ages beautifully, and I am sure there will be some very happy Japanese customers very soon.

  • See more: 2012

  • 20 September, 2012

    Many thanks to Ed and Joe at The Travelling Gin Company for their appearance at Redchurch Street on Sunday. Unfortunately we had to wait until at least the end of the day before we could test their wares, but we are pleased to report that it was worth the wait. Perhaps we should do this every Sunday?


    Their appearance was to celebrate the launch of Design Week, and our celebration of the Tala Cook’s Measure.

  • See more: 2012

  • 07 September, 2012

    As part of the Icon Design Trail and Shoreditch Design Triangle,
    Labour and Wait will be holding an exhibition celebrating the iconic
    Tala Cook’s Measure’.

    A kitchen classic which is as useful today as when it was first introduced, the Cook's Measure is still made by hand in England, by a skilled workforce of only two people.

    Join us in store as we celebrate throughout the London Design Festival from Saturday 15th until Sunday 23rd September. 

    The Travelling Gin Company will also be providing a rather unique bar experience straight from their bicycles throughout the day on
    Sunday 16th September.

    Exhibition Open Saturday 15th  - Sunday 23rd, 11am - 6pm. Closed Monday.


  • See more: 2012, Icon Design Trail, Shoreditch Design Triangle

  • 01 September, 2012
    This preserving jar is from America. We are always looking for these jars, whose aqueous hue is so appealing. The earliest examples date from the 1930s and have beautiful irregularities in the glass.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 01 September, 2012

    Due to recent legislation regarding the sale of lightbulbs, we would like to make clear to all customers that we sell our bulbs as ‘Rough Service’ lightbulbs, suitable for industrial or outdoor use.

    In selling these bulbs we declare that they are not suitable for household illumination. However, we can not prevent customers using them whichever way they choose.

  • See more: 2012

  • 19 August, 2012


    We recently took a trip to to Austria to visit the factory of Riess, one of our enamelware suppliers. Inspired by this visit, we thought we should share some of the secrets of enamelware and spread the word about this durable and versatile material. 

    So here is the Labour and Wait three part guide to enamel:

    Enamel Production

    Enamel Qualities

    Enamel Care


    Our Airforce Milk Pan is a traditional Riess product in our own custom colour.

  • See more: 2012, Eco-Friendly, Enamelware

  • 19 August, 2012

    Enamel consists of natural raw materials. Glass, potash and metal oxide are combined in a furnace and heated to between 1,000°C and 1,200°C. The resulting liquid enamel mass is then poured out between two water-cooled rollers, forming a thin plate which is then broken down into enamel chips, known as ‘frits’.

    This raw enamel is then finely ground with additives and pigments before being mixed with water. Almost any colour can be created through this process, which creates the coloured slick. 

    Enamel can be applied to metals such as cast iron, aluminium and copper, although Riess use rough sheet metal. This is then either cold pressed or turned in a number of processes which create the base vessel.

    These metal blanks are then dipped in an acid bath to burn off any impurities before they are ready for the first coat of enamel.

    This first coat is the bisque, the plain undercoat. During the drying process these jugs will pass through the drying furnace at approximately 80°C.   

    At Riess each item is hand-dipped in the enamel slick. 

    A series of ingenious Heath-Robinson devices are then used to turn the pots after the enamel is applied. This allows the viscous enamel to slowly and evenly coat the surface, while a quick flick with each turn shakes off drips which can then be collected and reused.

    Each item will require at least two or three coats, including a grey undercoat, a base coat and the final colour, before the contrast interior colour is added.

    Hand finishing ensures each item is up to standard, with an even covering and no drip marks. 

    Each coat requires a trip through the furnace to fully dry, before the finished product is finally baked at a temperature of around 860°C. It is this final baking that creates the finished product - the vitreous coating and the steel base fuse together to create a new and unique material: enamel.

  • See more: 2012, Eco-Friendly, Enamelware

  • 19 August, 2012

    Enamel is a unique material, sharing the characteristics of glass and steel while offering more versatility than ceramic or plastic. 

    Enamel can be used on gas, electric or induction hobs, and can be taken straight from the hob to the oven to the table. 

    Premium enamel is distinguished by its exceptionally tough, cut- and scratch resistant surface. 

    The surface is resistant to dirt and bacteria and is easy to clean. The natural raw materials used in its manufacture means it is safe for all food uses, and it will not flavour or colour the food. 

    Enamel will not emit any harmful or noxious fumes, even when heated to very high temperatures. 

    Enamel’s high heat conductivity ensures hot food cooks quickly and thoroughly, while cold foods keep cool for longer. 

    Enamel’s qualities make it ideal all around the home, and not just in the kitchen.

  • See more: 2012, Enamelware

  • 19 August, 2012

    Looked after with care, your enamel product should last a lifetime. However, to ensure the best performance, please note the following instructions.

    • Boil all enamelware with water before using for the first time.
    • Rinse out briefly with water before filling with food that is prone to leave deposits behind ( e.g milk ).
    • Never apply heat when empty - the base is liable to become deformed.
    • Do not rinse enamelware when hot - allow to cool down first.
    • Always soak stubborn food residues before cleaning. Never scrape burnt-on food away with hard objects or scourers. If necessary, boil saucepans using water and washing-up liquid. 
    • Do not place enamelware in the dishwasher, as the combination of the soap and washing action is abrasive.
    • Enamel is extremely tough and highly accident-resistant. However, the enamel coating can be damaged if dropped onto a hard surface

  • See more: 2012, Enamelware

  • 01 August, 2012
    A clothes brush which unfolds to become a coat-hanger, or a coat-hanger which folds to become a clothes brush? This 'Heath-Robinson' device would have been indispensable to a seasoned traveler in the 1950s.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 29 July, 2012

    Shhh, don’t tell LOCOG - 

    We can’t help but be swept up by the sporting spirit in London at the moment and, despite our usual seen-it-all-before cynicism, we all agreed that the opening ceremony was a spectacular event - and the Heatherwick cauldron was an amazing piece of work. Good luck to Team GB and all the athletes taking part.

  • See more: 2012

  • 21 July, 2012

    Please excuse the mess in our mail order department, but we’d just like to show you some of the vintage enamel that has recently arrived.

    If you haven’t been in to our Redchurch Street store you may not know that we sell a selection of vintage items. This ‘new old stock’ is all in perfect condition, and can range from stoneware pancheons and flagons to enamel stewpots and glass measuring jars. We have sold these items for many years and, although they are becoming harder to find these days, we still manage to unearth some great examples.

    Vintage enamelware is particularly hard to find, as it can chip or crack so easily if not looked after. So this hoard of perfect pots and jugs was a lucky find.

    The speckled enamel in particular is something we really love here; despite searching all over Europe, we can’t find a factory that produces modern examples like this, and to the same standard.

    Until then, we just have to rely on finding vintage examples like these. Available now in our Redchurch Street store.

  • See more: 2012, Enamelware, vintage

  • 14 July, 2012

    Pop in store Today & Tomorrow to catch our Weekend Sale. End of Line, Samples and Shop Soiled stock. Bargains galore!

  • See more: 2012

  • 03 July, 2012

    Our aprons are now back in stock.

    These ones have been put aside for various bars, cafes and restaurants, but there are still plenty available in all three styles - 

    The original Work Apron

    The Bib Apron

    And the new Waist Apron with Pocket.

  • See more: 2012, Aprons

  • 01 July, 2012

    These hard-wearing tote bags have been proving popular in our Redchurch Street store so we’re very pleased to introduce them to our Online Catalogue.

    Originally made from leftover fabric from the Swiss Army, these bags are still hand-crafted in Germany from a military grade canvas. Adjustable leather straps, reinforced corners and zip pocket mean this is one ‘tough tote’.

    Large Totes are available for £80 in Green/Tan or Black/Grey.

    As mentioned earlier on the blog, we now stock a range of locally made leather goods, these are all now available to buy online .

    The Key Holder, £55.

    iPhone Case, £55.

    Wallet, £85.

    Card Holder, £50.

  • See more: 2012

  • 01 July, 2012
    We found this teapot at a vintage fair, and immediately fell for its quirky ugliness. The contrasting spout and wicker covered handle makes it demand attention. In ten years we have never seen another one!

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 19 June, 2012

    In anticipation of some sunny weather, we have just received our new stock of espardenyes, fresh from Barcelona.

    For more information on these classic summer favourites, you can read our previous post from last year, or just pop in to Redchurch Street.

  • See more: 2012

  • 15 June, 2012

    Some father’s day gift suggestions for the Labour and Wait customer.

    Our new Multi Spot Handkerchief, £5.00

    The triple-laminate leather handled American Hammer. £48.00

    The Brady Wash Bag will last a lifetime. Available in Khaki or Black. £40.00

    The Horn Comb, made from North African cattle horn. Each is unique. £10.00

    The Professional Corkscrew from France. £22.00

    A Bridle Leather Belt, Handmade in England £60.00

    The Black Enamel Milk Pan, £20.00

    The Elementary Screwdriver Set, Handmade in the UK. £40.00 
    Also available individually.

  • See more: 2012

  • 07 June, 2012

    May we introduce our new line of handmade leather accessories. 

    From left to right; wallet, phone case, key holder and card holder.

    The wallet has space for up to six cards and a couple of folded notes inside, with an extra pocket on the rear.

    Made of vegetable tanned leather and hand-stitched using beeswax linen thread, these items will age beautifully. 

    The phone case was designed to fit an iPhone, but will work for all modern smartphones. 

    Keys can be kept safely secure inside this holder; the strap can be pulled out or clipped securely when not in use.

    The d-ring allows you to hang the holder up, to ensure your keys are always where you expect them to be.

    The small card holder will easily carry four cards, and is ideal for travelcards or oystercards.

    All of these products are hand made in London.

    Available now at our Redchurch Street Store and on our website.

  • See more: 2012

  • 01 June, 2012

    To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee we will be having a day off!

    Labour and Wait will be closed on Tuesday 5th June, so our opening hours for this weekend are as follows:

    Sat 11.00 - 6.00

    Sun 11.00 - 6.00

    Mon CLOSED

    Tues CLOSED

    Weds 11.00 - 6.00

    And may we wish a happy long weekend to Royalists and Republicans alike.

  • See more: 2012

  • 01 June, 2012
    This jolly juicer dates from the 1970s. Its shape and colour implies its function perfectly. On picking it up, the urge to squeeze the handles is almost irresistible.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 22 May, 2012

    We found some postcards pushed through our letterbox the other day, with this picture on it.

    The artist is Marc Gooderham, who ‘captures the decaying still-lifes of a forgotten London.’ Well I hope we’re not that forgotten, but its interesting to see the old Georgian building next to our shop, which for many years was a squat, and which was demolished to make way for another new block of flats. No doubt offering exclusive urban living with a touch of Shoreditch edge.

    The artist’s website is

  • See more: 2012, Redchurch Street

  • 16 May, 2012

    Available in store for a limited period, the finest German Legal String.

  • See more: 2012

  • 05 May, 2012

    Gin and Tonic on a bike; what a combination! We always like to see where our products end up so we are delighted to see the Travelling Gin Co. using our work aprons

    I think we can definitely see the need for a G&T or two outside Redchurch Street this summer…

    The Travelling Gin Co.

  • See more: 2012, Aprons

  • 01 May, 2012
    A recent find, the pleasing shape of this simple skimmer reminds us of the domestic still life paintings of artist William Scott.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 25 April, 2012

    At last! We’re pleased to say that White Enamel Tea Pots, Mugs, Pudding Basins, Plates and Small, Medium and Large Pie Dishes are all back in stock.

  • See more: 2012

  • 01 April, 2012
    They don't make them like this any more (unfortunately!) A beautifully proportioned pail, enamelled in the mottled grey of an April sky. It is humble, but beautiful.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 27 March, 2012

    Allow us to pass you over to our favorite city chronicler and blue-eyed bohemian The Gentle Author to  introduce a new series of ‘Field Trips’, in which our esteemed author chronicles our most noteworthy manufacturers and suppliers. The first visit is to R. Russell, Brush-maker.

    Labour and Wait Field Trip #1

  • See more: 2012, The Gentle Author

  • 01 March, 2012
    This old 'Betterware' brush is from our brush collection. We have always had a curious fascination with brushes as they come in so many different shades and sizes, often with very specific uses. This one, we believe, is simply for removing cobwebs.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 22 February, 2012

    Zenith 520/E Desk Stapler

    Zenith 548/E2 Handheld Stapler

    Zenith 788 Hole Punch

    Zenith 580 Staple Remover

    UHU All Purpose Glue.

    Additions to our Stationery range. Now available in our Redchurch Street store.

  • See more: 2012

  • 01 February, 2012
    This small milk jug hails from Staffordshire. Its stripes have all the balance and harmony of a Ben Nicholson relief, or a Josef Albers painting. Art for the breakfast table!

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 19 January, 2012

    Our new products for 2012 are starting to arrive. We don’t seem to have had any time to look for new things since… well, since we started to plan Redchurch Street. So we welcome our first arrival of the year, these 100% linen Irish-made tea towels.

    Available in red or blue, these are the best quality towels we’ve come across and, as vintage linen tea towels are getting harder to find and more expensive to buy, we are sure they will prove to be very popular.

    Linen is traditionally the favoured material for tea towels and glass cloths, as it leaves no marks or residue, and doesn’t shed fibres like cotton - just give them a hot wash before use and the mesh tightens up to leave you with a perfect tea towel.

    Available instore now, at £14.00 each. 

  • See more: 2012

  • 13 January, 2012

    Its Tachiagari at Dover Street Market. This bi-annual rebirth sees the entire store closed, refitted and remerchandised, ready for the new season.

    As always, we’ve played our part, refreshing our concession and removing any sign of winter, as we set ourselves for Spring / Summer 2012.

    This season sees exciting new developments at DSM, as Hussein Chalayan and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen open new spaces on the third floor, while Michael Costiff and Ann Demeulemeester will completely renew their existing homes. Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Stephen Jones and B Store will also be refreshing their spaces.

    DSM are particularly excited to be introducing a lot of new highly individual and talented names in S/S 2012, ranging from collections by Simone Rocha, Jacquemus, Phoebe English, Tim Coppens, Craig Lawrence and Greg Lauren to shoes by Buruk Uyan, Simona Vanth, and lastly but very not leastly, Cherevichkiotvichki, amazing creations for the feet by Victoria Andrejeva.

    Of course, if you are just looking for a toilet brush or a teapot our concession will serve just as well.

    Dover Street Market will re-open on Saturday 17th of January, with Jake and Dinos Chapman signing copies of their new book ‘Flogging a Dead Horse’. Free drinks and snacks will be supplied by our neighbours on the fourth floor, the Rose Bakery.

  • See more: 2012, Dover Street Market

  • 07 January, 2012

    Well we couldn’t have timed it any better; we sold out of our very last Independent London Store Guide on our last day before closing for Christmas, and we opened again in January with a delivery of Issue 3.

    For those unfamiliar with this publication, Independent London is exactly what it says, your guide to the best independent shops and cafes in London, and is almost exactly like having a particularly knowledgeable and erudite friend telling you where to go and what to see. And who handily fits in your pocket.

    Issue 3 also sees an expansion into more food and drink, with additions such as The Kenton pub, and a family butchers in still-to-be-gentrified Well Street, as well as coffee roasters, fishmongers, brewers and a particularly mouth-watering Chocolaterie in Peckham. 

    As 2011 saw the opening of a vast East London shopping megalopolis to mirror its counterpart in the West, and the arrival into Shoreditch of ‘brands’ disguised by shipping containers, the start of 2012 seems as good a time as any to remind everyone of the need ( and the pleasure ) of shopping small, shopping local, and shopping independent.

  • See more: 2012

  • 01 January, 2012
    Bought several years ago in France, this two-piece coffee pot caught our eye with its perfect proportions. It has a pleasing simplicity of design married with a comforting homely appearance.

  • See more: 2012, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 28 December, 2011

    Throughout the new year we will be sharing each monthly image from our 2012 calendar.

    At LABOUR AND WAIT we always stock a selection of vintage items which we hope customers will incorporate into their daily lives. For ten years we have enjoyed exploring vintage markets both in the UK and abroad in search of unique items to rescue and restore to life. We are always attracted by the often quirky design of products manufactured in the past, whose colours and shapes can seem startling to our eyes. We never know what we will unearth and sometimes we find it hard to part with our discoveries. In this calendar we would like to share some of our favourite finds with you.

  • See more: 2011, Calendar, Vintage Finds

  • 22 December, 2011

    Thanks to all our friends and customers for a very busy and successful year - we’ll be closing at 6pm on the 23rd December for a well-earned break, before starting back at 11am onTuesday 3rd January. 

    We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

  • See more: 2011, christmas

  • 16 December, 2011

    They’ve been stuck in customs for a while, but our American Log Cabins are in store just in time for Christmas.

  • See more: 2011, christmas

  • 15 December, 2011

    Tools to Live By in Casa Brutus magazine.

  • See more: 2011, Press

  • 03 December, 2011

    A word about our postage, and in particular our environmental policy.

    At Labour and Wait we are careful to reuse all our packaging. We go through vast amounts of cardboard, paper and bubble wrap, and all this is reutilised as we send out our own mail order. 


    We try to reuse everything that we receive from deliveries of our stock, which you can imagine, with such breadth in our offering, is quite substantial.


    So if your package has old stickers, or tape marks, or is scuffed or scribbled on, or if your dustpan brush comes in a box marked ‘enamel mugs - priced’, then don’t worry, the items inside will be perfectly preserved and ready to be used, so just think of the old saying: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  • See more: 2011, Mail Order

  • 03 December, 2011

    Our Tokyobike collaboration took a trip around London on Saturday as part of the November Tweed Run.

    Pictured above is a very dapper gentleman by the name of Neil, who would be happy to sell you a Tokyobike from his new showroom / workshop in the Sunbury Workshops, just around the corner from us here in Redchurch Street.

    On the trip the Carradice Junior saddlebag attracted many admiring looks; we had a visit from Carradice recently, showing us a bag from their archive and discussing plans for the future. There look to be some great products coming down the line, tailored more for the urban cyclist rather than the traditional country hill-climber; more Peckham Rye than Pendle Hill.


    We love traditional companies like Carradice. Owned and run by the same family for generations, they can tell you not only when each product was made, but in which factory, as the story of their expansion mirrors the story of their success.

    When the Tweeders have lost interest, and dressing up as English Gent circa 1951 becomes passé ( or even outré ) there will still be companies like Carradice making great products for cyclists to use, and which make their bikes look even better. This is in complete accord with our philosophy of timeless functionality, favouring products that have always been and always will be desirable, outside of fashion or trends.

    Carradice will be approaching their centenary soon, and they look as healthy now as they did in 1930. 

  • See more: 2011

  • 01 December, 2011

    Once again SCP have been very helpful in organising and co-ordinating all the Shoreditch shops of interest, and they have designed a map for the ’Shoreditch Christmas Triangle’. Although slightly outside of the strictest limits of the triangle itself, we are part of the wider Shoreditch Rhombus and so we can present the map here - with Labour and Wait included on the Eastern fringes.

    ( Click on map or here for a larger, downloadable copy of the map ). 

    The map highlights all the design-based shops in the Shoreditch area, with their plans for Christmas events, and is the perfect guide to what is happening in December. 

    As mentioned below, we will be open until 9pm on Thursday the 8th of December, and we will be serving mulled cider and mince pies, so come along and beat the Christmas rush!  

  • See more: 2011, christmas

  • 01 December, 2011

    The French jams are arrived! 

    One of our perennial Christmas bestsellers, these French jams are perfect for presents or as a treat for yourself - we have six flavours: Rhubarb, Fig, Black Cherry, Quince, Greengage and Pear. 

    They will be on the website very soon or, if you can’t wait, drop us an email at

  • See more: 2011, christmas

  • 25 November, 2011

    After last year’s blizzard-hit whiteout we’re hoping this year’s Christmas Shopping evening will be a bit more enjoyable! All are welcome on the 8th of December for mince pies and mulled cider. 

    All the shops on Redchurch Street and Calvert Avenue will be taking part, including Anthem, Aesop, Hostem, A.P.C, Sunspel, Luna and Curious, Tracey Nuel, Ally Capellino, Leila’s Shop and our new neighbours Carousel Emporium, so you can make a Christmassy East London night of it! 

    Thursday 8th December, 6 to 9pm. 

  • See more: 2011, christmas

  • 24 November, 2011

    We have received our delivery of books from Little Toller, an imprint of the Dovecote Press. From their Dorset base this publisher specialises in books of the English countryside, rescued from obscurity and reprinted in new editions inspired by the spirit of the original editions, replete with contemporary illustrations in a wonderfully tactile, sewn paperback.

    We have chosen six titles, each a reprint of a classic depiction of nature or of rural life, from the centenary edition of the poet Edward Thomas’ South Country, to the exploration of 1970s inner-city wildlife that is Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside. As the winter evenings draw in, surely now is the perfect time to lose yourself in a good book?

    Men and the Fields - Adrian Bell

    Introduced by Ronald Blythe, with a preface by Martin Bell. This edition restores the original colour lithographs and black and white line drawings by John Nash that appeared in the first edition.

    ‘I sat against an oak trunk, staring at oak trunks, tracing their boughs upward to the hurrying white clouds beyond, and wondered why one worried about anything. But then I ceased even to wonder, but dozed awake, like a tree.’

    Four Hedges - Claire Leighton

    Introduced by Carol Klein, with a preface by David Leighton. Includes 84 wood engravings by the author.

    'In the Sky, above our meadow, larks sing. I feel a sudden rush of pride in the ownership of this untilled land; it is not that I value possession, but I am proud to be landlord to the lark who pays for his home with such boundless song.’

    The South Country - Edward Thomas

    Introduced by Robert Macfarlane. Cover illustration by David Inshaw, with engravings by Eric Daglish throughout.


    'Unlearned, incurious, but finding deepest ease and joy out of doors, I have gone about the South Country these twenty years and more on foot… When, in the clear windy dawn, thin clouds like traveller’s joy are upon the air, it seems that up there also, in those placid places, they travel and know the joy of the road.’

    Sweet Thames Run Softly - Robert Gibbins

    Introduced by Luke Jennings. Cover by Edwin La Dell with wood engravings by Robert Gibbings.

    All I could see was the rushes and their reflections on either side of the river. Nothing was visible beyond them, and the banks, following each bend, cut off my view ahead so that I seemed to be floating on some enchanted lake, high up on the very rim of the world.’

    The Unofficial Countryside - Richard Mabey

    Introduced by Iain Sinclair. Cover illustration by Mary Newcomb, with illustrations from Mary Newcomb’s sketchbook.

    ’… the canal here was as clear as a chalk stream. Yellow water lilies drooped like balls of molten wax on the surface. Near the edge of the water drifts of newly hatched fish hung in the shallows. Anglers, fresh out of work, were setting up their tackle on the bank, and family parties chugged past in holiday cruisers…’

    The Journal of a Disappointed Man - W.N.P. Barbellion

    Introduced by Tim Dee. Cover illustration by Ed Kluz, with 3 facsimiles of handwritten letters by the author.

    ’… my pen is a delicate needle point, tracing out a graph of temperament… You get all my thoughts and opinions, always irresponsible and often contradictory or mutually exclusive, all my moods and vapours, all the varying reactions to environment of this jelly which is I… the book is a self-portrait in the nude.’

    Each book is £10.00, and all are available at our Redchurch Street Store.

  • See more: 2011

  • 13 October, 2011

    *Please note that this blog entry is from October 2011 and we no longer have North Sea Clothing in stock*

    We’re very excited to be stocking North Sea Clothing Submariner Jumpers.


    We’ve been looking for this particular product for a while now, and after having been tipped off about a company making perfect replicas of this classic style, we are happy to say that they are now in store.


    War Office issue in both World Wars, the Royal Navy deck sweater was better known as the Submariner and, as is often the way, this item of clothing gained a new lease of life through ex-servicemen wearing them on civvy street, while at the same time large amounts of unused stock ended up in surplus stores.


    During the 1950s this style was in particular favour amongst motorcyclists who would wear them underneath their leather jackets, and it is through a dealer of vintage Barbour and Belstaff leathers that this new Submariner came to life.


    Made in Nottingham from the same heavy 5 gauge knit as the original, this loving recreation has been slightly altered for a modern market ( with longer sleeves and a shorter body ), while retaining all the classic features that made it such an essential piece of kit. The deep ribbing on the waist and the high roll-neck make it an unusual fit for one not used to the style, while the undyed wool can perhaps seem coarse to those more used to the fine gauges or cashmeres of many modern jumpers. These are, of course, part of the jumper’s essential raison d'etre and to smooth out these design features is to negate the very meaning of the jumper. In a similar vein, the slight aroma the jumpers carry is the lanolin in the wool, which helps to keep its new owners dry in the same was as it once did the original. All serve to remind that this is a functional product; yes, it looks great, but it was designed with a purpose in mind. 

    North Sea Neil

  • See more: 2011

  • 13 October, 2011

    One of our most popular clothing lines is now back in stock.

    The Schott Pea Coat is, we believe, the finest quality example of this classic style, and we are pleased to announce its rearrival for Autumn / Winter 2011. A true design original, this heavyweight jacket is one of the many reasons to welcome the arrival of colder weather. 

    Originating, as many menswear staples do, from the needs of military service, the Pea Coat was standard issue for British and American navies before being de-mobbed into civilian service. The heavyweight 32 oz Melton Wool is the original windcheater, being thick, warm and durable; the wool is mixed with 25% nylon and other threads which are interlocked and pressed together before being cut, to ensure maximum protection against the elements, whether you are battling your way against the high seas or up the high street.

    The classic Pea Coat derives from the Royal Navy Reefer Jacket, originally intended for ‘reefers’ ( Midshipmen ) on board sailing ships, whose job was to climb the rigging and unfurl, or 'reef’, the ship’s sails. The jacket was short, to allow ease of movement through the rigging, while the double-breasted front, which displaced the buttons to each side, helped to reduce the chance of them getting caught on ropes as the wearer maneuvered the sails. 

    The classic Pea Coat has ten buttons; four pairs in the double breasted style, plus two at the collar. This allows the coat to be buttoned fully to the neck which, with the wide, heavy collar, ensures complete wind and weather resistance.

    Richard Crenna exhibiting classic Pea Coat style in 'Wait Until Dark’ 

    So why 'Pea Coat’? As ever with these stories, there are different explanations as to how this name was arrived at. The classic version is that these are 'P’ coats, as worn by the ship’s Pilot, although an older story has the name coming from the Dutch Pijjeker, where Pij is the coarse, heavy wool from which the jacket was made; this material itself became known as Pilot Cloth or P Cloth, hence the P Coat.

    The longer, thigh length version is known as the Bridge Coat.

    This year we are also offering this style in children’s sizes. As all well-dressed ladies know, the men’s cuts are often superior to the female and the Pea Coat is no exception. The female version has a shaped waist which offers a more feminine profile, but which also lacks the silhouette of the original style, so losing that classic look. The children’s Schott jackets offer the classic Pea Coat style even in smaller sizes.

    Serge Gainsbourg showing how to wear a Pea Coat

    Heavy but wearable, durable, and classic - the Pea Coat is perfect Winter wear and a wardrobe essential.

    A Bridge Coat in a supporting role in 'On the Waterfront’

    Robert Redford in a Pea Coat. You can’t get much cooler than this.

  • See more: 2011

  • 01 October, 2011

    Here is a very quick sneak-peek at our new 2012 Vintage Finds Calendar.

    Over the years we have collected some odd, unusual and interesting vintage items which we have then sold in the store. Some, however, were so nice that we couldn’t bear to sell them but thought instead that they should be put on display somewhere. Hence the Labour and Wait Calendar 2012. 


    A collection of 12 of our most interesting vintage finds, this calendar comes as loose leafs with a complimentary clipboard - in future years, the new design will simply slip into the existing clipboard. Quick, convenient and re-usable.

    The calendar is available in store for £14.00, and will be available online soon.

  • See more: 2011, Calendar

  • 22 September, 2011

    Unfortunately one of our long-serving members of staff is leaving us - Nick will have been a familiar sight for many of our Sunday customers, and for many people in and around Shoreditch and Spitalfields, where he and his partner Paul could often be found engaging in the fine and half-forgotten art of flaneuring

    But now the time has come for Nick to leave us; we wish him well, and start the search for his replacement. If you are interested in working for us on Sundays, have experience of customer service, understand and appreciate the Labour and Wait ethos and are available over Christmas, please send your C.V to the address above, or pop in to the store.


    We are also looking for temporary Christmas staff, so applications are welcome for these positions too.

  • See more: 2011, vacancies

  • 17 September, 2011

    We are pleased to introduce the Turner and Harper range of Luxury Goods and Homewares.

    Turner and Harper is a British brand devoted to creating quality crafted products for the home. We create products which nod to tradition, balancing timeless aesthetics with considered material choices. At our core is a fascination with translating the small details that fill our daily lives into products which communicate their quality, function and place. 

    The Turner and Harper range of brushes and domestic tools represent a return to craft traditions and considered material selection. The quality of the woods and of the hog bristle, as well as the enameling on the bowls, make these an outstanding collection of products and, though you’d be tempted not to use them and to put them on display for all to see, they are functional products, designed to be used.


    Completely hand made, finished with a hard wearing stain proof oil. Bristled with soft hog hair that will collect fine dust with ease. The bristle can also be washed to restore it as use takes its toll.

    Materials: Black Walnut, Pure Hog Bristle.

    Clothes Brush

    A hard wearing stiff bristled brush, suited to brushing clothes, scrubbing vegetables or as a nail brush. Hand machined and finished with a waterproof oil; the unique quality of each piece is accentuated by the differing grain in the carefully selected wood.

    Materials: Oak, Black Walnut, Pure Hog Bristle.


    Brushed stainless steel dustpan with a rubber coated handle to grip the brush. The metal is shaped with a hyde mallet, carefully assembled by hand and finished with refined industrial processes.

    Materials: Stainless Steel, PVC Rubber.

    Enamel Household Basin

    A vitreous enamel basin with tall sides that lend themselves to carrying water without spillage. The kink in the sides serves to make holding a full, heavy vessel more comfortable, while the unique properties of enamel result in a very hard wearing finish which is inert to chemicals.

    The steel is cold formed in a spinning process which hardens the material, resulting in a strong, durable product.

    Materials: Steel, Vitreous Enamel.


    A soft hog bristle broom ideally suited for use on tiled and wooden floors. The wood is selected, machined and finished by hand, giving a unique character to each piece.

    Supplied with a small hook to aid storage and prolong the life of the bristle. 

    Bespoke stainless steel bolts fix the handle to the brush head, employing skills usually reserved for restoration of vintage motorcycles. By bolting the elements together, the connection is strengthened, allowing for any maintenance that may be required with time and use.

    Materials: Black Walnut, Pure Hog Bristle, Powder Coated Steel, Bespoke Stainless Steel Fixings.

    Turner and Harper is being launched exclusively through Labour and Wait during London Design Week. 

    As part of this launch, and as part of Shoreditch Design Triangle, our Redchurch Street store will be opening late on Tuesday 20th September, when designer Tom Harper will be in store to introduce his range of products.

  • See more: 2011

  • 14 September, 2011

    Labour and Wait feature in the October issue of The World of Interiors, alongside four other independent shops specialising in timeless and practical products. 

    We are no strangers to photoshoots in this shop, so we always know it will be a good one when the photographer has not only a medium format camera, but medium format film; these World of Interior photos prove the truth of this rule.

  • See more: 2011, Press

  • 14 September, 2011

    Labour and Wait have been shortlisted in the Best British Retailer section of the British Design Awards 2011.


    The British Design Awards (BDAs) recognise beautiful, useful and original new work created by designers for UK and international brands, and are brought to us by ELLE Decoration in association with John Lewis and with support from Telegraph Magazine.

    Although we don’t count as new, we’d like to see ourselves as being beautiful, useful and original. Thanks to all at Elle and the BDAs for including us.

    ( Should you wish to, you can vote here )

  • See more: 2011, Press

  • 13 September, 2011

    With the sudden onset of autumn, its time to for us to start introducing some of our warmer and woolier lines; these Irish Cottage Socks are a real treat for frozen feet and one of our most popular winter products.  

    Available in our Redchurch Street store now, or email us for more info.                 

  • See more: 2011

  • 09 September, 2011

    Who is the Gentle Author? This mysterious character is as much a part of Spitalfields’ myth and mystery as any of the personages past and present featured in the exquisite historical and sociological blog Spitalfields Life.

    We are very proud to have appeared in the backpages of this fascinating online record of the life and times of this part of London in which we settled ten years ago, and which we now call home. So we were intrigued by the appearance of an invitation to the unveiling of the Map of Spitalfields Life.

    Drawn by Adam Dant, himself a Spitalfields character of no little renown, whose beautifully drawn, delicate and detailed maps of the East End of London have entertained and intrigued locals and visitors alike, this map promises to reveal the stories of fifty of the people who have made Spitalfields so distinctive.

    The map, devised and drawn under the strictest security, will be unveiled by Sandra Esqulant, Queen of Spitalfields, at 7 o'clock sharp on Thursday 15th September, at Town House, Fournier Street. We’ll be there, and we can’t wait to see who’ll be on the map.

  • See more: 2011, The Gentle Author

  • 09 September, 2011

    From the 17th to the 25th of September Labour and Wait will be taking part in this year’s Shoreditch Design Triangle. Thirty four local shops, galleries and studios will be hosting a variety of events and exhibitions showcasing the best in contemporary design. 

    As part of this, and to tie in with London Design Week, we will be launching the Turner and Harper range of brushes, as well as participating in the Late Night Shopping event on Tuesday 20th. This will be a chance to meet the designer of this exclusive range, as well as to have a browse of our Redchurch Street store, and to see all the interesting events taking place in and around Shoreditch.

    The Design Triangle is coordinated by SCP with their media partners Dezeen, and a map and guide to the events can be found here.

  • See more: 2011, Shoreditch Design Triangle

  • 27 August, 2011

    We are pleased to present Labour and Wait’s collaboration with Tokyobike.

    The resurgence of interest in urban cycling is one of the most remarkable stories of the past few years.

    Perhaps the influence of ‘fixie’ culture has worked its way into the mainstream, for there is no avoiding the brightly coloured, narrow handlebarred single-geared machines weaving in and out of the London traffic, nor the classic ( and not so classic ) racers and their hunched and frantic riders. All these cyclists now take their place on the roads alongside the town bikes, the tourers, the Dutch bikes, mountain bikes, Bromptons, shoppers, choppers, BMXs, and cruisers; and lets not ignore the invigorating renaissance of the bike shops, workshops, renovators and restorers and, most curiously, the birth of the bike café.

    Those of us who have cycled for many years recognize the freedom and the spontaneity of cycling, as well as the pure and simple pleasure of getting on your bike and pushing hard on the pedals, and it is a joy for us that this is something that more and more people are taking pleasure from. And it is also worth noting that at the start of the twenty-first century so many people are turning to a machine that has survived virtually unchanged for over one hundred years.

    So we are delighted to be able to reveal our collaboration with Tokyobike. We first became aware of this company a couple of years ago, both through our Japanese contacts and through their British distributors, when we were taken by the simple, clean lines of the bicycles and the thoughtful, curated appeal of their pop-up shops.

    The best way to describe the Tokyobike classic – the basis of this bike – is with the word that appears most often in our blog, in our shop and in our thinking: timeless. The Labour and Wait Tokyobike is truly timeless, for we are neither neon hipster nor tweed-clad gent, but we are who we are. 

    We love the mix of modern and classic on this bike – the full steel frame and Shimano gears with our specification Brooks B17 leather saddle and Carradice Junior saddlebag. The bike is a hybrid of Japanese and British style, the frame designed and built in Japan, the accessories handmade here in the UK.

    This bike represents Labour and Wait, for it is not about ‘retro’ or nostalgia, but the simple pleasure of a well designed, functional and timeless product.

    With most blogs and articles on cycling, it seems correct to quote H.G Well’s famous words ( “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race” ), but in this instance we should turn instead to another author, Iris Murdoch, for our closing sentiment:

    “The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”

  • See more: 2011

  • 17 August, 2011

    Here is a sneak preview of a collection we will be launching as part of London Design Week.

    These boxes contain hand made brushes which, in the words of the designer, ‘combine a material quality that nods to tradition with a contemporary design aesthetic’. They will remain hidden, however, until their launch in September.

    Based in North Yorkshire, Turner & Harper are a new British company focused on the design and manufacture of timeless, functional products for the home, and we are delighted that they have chosen to launch their brand and their products through Labour and Wait. 

    The launch will take place in London Design Week 2011 ( 17th - 25th September ), when all will be revealed!

  • See more: 2011, Brushes

  • 21 July, 2011

    Our recently arrived – and long awaited - delivery of Japanese products included amongst it a small selection of Syussai pottery. The story of the Syussai kiln is a fascinating one, a story that crosses back and forth across the globe and which makes clear the connections between English Arts and Crafts and Japanese Mingei, between British studio potters and Japanese craftsmen and which links the Cornish town of St. Ives with a small kiln on the banks of the Hiikawa river.  

    The Syussai kiln was established in 1947 by five friends who each shared the aim of making simple, utilitarian crockery for everyday use. Their work was influenced by the Mingei “folk craft” movement founded by Yanagi Muneyoshi in the early years of the Twentieth Century, and which saw pure and natural beauty in ordinary objects created by unknown craftsmen for practical purposes. Mingei products celebrate the work of the artisan and the fulfillment of an object’s innate purpose.

    Tatano Hiromitsu, one of the founders of the Syussai kiln, learnt about Mingei through his studies of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement, the celebration of artisan craftsmanship which was in part a reaction against the industry and mass production of late Victorian England. Together with Kawai Ganjiro, an associate of Yanagi, Tatano came up with the idea of creating a kiln where individual craftsmen could create utilitarian pottery in a traditional manner. 


    The Syussai kiln was strongly influenced by the English potter Bernard Leach. Born in Hong Kong, Leach studied at the London School of Art and travelled and worked extensively in Japan and China before, in 1920, opening his own traditional Japanese “climbing kiln” in St Ives with his friend the Japanese potter Shoji Hamada. For the next 50 years, this kiln was the focal point for the studio pottery movement. Throughout Leach’s career he advocated that the potter’s focus should not be on decoration or embellishment but in the tactile and functional perfection of objects designed for everyday use. This belief, shaped by the principles of Mingei, defined the studio pottery movement and the St Ives kiln became the college for a new generation of potters making their way through Leach’s apprentice system. 

    Leach’s philosophy of pottery is contained in his classic A Potter’s Book. The required manual for any studio potter, practical tips are combined with aesthetic ideals and Leach’s interpretation of the values of Mingei -  “Enduring forms are full of quiet assurance. Overstatement is worse than understatement.” 

    The Syussai kiln is one of the few remaining where Bernard Leach originally stayed and where he shared his designs and expertise; the jug we are selling is one of Syussai’s Leach products. The most noteworthy feature of it is the handle, in a Western style, and which Leach called the ‘wet handle’. This is made from a ball of clay and shaped using the heat and humidity of the hand, imagining a branch growing from the trunk of a tree. The shape of the potter’s thumbprint remains, making an ergonomic grip. Even within Syussai there are only a few craftsmen who can make this handle.

    After 60 years, the Shussai kiln still insists on using local materials for its clay and glazes, and despite its fame, it continues to make practical crockery for ordinary people in the Izumo area. We are delighted to be able to provide this beautiful pottery to our customers here in England. The thread between English Arts and Crafts and Japanese Mingei, between St Ives and Hiikawa, runs through this Syussai pottery and defines the concept of studio pottery as laid down by Leach - the Marriage of East and West.

    The Syussai jugs are available in three sizes from our Redchurch Street store.

    The Leach Pottery in St Ives is still open as a studio, museum, gallery and shop.

  • See more: 2011

  • 20 July, 2011

    A selection of samples, seconds and shop soiled products are now available in our Redchurch Street store.

  • See more: 2011

  • 12 July, 2011

    We’re delighted to introduce our new range of lighting accessories. Bulbs, bulb holders and fabric cable are now available in store and online, the perfect partners for our enamel lampshades.

    The delicate appearance of the Swiss-made filament light bulb belies the strength of its illumination, and as we have them above the counter here in our shop we can vouch for their quality and longevity.

    The 60Watt bulb has a bayonet fitting, as have our bulb holders. These are available in brass, nickel and bronze and have a plastic grip to ensure a tight hold on the cord.

    The Italian-made fabric cable is available in four colours; brown, red, black and white. With four colours of lampshade also available, there is plenty of scope to create your own fabulous lighting arrangement.

    More information and pictures of our enamel lampshades can be seen below.

    All products are available online from our website.

  • See more: 2011

  • 25 June, 2011

    Enamel Lampshades are now back in stock.


    We will have some interesting news about fixtures and fittings for the lights very shortly, but in the meantime make sure you come in or reserve your shades, as they are going fast.

  • See more: 2011

  • 19 June, 2011

    As any visitor to Labour and Wait knows, we are a fairly hirsute lot. We wear a variety of beards, moustaches and ‘designer’ stubble, but we still acknowledge the importance of a good close shave, and so we are very excited about our new selection of safety razors and shaving accessories. 

    The Merkur range of razors, manufactured in Solingen, arrived in store recently. This area of Germany has long been renowned for the quality of its metalwork, particularly in bladed metal, and these razors are no exception. The Nickel plated safety razor is a design that can be traced back to 1904 and the first Gillette Double Edge Safety Razor, and is a simple, timeless design that should last a lifetime of shaving. 

    The Deluxe Safety Razor comes in its own case and is supplied with ten blades. The cream dial handle rotates to open the head, allowing easy replacement of the blade, and the razor itself has a wonderful heavy feel in the hand.

    For the perfect shave the razors are ideally accompanied with either our Valobra Shaving soap, long a favourite amongst our discerning male customers, or with our new Proraso shaving soap.

    Proraso has being making shaving soap in Italy since 1926, and is respected the world over for the quality of shave it provides. This shave cream has a delicate eucalyptus and menthol scent and is perfect used in conjunction with our 444 After Shave Balm.



    All these shaving products are available from our website.

    For a fantastic site full of information about classic razors and some beatiful illustrations and adverts, why not visit Mr-Razor?.

  • See more: 2011

  • 09 June, 2011

    We are delighted to introduce our new range of footwear, available from our Redchurch Street Store.

    We have searched for a long time to find the right espadrilles, and we are glad to have found the perfect supplier. Although these may look similar to those available in many other high street shops, we know these are of the highest quality, hand-made in Spain in the traditional manner and authentic in every detail.

    As any visitor to Barcelona knows, La Manual Alpargatera is the place to go for your espadrilles, and we are very happy to be the first British stockist of their classic artisan footwear. Established during the Civil War, La Manual have been making their espadrilles in the traditional way ever since. 

    Really, though, we should be calling these slippers espardenyes, after all that is the original Catalan name ( before the French corruption of espadrilles )And as these are made in Catalonia, it is only right to give them their true title. 

    Espardenyes are available in sizes 39 to 44 in Natural, Navy, Black, Brown and Red.


  • See more: 2011

  • 28 May, 2011

  • See more: 2011

  • 25 May, 2011

    We’ve had a visit from The Independent

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  • 27 April, 2011

    After seeing the unfortunate events in Japan recently, we were thinking about ways in which we could help out, when we received an email from Mizuyo Yamashita, a Japanese ceramicist who asked  if we would be interested in carrying some of her chopstick rests.

    We loved the look of these little houses so we agreed to sell them for her, with all profits going to the Japanese Red Cross and Civic Force. These have proved to be very popular with all of our customers and, thanks to their generosity, we have had to ask Mizuyo to bring us in new stock each week. 

    As we have suppliers, colleagues and friends in Japan we were glad to do our little bit to help and we are planning more for the future, but in the meantime please visit Mizuyo’s blog and have a look at some of her exquisite ceramics.

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  • 21 April, 2011

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  • 16 April, 2011

    Labour and Wait was honored to received a visit from Spitalfields Life this week. A figure familiar yet mysterious to those of us living and working in the area, the Gentle Author is the chronicler and curator of all things East London, a modern day Charles Lamb and a single-handed reincarnation of the Illustrated London News. 

    Our esteemed author was here to visit our Brush Museum, a collection of curios and keepsakes assembled over many years by Simon and Rachel, Labour and Wait’s founders and owners. Now displayed with pride on our staircase, these brushes are only a small selection of those collected over the years, and range from a nineteenth century clothes brush to a modern Japanese plasterer’s brush and a Swedish floor scrubber. The gentle author, however, can write about this collection with far more style and charm than I ever could, so please take a trip to this wonderful blog for more on our repository of sweepers, scourers, scrubbers, wipers and washers.

    Spitalfields Life

  • See more: 2011, Brushes

  • 13 April, 2011

    At Labour and Wait we believe in form, function and affordability. Everyday jobs and tasks can be completed with ease and enjoyment - pleasure, even - if only the right tools are used.

    The joys of simple, effective and affordable design are explored in Kim Colin and Sam Hecht’s new book ‘Usefulness in Small Things’. A collection of items from small local shops around the world, brought together through the theme of 'Under a Fiver’, the book is an examination of function and design, and of the relationship between object and user.

    As well as contributing a foreword to the book, Paul Smith is also hosting an exhibition to celebrate the launch, timed to coincide with the Milan Furniture Fair, and we are very pleased to have been able to supply some useful items of our own for this exhibition.

    Small Ostrich Feather Dusters

    Monkey’s Fist Rope Doorstop

    Portuguese 'Couto’ Toothpaste, Vaseline and Handcream, Enamel Soapdish, and Zambuck Herbal Balm.

    “Usefulness in Small Things” is on display at Paul Smith Milan, Palazzo Gallarati Scotti,
    Via Manzoni 30, from the 11th April.

    For more information on Paul Smith, check out his blog.

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  • 10 February, 2011

    The second edition of Independent London is now available at Labour and Wait. This great little book is your guide to the best of London’s independent shops, cafes and workshops.

    We know how much time, effort and energy goes into running these small businesses, whether in retail or publishing, so a book like this is perfect in spreading the word about all these great companies. The London independent scene is vibrant and exciting, with new shops appearing all the time, especially in local areas traditionally ignored by the major high street brands. So support your local shops, support your local area, and shop independent.

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  • 09 February, 2011

    So, after ten happy and successful years we finally bid farewell to our old home, number 18 Cheshire Street. All the stock has been packed up, the shelves have been taken down, the holes filled, the walls repainted and our vast collection of bits and pieces removed to Redchurch Street. All that remains is to give it one last clean, pull the shutters down and hand back the keys. 

    Simon and Rachel’s famous American Gothic pose, as seen in magazines worldwide.

    We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us at Cheshire Street, we have really enjoyed our time here and have felt lucky to be a part of this community. The street has changed so much since 2001, when we first opened, and it looks set to keep evolving with a new generation of shops and shopkeepers soon to establish themselves. Cheshire Street has had a huge role in the revitalisation of the East End and we’re glad to have played our part.

    Packing up and moving on… 

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  • 23 December, 2010

    Merry Christmas from all at Labour And Wait!

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  • 21 December, 2010

    We will be open as normal on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd December, and for last minute shoppers we will be open until 8pm on Thursday the 23rd.

    We will then be on our Christmas holidays until Tuesday the 4th of January.

    Thankyou for your support and custom this year, and we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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  • 09 December, 2010

    And the mail order department is running at full steam…


    To ensure your delivery arrives before Christmas, please make sure your order reaches us before Thursday the 16th December.

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  • 02 December, 2010

    Many thanks to those of you who made it to our opening party last week. Particular thanks go to Rochelle Canteen and Truman’s Beer. It is always good to work with local suppliers and businesses, and we were particularly pleased to have two firkins of beer from Truman’s, who have brought their famous name ( and their famous beer ) back to the pubs of East London.

    Our thanks also go to our generous friends and suppliers who provided us with the goodies for our gift bags:

    Aesop, The Boundary, Ally Capelino, Caravan, Historic Lighting Company, Kornflake, Old Town Clothing, Sunspel and Spitalfields Life

  • See more: 2010, Redchurch Street

  • 18 November, 2010

    Labour and Wait’s new premises was once the old Dolphin, a Truman, Hanbury and Buxton Co. public house. The distinctive tiled exterior has long been a feature of Redchurch Street and we are delighted to bring this building back to public life. 

    The above photo, of the Dolphin in the 1930s, is taken from the Dead Pubs website, and when we found the image we were delighted to see the writing on the curved corner window. One of our original intentions for this new store was to have handpainted signage and lettering on the windows, and this was completed for us in some style by Peter Hardwicke. 

    Peter’s work is in evidence all over London, and in particular the East End, and he completed the finishing touches on our new store, helping to link the new Labour and Wait with the old Dolphin.

    For more information on Peter and his signwriting, visit the ever-fascinating Spitalfields Life blog, from where this picture is taken. ( Photo by Jeremy Freedman )

    The Dolphin on Church Street

    Peter Hardwicke on Spitalfields Life

  • See more: 2010, Redchurch Street

  • 04 November, 2010

    So after ten successful years on Cheshire Street, Labour and Wait are proud to present our new home! Converted from an old Truman Brewery pub, 85 Redchurch Street is a short walk from our old store but represents an exciting new era for us. Open 6 days a week, the new store is bigger and brighter and features many new products alongside all the old favourites.

    And alongside the new shop we’ll also be easing ourselves into the 21st Century with this blog. We’ll be keeping you updated with news of products, events and various interesting bits and pieces. Welcome to Labour and Wait, we hope to see you in the store soon!

  • See more: 2010, Redchurch Street