Liberty: the Historic London Store Celebrates 140 Years

We raise a glass to Liberty, the iconic department store that has revolutionised British style with its timeless prints and trailblazing collaborations.

From the moment you step inside Liberty, it feels as though you are stepping back in time. "I was determined not to follow existing fashion but to create new ones," declared Victorian merchant Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty on founding the world-famous Liberty department store in 1875. 

Fast-forward 140 years, and shoppers can join in the celebrations as Liberty marks its anniversary year with special events and exclusive products. Devotees won’t want to miss this month’s Fashion and Textile Museum exhibition, Liberty in Fashion, and November’s Golden Ticket treasure hunt.

Liberty beauty hall, London, UK
The beauty hall is an elegant space. (Courtesy Liberty)

Drawing on the traditional bazaars and markets of the East, Liberty revolutionised British style with its exotic homeware and own-brand garments, accessories and fabrics. It was among the first to bring the work of Japanese artisans to eager British consumers, yet also championed homegrown talents, such as silversmith Archibald Knox and designer William Morris, the creator of its Strawberry Thief design—just one of many Liberty fabric prints celebrated for their beauty, opulence and craftsmanship. "Liberty is," says Managing Director Ed Burstell, "one of the last great emporiums of its kind."

Fabrics at Liberty, London, UK
Liberty is famous for its fabric designs. (Courtesy Liberty)

Major landmarks in the store’s history range from the 1924 opening of its iconic, neo-Tudor home, designed by architect Edwin T. Hall, to its trailblazing collaborations with important artisans, designers and brands.

Yet, arguably, Liberty’s most important innovation proved to be its signature fabric prints, which has been created in-house from the 1920s onwards. There’s an irresistibly exclusive commemorative Mayflower print and a fabulous new Art of the Scarf collection, which is inspired by Jackson Pollock and other great artists, which deconstructs, re-imagines and remixes Liberty’s principal archive prints.

Scarfs at Liberty, London, UK
A Liberty print scarf would look good in anyone's wardrobe. (Courtesy Liberty)

Fittingly, as the print has also been used by huge global brands such as Nike and Manolo Blahnik, you can meet the man himself at a book signing event in Liberty’s shoe department on November 11.

Regent St, W1B 5AH. T: 020-7734 1234.
www.liberty.co.uk 

Liberty handbags, London, UK
More than just the fabrics... there's also a good range of leather bags. (Courtesy Liberty)

Want to see more department stores in London?

Harrods

Arguably the most famous store in the world, Harrods (above) in Knightsbridge is renowned for its luxury brands, selling everything from men’s and women’s fashions to homeware—there is even a dedicated animal department where you can buy clothes for your pets. Don’t miss the food hall.

John Lewis

This popular chain of department stores has become a byword for quality and offers a range of products including fashion, tech, home and garden and sports and leisure.
The furniture and electrical departments are particularly comprehensive with an excellent choice of goods available.

Selfridges

Selfridges is one of the most innovative department stores: it has the world’s largest denim studio, and was the first department store to house a cinema. This iconic London store has been a firm favourite with shoppers and even spawned its own TV show, Mr Selfridge.

See more London shopping venues here.