I’m from Sutton in Surrey/ Greater London a town that today is perhaps not best known for its fashion credentials, however there was once a very well respected fashion boutique in Sutton that I’ve been trying to trace the history of.
Whilst reading Raymond Zelker’s memoir “The Polly Peck Story” I was intrigued to read about a popular boutique called Renee Shaw in Sutton- even more so as it was owned by a lady called Renee Shaw, the wife of fashion wholesaler Samuel Sherman. Sherman owned the hugely successful brand Sambo (and its various spin off’s including Dollyrockers whom Patti Boyd famously modelled for early in her career), however until this point I had never heard of his wife…and so my investigations began.
My initial research didn’t get me very far. A single photo on Francis Frith demonstrated that in 1965 the shop was at the top of the high street, next to Lloyds bank, however owing to the angle of the photo it is difficult to see the shop frontage (link to photo here).
After finding this first image I didn’t get much further and put Renee Shaw to the back of my mind whilst continuing my PhD research into Frederick Starke. My only other reference found was in a Harper’s Bazaar editorial from December 1962 which suggested that Renee Shaw was stocking a Liberty Dress by Sambo. (See below)
I ALWAYS do my best research by accident though, and in the past two weeks have turned up two gems relating to Renee Shaw. Firstly, whilst going through a 1948 Frederick Starke showroom diary I found that Shaw was amongst the buyers at one of Starke’s shows. This suggested to me that the store was stocking high-end ready to wear merchandise and, it also demonstrated that the shop must have been open between at least c.1948-c.1965. This week however I struck (in my opinion) GOLD. Whilst flicking through obscure trade journal Fashion Trade Weekly I FINALLY found a picture of Renee Shaw’s shop after a revamp. Full text and picture below.
From the November 11th 1948 issue of Fashion Trade Weekly.
My question now has to be, who remembers Renee Shaw? I am sure there must still be a fair few people around who once frequented the shop. For reference (and anyone who knows Sutton today) Renee Shaw occupied the white part (can’t think of a better way to put it!) of Lloyds bank.