When Sutton was fashionable…sort of

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.


renee shaw


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.

13 thoughts on “When Sutton was fashionable…sort of

  1. I was a window dresser at Shinners and one lunch hour I went into Renee Shaw and brought a lace Victorian style dress to wear as a wedding dress . This was in 1974 I remember the owner was a very smart looking older lady with white hair pinned up. My dress which I still have cost me under £20 a lot cheaper than some wedding dresses now I think the shop shortened it for me .

  2. I remember it well.My Aunt & my cousin would often shop there because it was good quality,stylish fashion.We also had Shinners,The coffee grinding shop & the lovely old arcade.

  3. Hello! so good that you are researching Renee Shaw, one of my favourite dress shops in Sutton. I lived in Wandle Rd, Morden and used to shop in Sutton as a teenager. I remember very well buying a navy blue Peter Pan collar coat with gold buttons and my mum lending me the money to pay for it when I was 17. Also I had a white lace long sleeved shirt dress very short, which I wore lots. I am 63 now so it is a long time ago in the 60s that I shopped there and I was quite upset when it closed. It I’m sorry I can’t remember when that was. Perhaps a way forward is to go on school reunion websites like The willows girls school where I went as I am sure many of the girls who went there will remember better than me and schools in Sutton or Cheam. Good luck anyway, best wishes Sue Reeves

  4. Renee shaw was my aunt. She and her shop were very smart. Sutton high street was great in those days. Who remembers Tony’s ice cream?

  5. As a young man I worked for Sambo, I knew all of the family, very well including Renee Shaw, her brother, her son etc.
    I knew most of the people you researched.
    If I can help, feel free to contact me.

  6. Geraldine lived in Sutton and went to school in Sutton loved fashion. Bought most of my clothes there . The shop was so stylish. The dresses were lovely . Always got so excited when l walked into shop. My last purchase was a very expensive glamorous white fur coat . In the late 70s before she closed . Still miss that shop it was unique. Loved the windows how they were dressed . Sutton is how very rundown unfortunately like many high streets throughout the country.

  7. Jill Mathews (Nee Gregory)
    My Mother worked for Renee Shaw in the 1960’s. She was in the alteration department. She loved it there, the good quality clothes, beautiful material on which to work, especially the silk dresses, and her fellow workers. The Manageress at the time was a Miss Smith. My Mother passed away in 1966 and when I was to be married in 1971 I went to Renee Shaw for my wedding dress. They had stopped selling wedding dresses at the time but had some sample dresses left. Miss Smith brought them all out and I tried them all on. The very last one was the one for me. The staff all came onto the shop floor to see it on and commented how well it fitted and how my Mother would have loved it. It made me feel there was a little bit of my Mother with me on the day.

    • What a lovely memory. Renee Shaw was my aunt. My father’s sister. I remember the shop well and had a summer job there in 1970.

  8. Yes, my mum mentioned Renee Shaw just today, until when I hadn’t known this is where my mum bought her wedding dress. My grandmother worked for Sam Sherman for 20 years to 1978. If you want me to put you in touch with my mum for more memories / information, she says she’ll be happy to hear from you.

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