Andrew Grune and Lui Nemeth may have met under the bright lights of Tokyo, but their boutique Primitive London is an entirely British proposition: exciting brands, upcoming designers and a DIY spirit. Oh, and it’s in a railway arch. Wonderland chats to Andrew about their new pop-up shop in Tokyo…

How and why did you start Primitive London?

We knew so many talented underground/emerging designers from London and Tokyo and wanted to create a space that we could invite them to exhibit and sell their work in. We found an amazing arch around the corner from our studio in Haggerston two years ago and couldn’t resist taking it because it was so cheap. Primitive started off as a gallery where we had installations, performances and music. Then we finally were able to change it into a boutique where we would sell our friends’ fashion designs.

How did you and Lui meet?

We met at a Louis Vuitton party on New Year’s Eve in 2009/10. I was living and working in Tokyo an English teacher and designing my jewellery line Torso Corso. Lui was studying at fine art at Central Saint Martins at the time was visiting her family from London. We both weren’t meant to be at that party so we met completely by chance. We haven’t been apart since!

How did the pop-up shop in Tokyo happen?

We were invited by Fake/Candy to open a pop up shop on their third floor, which is usually used as a gallery space and showroom. They’ve never done a pop-up shop there before, so it’s really exciting and we’re bringing them designers they and their customers have never seen- such as Joseph Nigoghossian, Nadir Tejani, Nano Aoshima, L_A_N

Where does the name Primitive London come from?

We think the name fits our approach to fashion and art – celebrating an undeveloped and ‘real’ attitude about what we like to do and wear. Primitive can also mean ‘beginnings’ and as this is our first project we thought it was a perfect name.

How do you pick your designers?

We meet a lot of designers through our friends and Riyo, Lui’s sister. They worked in cool fashion boutiques and met a lot of young designers and artists making DIY collections with nowhere to stock them. Our network’s grown since then by word of mouth.

Was it a conscious decision to only stock London and Japanese designers?

We decided to stock London and Japanese designers because we both have a strong connection and relationships with these two cities. All the designers have a similar energy and a raw, DIY attitude towards fashion.

Could you pick a few designers you stock you particularly love?

We like Nadir Tejani, he consistently sets himself a guideline of strict rules. For example, on one collection he will only pattern with one shape – like a rectangle- and then militantly follow the rules he’s created. It’s completely mad and the result is always really unique.

Are there any differences in style between Tokyo-ites and Londoners?

In Tokyo you can wear head to toe Cassette Playa, but you can’t really get away with that in London. London is more subdued and I guess young people have less money to spend on clothes. Style in London is created, whereas Tokyo it’s bought in stores.


Primitive London’s pop-up shop is open till April 30 at Fake Tokyo, 18-4 Udagawa cho, Shibuya ku, Tokyo 1500042.
Words: Zing Tsjeng