James Smith & Sons is one of the most visually striking of London’s traditional shops. In the niche market of superior quality umbrellas, the store is unrivalled thanks to its lovingly crafted products, all built to last. This charming shop opened in 1830 and its original Victorian fittings are still intact.
To say that it sticks out like a sore thumb would be an understatement, but it’s impossible to imagine New Oxford Street without it. Alongside the expected traditional brollies (such as a classic City umbrella with a hickory crook), there are high-tech folding models and sun parasols – including a dainty beechwood-handled number that’s designed for weddings.
Walking sticks and canes are the shop’s other speciality, each one cut to the correct length for the customer. Furthermore, if you buy an umbrella here and the elements do get the better of it, James Smith has a repairs service to put it right again. The shop’s staff are clearly proud to be carrying on a brand with such a long history.
James Smith & Sons is number 59 in our list of the 100 best shops in London.