Shoreditch’s recently opened men’s boutique Hostem is a stand-out stop for shoppers combing the streets of East London’s ever-burgeoning neighborhood. Proprietor James Brown sought to marry his favorite, though often disparate, sartorial aesthetics under one roof, yielding a selection of offerings that are both austere and artisanal.
From the tightly edited cadre of brands (Ann Demeulemeester, Casely-Hayford, Adam Kimmel) to Hostem’s JAMESPLUMB-conceived interiors, the store’s concept of elegant, intelligent design unifies the space and its contents. “So many cultures have influenced me from living in Umbria to Los Angeles,” Brown explains. “It was important my various experiences were reflected in Hostem.” It’s fitting, then, that the décor—Swedish linen curtains, hand-painted hessian wall panels and front desk-cum-former church pew—contributes a balancing sense of calm and quiet. That the shop takes its name from the Latin “audio hostem,” or “I hear the enemy,” further suggests Brown’s potential antagonists are anything too gaudy or trendy.
To that end, the shop eschews quotidian heritage brands and sleek surfaces. Formerly an arts industrial space, Hostem traffics in rustic-luxe, housing re-claimed or re-worked lamps, mirrors and screens among the high-end designer goods. Magazines, jewelry and bookshelves fill the space, as do Santa Maria Novella’s Melograno bath oil, Agatha Blois’ fragrances and Rick Owens’ sneakers, which are perched atop cement plinths. The bric-a-brac-heavy look thus approximates something akin to a collector’s emporium.
Said emporium is comprised of three conjoining rooms. The first, set against a neutral, chalky-hued backdrop, caters to Hostem basics like Damir Doma tees or Elder Statesman cashmere. The second, more intimate space (replete with low, swooping ceilings), houses niche, directional brands including the aforementioned Owens, Augusta and MA+. Finally, the third room functions as a sort of artist-in-residence showcase for visiting designers (the first being cult collaborator Dr. Romanelli’s Prescription Shoppe) with the goal of acquainting customers with heretofore unknown brands alongside their favorite progressive labels. Brown ultimately seeks to “cater to the myriad requirements of the modern consumer and the fact that no two retail experiences are ever the same.” By all accounts, it appears as though he’s well on his way.