For years, London’s coolest store has been housed in a few pieces of tarpaulin held up by rusty metal poles next to a fruit and veg stall. Founded by Milo Harley and Ned Membery, Duke’s Cupboard has quickly become the capital’s most renowned vintage stall thanks to impeccable editing and an approachable attitude to fashion with a good sense of humour and an even better eye for a gem.
Based down the super trendy Berwick Street Market, Duke’s is a dream for anyone with even a passing interest in style, selling everything from old school one-off Stone Island pieces to ‘90s Supreme rarities – all for a decent price – and just a short walk (like, literally one minute) away from the latter’s extremely popular store.
With sportswear going from strength to strength and after a handful of successful pop-ups across London and a collaboration with LA’s Round Two Store, Duke’s Cupboard is upping its sticks and shifting around the corner to open an actual shop of its own.
Ahead of the opening, we caught up with the pair to chat about clobber, what kind of gear influences them, and how they’ve both used social media to create one of the most exciting stores in the world.
So how did Duke’s begin?
MH: It was 2012 and I’d just finished university. I had no money, no job, but loads of decent Polo gear. I’d been collecting it since I was sixteen, and my dad said I should start flogging it, so I did down Berwick Street [in Soho]. It was just a bit of extra cash to go out on the weekends to begin with.
Then I met Ned who was doing the same thing, but down Portobello Market. One day we hooked up to swap jackets and we got chatting and it kinda went from there. So in 2012, we set up together down Berwick Street as Duke’s Cupboard and started selling random bits from our own collections and that.
You mention collecting Polo when you were younger, is this how it all began for you?
MH: Growing up London we’ve always been surrounded by different cultures who all wore different gear. Skaters, drum and bass, hip hop – all that stuff that was big in our teen years, so that’s always influenced us.
NM: I think it was American fashion from the ‘90s that got to me the most, New York especially. People like Wu Tang Clan, Mos Def, Tribe Called Quest, Nas, you know... I think that’s shown a lot in some of the pieces we sell, we are both keeping things pretty classic and simple still. Also a lot of UK stuff has had a big say, too, old jungle raves, MC Shabba and MC Debt, all that kind of stuff when we were in our teens. There’s inspiration everywhere.
How did this become your job? Do you think social media has played a big part?
MH: Since me and Ned got together it’s grown loads. It’s mad really. We didn’t have a website for the first few years, but since we have, it’s kicked right on. Instagram has helped us a lot, we’ve got about 17.5k followers, which is great. As much as I enjoyed running the stall and chatting to our customers about what they’re into and that, it’s time we moved on and got ourselves a new home.
We’ve done a load of pop-up shops all over London over the last few years and worked with mega people, like Round Two from the US. All of this was kind of a sign that it was time for us to get our own shop, and Soho is a huge part of our identity, so it seemed like the ideal location.
What kind of clothing do you look for?
NM: We are always looking for cool stuff, that’s the beauty of this whole thing. It can be online, other markets, private sellers, anywhere: We've travelled to Italy and America to buy stock a few times, but it's not easy at all. The thing about Stone Island and Polo is that they’re both so classic and so iconic, they’ll get snapped up if we aren’t quick, you know?
To be honest a lot of modern streetwear brands like the Supreme, Palace, Patta, they go to these old brands for inspiration too, I see a lot of Polo influencing so many brands today, so it’s not even just the public we’re up against when we’re looking for decent gear.
MH: We follow trends closely and because we've both grown up in London we know certain places and people to speak to. We can see what people are into as the time changes and we try and find the iconic pieces of clothing that you don't really come across twice. I think that’s what makes us unique.
What is it about these brands that hooks you?
MH: Stoney is really clever and innovative with its fabrics and designs. They’re proper original especially pre-2000 - like in the 1980s - is really classic and just great to wear with a great shape. We are really into old North Face, Burberry, Moschino, Prada and all that. Some of the more high-end brands that were really popular in the ‘90s. We are into things that tell stories.
You said you keep up with trends and that, what do you reckon is up next?
MH: Probably more customisation of clothes and more mad sportswear being accepted into the fashion world. Also things like 1980s copies of high-end brands with mega logos seem to be becoming quite popular again – but it can change so dramatically, the world changes quickly!
NM: That’s why it’s good we can always rely on brands like Stone Island, Moschino and Versace, they’re always going to sell well, but I thought that about Polo too which seems to be a bit of an acquired taste these days, so who knows?
Duke’s Cupboard’s new shop opens 1st June at 7 Greens Court, Soho, W1F 0HQ.
(Main Image: Sam Pollard for Duke’s Cupboard)