Inside Johnson’s Kensington + King’s Road stores in the 80s

Johnson's King's Road 1986 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Manager Trudi Gartland, Johnson's, King's Road, Chelsea, 1986. Photograph: Haruko Minakami.//

Thanks are due to Derek Harris of Lewis Leathers for scans from 80s Japanese magazine London Ni Ikitai (I Want To Go To London) featuring the Johnson’s stores in Kensington Market and at 406 King’s Road, World’s End.

Johnson's King's Road 1983 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//London Ni Ikitai, 1983.//

Johnson's King's Road 1983 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Staff member Antoine Mills talks to The Clash drummer Pete Howard (on bike) outside 406 King's Road, 1983.//

Johnson's King's Road 1983 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//From left: Staff members Dave Parsons (future bassist Transvision Vamp + Bush), Antoine Mills and Steve Prendergast, King's Road, 1983.//

Johnson's King's Road 1983 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Suit and shirt racking, 1983.//

Johnson's King's Road 1983 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Mannequins, 1983.//

Researched, written and photographed by music/style journalist Haruko Minakami, these bring back many memories of Lloyd Johnson and Peter Boutwood’s outlets (which are being celebrated as part of the exhibition Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter).

Johnson's King's Road 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//London Ni Ikitai, 1985.//

Johnson's King's Road 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Antoine Mills, Johnson's The Modern Outfitters, 1985.//

Johnson's King's Road 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Mills with Vicky Sheppard, 1985.//

Johnson's King's Road 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Japanese visitors at entrance, 1985.//

Johnson's King's Road 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Western shirt (left) and proud shopper outside Chelsea Conservative Club, 428 King's Road, 1985.//

Johnson's Kensington Market 1985 from Ni Ikitai London

//London Ni Ikitai (with feature on neighbouring Kensington Market shop Western Styling on right), 1985.//

Johnson's Kensington Market 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Johnny Graham outside Kensington Market entrance (which has been recreated for the current Lloyd Johnson exhibition), 1985.//

Johnson's Kensington Market 1985 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Shoe display, Kensington, 1985.//

Kensington Market exterior 1986 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Main entrance, Kensington Market, 1985.//

THE LOOK features Johnson’s extensively, and we’ve investigated various aspects of the label’s importance to rock and pop fashion here and here.

Johnson's King's Road 1986 - interior (from Ni Ikitai London)

//London Ni Ikitai, 1986.//

Johnson's King's Road 1986 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Leather Levi's-style jacket, 1986.//

Johnson's King's Road 1986 (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Basement shoe department King's Road, 1986.//

Johnson's King's Road 1986 - interior (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Ground floor central table display with shoe and suit racking, 1986.//

Johnson's King's Road 1986 - interior (from Ni Ikitai London)

//Left: Shoe racking detail/Right: Leather La Rocka! skirts.//

Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter is on until March 3. Chelsea Space is open Tuesday – Saturday.

More details here.

All photography Haruko Minakami. Thanks again to Derek Harris. Visit Lewis Leathers site here.

Brendan said,

February 10, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

I remember going to the Ken Market store, around the time of the riots in Brixton. I actually got a bus , No19 i think from Battersea, without any shoes on so i could buy a pair to wear home ?? Youth .. hey !

rockpopfashion said,

March 3, 2012 @ 7:33 am

Them were the days! Which ones did you get?

DJ punk said,

March 5, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

Used to go to Johnsons on the Kings Road about 80 – 81? It was just around the corner from Seditionaries where i used to buy the odd thing or two in the 70’s. I bought a great pair of pegs from Robot (when they had the really small skinny shop at the bottom of Kings Road opp a chinese place called Ho Lee Foks – honest) & i ended up buying 13 pairs of different Robot shoes, boots & creepers. Kings Rd late 70’s & early 80’s def had the best “youth” fashion shops Boy, Flip, Gear Market etc Johnsons had some amazing pegs, suits & shirts – a few of which i bought. I remember Huggy Lever from the Mod band the Teenbeats working in there? He saved my life once in Hastings April 1979 – got me in on the guest list for UK Subs & Teenbeats on Hastings Pier cos i had run away from home – ha! The ken market Johnsons was in a great spot. My GF still has some t-shirts from there.I’ve looked around but can’t seem to find anyone making / selling that kind of stuff anymore – anyone got any good links / suggestions for “retro” clothing?

Jann Kempton said,

March 10, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

Hey-old friends of Dave Fortune of the Robot shop on Kings Road-please give him my email address or send his to me-Thank you!

Dave White said,

June 8, 2012 @ 2:28 am

The Flamin’ Groovies turned me on to Johnson’s. I got their polka dot and striped shirts, and a black vlvet sports coat.

Michelle Coomber said,

July 9, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

Trudi worked with me in Che Guevara in the mid-70s then left to work at Johnson’s in Ken Market, I used to pop over and see at her lunchtimes. I think her brother worked with her. Nice to see she wnet on to manage the Kings road shop. Lovely girl with great style.

paul gale said,

July 20, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

I use to spend loans in Johnson during the 80’s to be honest I still have a number of items in the loft

Stewart said,

July 29, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

I just picked up a beautiful Men’s leather jacket, the inside label reads Kenmarket Leather made in London. What or where is this? It is almost brand new. I can’t find anything about it. THANKS!

Mike Barton said,

December 15, 2012 @ 5:24 am

Nostalgia! I had an entire wardrobe from there. Some still hanging there now… Unworn but still loved….

R. Powell said,

June 20, 2013 @ 11:45 am

Hi there To everyone out there who might be reading this !….

I am trying to find some info on fabrics that were used for making clothes in the 1970’s..GLAM era… and who were the clothes designers who made these wonderful check, striped and shiny glittery garments and which boutiques sold them …? anyone out there who can share any memories and information of those days would be really appreciated…please get in touch ! Also…is there anyone out there remembers or knows anything about a clothes design and alterations/fabric trader who was trading from and based on a stall in the Kensington market in the early 70’s ?
Any info would be appreciated.. email me at:

Thank you….hope to hear from you soon !


Ker Milan said,

July 29, 2014 @ 12:56 am

Please bring back ROBOT SHOES, they were the coolist ever, PLEASE!

Stevenyc said,

September 18, 2014 @ 10:58 am

Hey Rob. Thing about the glam period is that we were just kids and didn’t have any money so we were just creative. I remember glueing pink sequins all over a pair of all star sneakers because I saw the colour pink on Cover of Roxy Musics 1st album. Also raiding my granny’s closet for gold larmay bolero jackets. Cause there were lots around in them days. And fox furs or corse. Every ones gran had one.. But the place to go for ready made was Kennsington market. You could buy loons. Really wide bell bottoms printed with stars or beautiful sating trousers. And of corse platform shoes. There was a guy there and one in great gear market on kings rd that would make any design stars fried eggs and put as many soles on as you wanted. Most of the shirts. Alit of patchwork also from Kenny market. There was also BIBA in Kensington and MR feedom. Really fab stuff massive buttons Satin etc but was girls only I think. But like waing into a cartoon

The worsted part of the 70s is shirts were cut really tight even there arm holes. As the fabrics were mostly from India they were often natural dyes. It wasn’t usual for guys to wear deoderant or anti perspirant. So a lot of cloths would have white or yellow underarms where sweat had bleached out the color. I know sounds bad but that’s how it was..hope that helps. All the best steve

Anonymous said,

October 25, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

Is Johnsons still open today.

Tony E said,

November 29, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

I spent lots of time (and probably too much money) in both stores, loved their outfits and my flying jacket stayed with me for years despite being stolen and recovered twice! Great article that brought back good memories, thanks.

Mikaela said,

August 6, 2016 @ 8:21 pm

Hello! I’m trying to get in touch with an old friend, Jerry, who used to work in both shops in early/mid 90’s…
He is American and a musician (Zodiac Mindwarp) and I think he moved back to LA a long time ago. It would be lovely to get in touch with him so if anyone has any ideas where I can reach him, let me know! Mikaela

rockpopfashion said,

December 7, 2016 @ 5:37 pm

Try contacting the LaRocka/Johnson’s Facebook page Mikaela

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