For Alaskans, it’s snow shoes. For Floridians, it’s sunscreen. For Londoners, it’s umbrellas, the protective barrier essential to shielding us from the climatic temperament of our respective region (i.e. random bursts of torrential rains and the seemingly never-ending “rainy” reason). In a city where rain is practically part of the culture, the need for a proper umbrella echoes the old American Express motto “Don’t leave home without it”. For those “in-the-know”, the modernized version of that slogan would be reconfigured to read “Don’t leave home without your James Smith umbrella”.
A permanent fixture in London since 1830, James Smith and Sons are the masterful purveyors of the brolly (British lexicon for umbrella). Sounds simple really, creating an umbrella, but it’s a craft and art few have been able to master quite like Mr. Smith. The scientific research employed and the individually designed products cement the shop as an iconic symbol of British heritage imbued with decades of passion and love for the country’s most important accessory. Think what Ford was to cars or what Rockefeller was to oil, James Smith was to umbrellas, a pioneer and establishment that has shaped the brolly-making process ever since.
The selection is surprisingly vast, the staff are extraordinarily friendly and knowledgeable and the shop itself is remarkably unchanged since its inception. Like a time capsule into the 19th century, the boutique exudes the memory and legacy of James Smith by staying true to traditional designs. Women’s umbrellas range from the frilly sun bathing feminine silhouettes to dainty, but functional everyday wear, while the male counterparts offer more sporty options as well as classic and sleek styles. Expanding on the range of products, there are walking canes and sticks as well as seat sticks. Although it’ll cost a small fortune to purchase one, a James Smith and Sons umbrella is one of life’s little luxuries and perhaps the only time in life you’ll be pleased feeling left high and dry.
53 New Oxford Street