Carnaby Street. As that great song by TheJam put it, “It ain’t what it used to be”. Think of a major global fashion retailer and odds are they’ve got a proudly brick and mortar presence, possibly even a flagship store, situated along this stylish Soho street that found initial fame during the heyday of London‘s swinging sixties.
Perhaps in an attempt to tap into Carnaby’s spirit of free love and peace, a new and decidedly non-retail space has opened where you can “pick up a book, relax in an armchair and explore the vast expanses of fashion, travel, music, photography, design and history, to name but a few topics. You are able to leave a book that you have read, and in return take one away from the space for free”.
Yes, it’s the Carnaby Book Exchange, where an oasis of give and take philosophy beckons shoppers in search of somewhere comfortable to get off their feet for a few minutes. The cool thing is it’s free, it’s non- commercial and you might even find something good to read while you’re there.
The project has been curated by the MA Fashion Curation students at London College of Fashion. Located in Kingly Court just off Carnaby Street, you can even share your thoughts and recommendations on the book you are leaving behind, with the swapping concept not only involving the sharing of books, but also the sharing of memories.
The idea behind the book exchange is to highlight the fact that there are in excess of 130 million books in the world, with the average person reading one book per week. And, as Carnaby Street is world renowned for being an incubator for fashion, music and so called “style-tribes”, the students behind the project hope it will also “serve as an incubator for a passion shared, at what will possibly be London’s most diverse book club”.
The Carnaby Book Exchange is located with Kingly Court just off Carnaby Street. It’s a ground floor “shop” with a few comfy seats, big windows and lots and lots of books! And it truly is a refreshing place to visit, whether as an alternative to or simply a short break from all the consumer activity of one of London’s more fashionable shopping quarters. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
Photo: Chris Osburn
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