Camera brand Leica’s new London premises offer more than meets the eye, as Lisa Williams reports
Certain brands don’t need footfall figures or passing trade. So confident are they of their product that they know the buyers will come to them. That’s why, when iconic camera brand Leica missed out on the chance to open a premises in Conduit Street in Soho, they weren’t too upset.
Instead, they opened a shop in Bruton Place, a quiet Mayfair road which is also home to the historic Guinea Grill and a Rupert Sanderson boutique. “It’s an odd little backwater but it’s very sweet. There’s a quirky little crowd here and also, it’s a destination,” says David Bell, Leica’s managing director.
The shop opened in 2009, attracting a mix of professional photographers, interested amateurs and even a coach-full of visiting tourists. And now they’ve just opened up an extension to the shop across the road. The newly refurbished building offers a light and lofty photography studio – which Bell hopes might become the go-to destination for discreet celebrity magazine shoots – a complimentary cafe for Leica owners, a camera rentals unit and a client care desk for lens cleaning, assistance with products and light repairs.
“You could say I’ve been inspired by Paul Smith in Floral Street, and I suppose I’ve been inspired by what they’re doing at Apple in Regent Street, but I want to go further and offer people that bit beyond,” he says.
The building’s launch has coincided with the unveiling of several new Leica products, including the Leica M Monochrom – the world’s first digital rangefinder camera for black and white photography – and two limited edition Leica M9-P customised by Hermes.
Bell says: “In my role I get governance sheets about waste disposal and I giggle to myself because no one ever throws a Leica away. We try to keep things rare, we don’t want to be everywhere and we don’t want to make obvious choices.”
Leica Store Mayfair
34 Bruton Place, W1J 6NR