Photo: Simon De Principe

Colenimo is a women’s clothing shop on Columbia Road, London. A fan of traditional fabrics, modern shapes and vintage details, Aya Nakagawa launched her brand, Colenimo, in 2008 after moving to London from Japan. For many years she wished for a physical space to show her designs and interact with customers. In 2015 she realized her dream opening her shop in a tiny 19th century workshop. In 2019 she moved her shop to London’s popular Columbia Road, home to Columbia Road Flower Market. Committed to manufacturing in the UK, Aya’s woven designs are made in a factory in North London, and leather goods in a small workshop in East London. Since opening last year word of mouth has spread, and Colenimo has a steadily growing loyal following amongst 20 to 40-year-old Londoners.

The Shopkeeper

Aya Nakagawa learnt her craft in Tokyo, studying fashion design and working as a designer there before moving to London. As a designer she was inspired by her customers to become a shopkeeper, wanting to learn first-hand how people react to her designs. She appreciates the face-to-face communication between the customer and designer/shopkeeper. Aya loves meeting her customers, chatting, seeing how they look in her clothes, and often making new friends. Colenimo has a loyal following in Japan, and Aya would also love to open a shop in Tokyo one day to be closer to her customers there. Closer to home, she admires England’s amazing shoe-making heritage, and hopes to design a collection of shoes in the near future.

On the Future of Retail

“I think in retail the majority will go with what is most convenient and least threatening. This is why we see the trend towards online shopping becoming so prevalent. I think as time goes on this trend will not really change.

It is our duty as shopkeepers to offer something extra, something that cannot be offered by digital means. Human contact and a friendly, interesting environment can create a more personal feeling and there will always be a type of customer who seeks this out.”

110a Columbia Road, London


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