Besides being a great name for a store, I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet is largely credited with popularizing the wear of old military uniforms for fashion during the 60’s and was where Jimi Hendrix and a number of other rockers purchased their iconic jackets.
Lord Kitchener’s sold racks of tunics, there were boas, those old fox stoles, second hand fur coats, pith helmets, Victorian dresses, bits of Victorian furniture, general junk, some good and some bad. Some people liked wearing secondhand clothes but at first it wasn’t that busy. Then, over a period of time, clothes started to take over from the furniture. Eric Clapton was the first one to buy a military jacket early in 1966 when Cream’s first album came out.
I’m sitting there one morning and in walked John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Cynthia Lennon. And I didn’t know whether I was hallucinating… but it was real. And Mick Jagger bought a red Grenadier guardsman drummer’s jacket, probably for about £4-5. They all came from Moss Bros and British Army Surplus. In 1966 it was only fifty or so years from Victorian times, when we had an empire. We used to buy fur coats by the bale… we had to throw quite a lot away.
So Mick Jagger bought this tunic and wore it on Ready Steady Go when the Stones closed the show by performing Paint it Black. The next morning there was a line of about 100 people wanting to buy this tunic… and we sold everything in the shop by lunchtime.
And from a youtube video:
“Footage showing the London fashion movement that took place in the late 60s at “I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet”. Brian Jones was regarded as a fashion icon due to his rebellious and flamboyant style. His style of dress and manner did much to influence the fashion scene of swinging 1960s London. Including footage of Jimi Hendrix playing Like A Rolling Stone and Stone Free, in Chelmsford, England, February 25, 1967.”
An old print article, published in February 1967.