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|1967 - Lloyd Johnson opened his first shop in Kensington Market named 'THE HEAVY METAL KIDS' selling velvet jeans and leather jackets. The shop was very small measuring 8' x 12'. From the outside it looked like a silver submarine, the entrance was an oval hole this was plugged and bolted at the end of each day. The interior was art nouveau style. The stock was housed in victorian furniture. This modest start attracted the more adventurous customers in The Kensington Market.
1968-1973 - We moved to a larger location within The Kensington market , built a shop with a classic shop front and renamed the shop 'COCKLE AND JOHNSON' est.1968.This was a tongue in cheek jab at the established menswear stores in Saville row and Jermyn Street (The establishment.) It had to be done, this was the 60s and we were young and having fun! This ploy paid off. We manufactured shirts,jackets,trousers & knitwear. Our clientele grew and business was fantastic. Customers at this time included Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Yes, Roxy Music, The Nice, Spooky Tooth, Gary Glitter, Argent, The Kinks, Dave Hockney, David Bailey, Tim Curry from The Rocky Horror Show, various record producers and A& R men. If you were in the music business and wanted the image you shopped at Kensington Market and Lloyd's shop was the leading light.
1973-1975 - This period in England was grim and very difficult for big & small businesses a like. The coalminers and garbage collectors strikes bought with them the introduction of the '3 DAY WEEK' Electricity was rationed. Factories could only work 3 days a week and in some cases closed down for good. Finding it hard to get goods made Lloyd renamed the shop 'JOHNSON & JOHNSON' and went into the vintage clothing business .At this time nobody was selling vintage menswear from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Lloyd had the pick of the crop and was quickly snapped up as the fashion magazines favorite place to find an original & unusual look. The shop was decorated in a suitable manner to reflect the vintage stock. Kitsch brick wall paper & newspapers from the 40s, 50s & 60s papered the walls and the clothing displays were a constant source of fun. Among our customers were the young soul boys now appearing in every corner of the country. Northern Soul was a growing scene and these kids wanted clothes that were different to the High street stores .At the same time Teddy Boys reappeared in London ,a cult that first appeared with the arrival of Rock n' Roll in the 50s.Lloyd had his share of both these opposing youth cults.
1974-1975 - We continued to sell vintage clothing and found more and more young customers buying and wearing the 40s & 50s vintage clothing. Seeing the supply of really top end stylish vintage clothing was drying up Lloyd started to manufacture again and searched the Midlands Mill towns for deadstock fabrics from the 40s, 50s & 60s. Nobody else was doing this! Repro Retro Clothing had arrived along with queues at the doors of JOHNSON & JOHNSON. Business was good again after the lean early 70s.
1975-1978 - Among the new clientele were some kids from Bromley, a suburb of London where David Bowie spent his early years at the Arts lab. Siouxsie, Billy Idol & Steve Severn were destined to be part of the biggest music explosion since the 60s and Beatlemania.
1978 - We opened the new shop 'Johnsons the Modern Outfitters ' at 406 Kings Road in Chelsea, an area that was very popular in the 60s. Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm Mclarren had opened a shop a few years earlier in the same area. Lloyd was making 40s 50s & 60s inspired clothing and was asked to make MOD clothing for the Who film Quadophenia. Sting & Phil Daniels the lead actor's clothes were made by Johnsons the Modern outfitters and news quickly spread by word of mouth. The décor appeared to be that of a classic Victorian Mens outfitters first glance BUT! when you went into the basement of the shop it was a different matter!!! The basement was grey dry brushed in two tones of grey .Fake cobwebs were sprayed hanging from the ceiling and an Erie Victorian barbers chair stood in the corner for those who dared to try on the footwear which was pure ROCK N' ROLL! The chair became a big attraction because of the story of 'SWEENY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET'. A lot of new bands were being formed and the over spill from the New York clubs MAX'S KANSAS CITY and CBGB'S were moving to London. It was a happening place again. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers , Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Stiv Bators & many more arrived to combat the music establishment, reinforcements for The Sexpistols and The Clash, who were the new generation of British punk rockers claiming the rock n roll high ground. They were all LA ROCKA! Customers .
1979 - At this time because of our involvment with Quadrophenia we were being labeled as a 'MOD SHOP'. Not wanting to be limited in this way it was decided to start a ROCK N' ROLL label/brand, 'LA ROCKA!' was born .A small range of black leather jackets, leather jeans, black cotton jeans, jean jackets & biker boots were added to the constantly changing stock. It was unbelievable, the queues at the doors of both shops grew and grew. When the stock was deliver it was sold out instantly. The clientele list read like 'THE WHO'S WHO OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS'. The new range of rocker styles along with the new label LA ROCKA! Were a huge hit…we were really please because we didn't want to be know only as a MOD shop .WE WERE A ROLL N' ROLL SHOP!! If we were to be labelled that was the label!
1978-1990 - We now spanned three decades of Rock/entertainment icons among our clientele from Jerry Lee Lewis, Terry Dene ,Billy Fury, Joe Brown,The Specials, Madness, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, The Cramps, Paul & Linda McCartney, Marianne Faithful, Sparks, Eddie Kidd, David Bowie, Hall & Oates, Blondie, Ringo & his son Zak, The Stray Cats, Jack Nicholson ,Adam & The Ants, The Sexpistols, The Clash, The Specials, Chelsea, ,Johnny Halliday (The top French rock n' roll star), The Scorpions (Top German Rock band) Tom Waits ( see 'Down by law' film), Dave Edmunds, Chris Spedding, Rupert Everett, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Paul Gaultier,Paul Smith, John Galliano, The Boomtown Rats, Robert Plant & the guys from Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Chris Issacs ,Steve Strange, Frankie Goes To Hollywood ,Marc Almond from Soft Cell ,Anthony Perkins ,Billy Conelly & Tina Turner to name a few. The new shop established we decided to expand and redecorate our shop in Kensington Market. The décor would be spooky & very Rock n' Roll. The changing rooms were shaped like coffins, a lot of fake marble was used a long with purple crushed velvet and a church door was hung at the entrance. Several years latter this style would be come known as 'GOTH' and one of our customers became known as ' THE QUEEN OF GOTH' Siouxsie wanted to shake that label and asked to be photographed in the new range of La Rocka! Clothing. This range was based on the war in the Pacific & made use of both Japanese and American images .The cover of 'THE FACE' was stunning and bought with it a host of new customers .We expanded the range to include the girlfriends of our male customers. WE HAD BECOME A CULT! People working for us were forming bands and were finding success in the world of music..Billy Duffy (The Cult) and David Parsons (Bush) both bands have become very big names worldwide. Every year we would have a New Years Eve Party for our staff and customers the LA ROCKA! Label's loyalty was cemented in FUN! our loyal pop/rockstar clientele would play for free and we would give the money raise to The MS charity…Madness, The Stray Cats, members of The Pretenders,, The Flying Padavarnis, Marie Wilson & Wilsonaires were amongst those that did us proud…The Rolling Stones came to see The Stray cats and booked them as support for their forthcoming tour.
We added more rocker inspired items to the already substantial La Rocka! Range…printed shirts ,tattoo knits,skull & crossbone knits, mohair sweaters ,heavy weight sweaters and some more leather jackets….BUT with a difference!….we printed , painted and studded the jackets…the customers loved them ..George Micheal ,Alice Cooper, Dave Stewart & Annie Lennox all bought them….George Micheal used both of his jackets in his videos with Aretha Franklin….success again!!!! I had this mad desired to do a gold biker outfit to celebrate …guess it was Elvis's gold suit playing on my mind! Once again instant success!!…..though this time it was Lux Interior from The Cramps that bought the first outfit…..gold boots, gold leather jeans and gold leather jacket he looked amazing!!!! . The fashion editor of The Face magazine was ecstatic when he saw the outfit. We got the front cover and four pages inside dedicated to the outfit…So I thought why not do silver as well! A similar thing happened , we got a phone call from Vogue could they photograph Liza Minelli in the silver jacket for the cover of Vogue?
We continued with the best rocker items of the La Rocka! Range and expanded the Larocka! Brand to included wild velvet suits, fake fur coats and a huge variety of shirts in fantastic French & Italian fabrics but all the time staying true to our 'ROCK N' ROLL ROOTS' the footwear was 70s inspired at this time…..TAKE THAT ( Robbie Williams was a member see the video ) the first huge British boy band bought the fur coats along with other items and used them in their video….OASIS also bought the fur coats…the new LaRocka! Items were established…
SOURCE - www.secretingredientltd.co.uk/Larocka/history/index.html