Berwick Street is synonymous with the fashion and textile industry. In the early 20th century the shops and stalls were popular with young working girls shopping for silk stockings and affordable ready-to-wear fashion.
In 'An Indiscreet Guide to Soho' Standly Jackson relates, 'Many of the people one sees in this district during the day disappear at nightfall.
Most of them are in the gown business, known as 'the rag trade'. Years ago Berwick Street was one long series of cheap dress shops, often referred to as guinea gown shops. On Saturdays people would come here from all parts of London and even the country to buy a snappy dress or two-piece suit in the latest style at half the price Oxford Street was asking.’
Borovick Fabrics on Berwick Street became famous in the 1970s, 80s and 90s for being the place to go for exotic fabrics such as furs, stretch satins, lames, sequins and lycra. Berwick Street became a destination for theatrical costume makers working in the West End at such diverse venues as the National Theatre, the Old Vic and Soho's Raymond Revue Bar.
Hat making equipment could be acquired in the myriad tunnels under nearby D’Arblay Street, pervaded by the pungent aroma of felt tstiffener, and served by brown overalled gentlemen reminiscent of the old style school caretaker.
Chris Kerr and his father, the legendary Eddie Kerr, have been making bespoke suits in their Berwick Street shop since the 1960s. Look up whilst walking along Berwick Street and you will see many traditional tailors at work above the shops and restaurants.
Berwick Street retains its identity as a destination for textiles with several colourful fabric shops and haberdasheries on the street today including Misan Fabrics, Textiles and Brothers, Borovic Fabrics, The Cloth House, Berwick Street Cloth Shop, Kleins and The Silk Society.