A window into the world of Boutiques by Shelter

Within a leafy corner of West London lies a different type of charity shop. Welcome to some of Shelter’s most stylish Boutiques; a collection of carefully curated shops selling designer, high-end high street, and vintage one-off finds at fabulous prices. At the heart of a loyal local community and catering to a discerning crowd, the boutiques at Turnham Green, Barnes and Wimbledon all have one more thing in common. Each one is known for its eye-catching and stylish window displays, carefully assembled by each shop’s dedicated manager and volunteer team. I visited the three shops earlier this month to find out more.

Turnham Green

A woman is measuring out decorative plants behind a shop window. The window is full of mannequins dressed in green clothing, artificial grass and plants.

I arrive at my first Boutique of the day to be greeted by Debbie, the shop manager, measuring out a length of decorative foliage. The shop, just a stone’s throw from Turnham Green tube station, is getting a makeover. It’s an unexpectedly warm February day today, the perfect time for an overhaul of the old seasonal décor and a look towards the spring days to come. Seasons are very important in deciding what to highlight, explains Debbie, with the aim to keep ahead of shopper trends and needs. The green themed window that Debbie is putting together this morning is joined by a ‘spring preview’ display further inside that showcases some of the best pieces for the upcoming brighter weather. Making use of props such as artificial turf, the foliage and other plants, leaves and flowers throughout the shop brings the whole theme together nicely.

Debbie tells me that she’ll often travel over to Westfield in Shepherds Bush for some inspiration for her window displays. Taking in the colours and merchandising trends of the shopping centre helps focus her creativity, but she’s also had some completely unique ideas such as the dress made of ties, and the mannequin-snowman that graced the windows in the last couple of years.


A shop window displaying evening dresses on mannequins next to strips of floral printed wallpaper.

Heading across the Thames to Barnes, I sense that spring really is in the air. I walk past a host of people enjoying the sunshine by the duckpond and spot crocuses growing on the green as I head towards the Boutique by Shelter. The window display here is an elegant take on the floral theme, showcasing evening dresses against a backdrop of wallpaper strips in sophisticated yet spring-like prints.

After meeting the manager, Chris, I ask him about his inspiration and discover that the locale is at the heart of this shop. There’s a real sense of community in this ‘London village’ and neighbours and residents have become loyal customers.

Barnes has a strong sense of identity and programme of local cultural events. Chris and his team make use of these as a springboard for some creativity when it comes to window dressing. This link in with local goings-on strikes conversations and fosters connections that can also result in some unexpected opportunities. Each March, Chris plans a themed window around Barnes Music Festival. This year is extra-special, however, as the festival gala marks ‘Legends of Barnes’, celebrating famed composers including Stephen Dodgson’s 100th anniversary. Chris hopes to include some of the local musician’s original items; only possible after a conversation with his great-niece who so happens to be a regular shopper at the boutique.  

A shelf displaying shoes and boots containing plants.

Chris also explains that the perception of the shop is important in this upmarket neighbourhood. He understands that potential stock donors need to know that their kind donations will be looked after and valued. The shop has a dedicated loyal donor base that appreciate their preloved items being presented as part of these stylish windows and quirky merchandising. One of the favourites was a display of shoes with plants growing from them, a nod to the eco-friendly nature of second-hand fashion.  In turn this attracts customers to the shop, and the sustainable fashion loop continues.


A double fronted shop window displaying floral dresses amongst brightly coloured decorative flowers.

My final stop of the day is the Boutique at Wimbledon village, where both the floral trend and the local focus are very much mirrored. Wimbledon has an equally supportive following of residents and sense of community. In fact, the flowers that adorn the colourful windows today were donated by a well-wishing customer specifically for this purpose. The shop manager, Simon, tells me that his windows are well-known around the area and loyal locals like to get involved, with many dropping by to compliment the latest display already.

Other past standouts include a space-themed Christmas window complete with mischievous elves and a tennis-themed window for the tournament of the summer (a collaboration with Chris from Barnes). The displayed racquet and clothing were even generously donated by professional tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas himself while he was in the area for the competition. Accompanying the imaginative window displays is an A-frame sign that is used by a very talented volunteer to depict timely campaigns, messages and events. Their drawings are always artistic, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek, with previous iterations including a healthy dose of puns and pop culture references. Check them out on the Boutique by Shelter Wimbledon village Instagram.

With my tour of the West London Boutiques coming to an end, I head home inspired by the creativity that I’ve seen on display, and full of the positivity of spring. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit to see the fantastic windows as well as picking up a sustainable and stylish bargain along the way.

A shop window containing space-themed decorations - paper sphere lampshades representing planets and sparkly and nmetallic clothing.  A blackboard sign with a chalk drawing of clothing made yup in a globe shape. Text reads 'Donate'.  A shop window displaying a mannequin wearing tennis whites and a tennis racquet. Artificial grass is laid on the floor with tennis balls on top.

Find out more and visit our Turnham Green, Barnes and Wimbledon boutiques or find your local shop here. To support us more, we’re also always looking for donations of high-quality stock and in need of volunteers.

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