Because there’s no place quite like the Great British high street – from its niche independents, to seasonal Pop-Ups and those expansive yet elegant department stores – Because Magazine is on a mission to champion the bricks-and-mortar of London in all its glory. Each week, we’ll beeline to the rails of our favourite retailers to scope out the must-have pieces and in-store exclusives that are more than worth making an effort for. This week, we're in Chelsea to have a look around Blaiz Boutique.

“Nothing is ever good enough, especially in such a competitive landscape,” asserts Stephanie Mordehachvili, the founder of Blaiz, whilst perched in a plush pink chair and gesturing around her store accented with palm fronds and tropical flowers. 

Under Mordehachvili’s direction, it was renovated and opened in early 2018 as a concept store focused on Latin American fashion. Formerly working in finance as a retail investor, she clearly has a pragmatism not belied by her easy manner and immaculate clothes: “We do a lot of initiatives here. It doesn’t appear that way, it looks like a fashion store, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes.”

It was during a trip to Brazil in 2014 with her now-husband that initiated what has since become Blaiz. Mordehachvili began noticing the clothing and “I just knew,” she explains, “that these brands, for whatever reason, were not in Europe, in Paris or London, so I started investigating, getting under the hood of the designer landscape in Rio, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais.”

In 2015, Blaiz began as a showroom with buyers from around Europe coming to look at the collections she curated. The showroom became pop ups and the pop ups became a permanent store on Kings Road in Chelsea. Her passion in the search for the best Latin American pieces and designers grew, as did the number of trips, beginning in Brazil, before expanding to include Colombia, Peru and Mexico.

“If you don’t make those trips out there you then just get stuck with the ones that have already come [... to Paris]. And that’s not really a find. The brands that we do find are real partners for us and we really respect them.”

Mordehachvili’s personal favourites in the store include, fittingly, the copper knitted midi dress she herself is wearing. “I love it! The brand is called Hera Concept and was created by two sisters who are so feminine and kind. They only employ women, other female artisans in Peru, and they use the finest fabrics, beautiful, beautiful alpaca blends.” The collection of wool overcoats, capes and dresses in neutral shades, soft browns, light caramels and creams, hang from a small rail  along the back wall. “They are very ethical, very fair and their pieces are just absolutely timeless. All the proceeds then go back to solving infertility. They are just so fantastically female.”

She speeds up. “Then,” she continues, “we’ve got a company that I am in absolute admiration of. They were a family business and although they expanded into a global entity they kept that family identity at their core. And that’s Schutz, it’s in the Arezzo group, who started in the south of Brazil. They were importing leather from Argentina and built this business. They are now the largest footwear designers in Latin America. And they do really beautiful, very contemporary shoes and boots.”

"And these," Mordehachvili says, pointing to a row of brightly coloured woven clutches and bags, "are actually made in Mexican prisons. Often these prisoners had been the primary earner and many of them were just stealing to help their families. So, their families are in a slightly precarious state and what happens is they are able to come and spend time with the prisoners and weave these bags together. It brings the family together and helps them make an income. And it helps them kind of move on. They’re producing and they are very skilled. It’s mostly the men who do the making, because it’s recycled plastic raffia and it takes a lot of strength. I just love everything in here, but those would be my favourites!”

For her, it is the unexpectedness in the designers’ work that she looks for when choosing the pieces in her store. “They really let it breathe. There are no boundaries. I’ve lived in London my whole life and it used to be very stuffy. There would not have been an appetite for any of this say 10 or 15 years ago - there has been a big shift and the landscape is still moving.

Blaiz Boutique is located on 227-229 King's Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 5EJ.

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