This week I’m featuring on my blog one of the oldest independent stores in the heart of Chelsea, London – Wilde Ones. This store houses the largest collection of Native American jewellery and interiors in the UK – sourcing directly from Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Yaquima, Apache and Sioux artists. A store that is unique indeed and I caught up recently with founder Greg to find out more… Hi Greg and welcome 😊
Hello! I’m Greg Ohanian, founder and owner of Wilde Ones, Chelsea, London, UK.
What inspired the setting up of Wilde Ones?
Having just come out of fashion college, I had an idea which took off. The idea was to create a range of hats with feather trim and without. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the world music and ethnic fashion scenes were just emerging, yet there were no such accessories to fit the look. We introduced a silk embroidered skullcap which we sold from Browns, Liberties and Harrods, to shops in Europe and department stores in the USA. That’s how Wilde Ones started in 1987. Eventually we sold all the way to Top Shop. We also did trade shows like The London based British Designer Show. Originally we started off at the famous Blue Bird Fashion Market on The Kings Road, then we moved to our present premises and expanded into crystals, gemstone jewellery and Native American artefacts and jewellery.
I’m always interested in the origins of brand names, so why did you settle for “Wilde Ones” and were there other name considerations?
The name started off simply because one of the owners’ surname was Wilde but we also liked the fact that we were in Chelsea, the home of Oscar Wilde. It was really a combination of things which brought about the name.
Your company has the largest UK collection of Native American jewellery and interiors. Are there differences in style, subtle or otherwise, between the artists of different Native American groups?
Indeed, each tribe and region distinguishes itself with its own style and design. We’re lucky to have established strong relationships with amazing artists from the Zuni, Navajo, Hopi, Sioux, Apache, Acoma, Santo Domingo, Taos Pueblo, Yaquima and Huichol People. For example, Zuni artists specialise in inlay work, Santa Domingo in graded bead necklaces, Yaquima in feather earrings, etc.
I love the range of jewellery, obviously, but my personal favourites are the Native American Acoma Pottery. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
Those Acoma pots are truly stunning. Interiors have their ebbs and flows like all the other myriad items in the shop. This season it’s the handmade tie-dye clothing which we has been selling from day one. All the major designers are onto it but they have a hard time copying our designs because we have an artist designer friend in San Francisco, CA, who has been supplying us exclusively for the past 28 years and his skill is second to none. He produces a wide range of t-shirts, shirts, dresses, camisoles, trousers, sarongs, socks, in silk and cotton. This year the tie-dye hats are proving especially popular as they’re a new item as well as the silk velvet capes. We are also introducing a new line of hemp t-shirts because we feel hemp is a much more sustainable fabric and want to promote its use.
Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?
That would be like picking your favourite child! We love them all equally. Personally, I’m a Navajo rug addict and they’re one of my favourite things. We currently have around 200 unique antique pieces, carded, spun, woven and dyed by hand between 1880 and 1950. They’re very special.
As you are based in the heart of Chelsea in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?
Yes, our products are available on our website www.wildeones.com and we ship worldwide.
When choosing jewellery/pottery/clothing to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?
It’s definitely a combination of those. When I’m buying I choose for our long time loyal customers to add to their extensive collections. People often come in and say over time they’ve filled their homes with our products. Or that they have most of our jewellery and that I need to go get some more.
Looking ahead, are you looking at adding any new designs or products to your current collections?
I’m always looking to add to our collections and so I keep having to travel further and deeper into uncharted territories. You never know what you’ll find next. Lately I’ve been going to the Huichol tribe in Mexico. They create the most beautiful animal sculptures with incredibly intricate beadwork.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Aside from our own tie-dye clothing I’m very happy wearing Element clothing from California and Clarke’s Originals shoes. I also love to wear and collect vintage clothing.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
The Cloth Shop in Soho and The Vintage Shop in Covent Garden.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I want hemp clothes and hemp shoes and all items made of hemp. Hemp products are the future so we should encourage the use of this wonder plant.
Boots or Shoes?
Clarkes Originals. In between boots and shoes and just very comfortable.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Wilde Ones.
Official website: www.wildeones.com
Facebook page: Wilde Ones Shop https://www.facebook.com/wildeonesshop/ Instagram: @wildeoneslondon https://www.instagram.com/ Twitter: @wildeoneslondon = https://twitter.com/wildeoneslondon
Thank you Greg for giving us a virtual tour of the “Wilde Ones”. I must say that the Mexican animal sculptures sound like an interesting addition to your already impressive range. Are you ready to delve into the wild side and check out this store, dear reader?
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Wilde Ones.
Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.