Sex (boutique)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

LocationLondon, England
OwnerMalcolm McLaren
Vivienne Westwood

Sex (stylised SEX) was a boutique run by Vivienne Westwood and her then partner Malcolm McLaren at 430 King's Road, London between 1974 and 1976. It specialised in clothing that defined the look of the punk movement.[1]

Paradise Garage[edit]

From 1969 to 1970, No. 430 was the premises of Mr Freedom.

In October 1971, Malcolm McLaren and a friend from art school, Patrick Casey, opened a stall in the back of the Paradise Garage boutique at 430 King's Road[2] in London's Chelsea district. On sale were items collected by McLaren over the previous year, including rock & roll records, magazines, clothing and memorabilia from the 1950s.[3]

Let It Rock[edit]

Trevor Myles (who ran Paradise Garage), relinquished the entire premises to McLaren and Casey in November 1971. They renamed the shop Let It Rock with stock including second-hand and new Teddy Boy clothes designed by McLaren's school teacher girlfriend Vivienne Westwood.[4] The shop-front corrugated iron frontage was painted black with the name pasted in pink lettering. The interior was given period detail, such as "Odeon" wallpaper and Festival of Britain trinkets. Bespoke tailored drape jackets, skin-tight trousers and thick-soled "brothel creepers" shoes were the mainstays. Let It Rock was soon covered in the London Evening Standard.[citation needed]

Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die[edit]

In 1973 the outlet interior was changed and the shop was given a new name, Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die, to reflect a new range of clothing from Britain's early 1960s "rocker" fashions.[5] In the spring of 1974 the shop underwent another refurbishment[6] and was rebranded with the name Sex.


The façade[7] included a 4-foot (1.2 m) sign of pink foam rubber letters spelling "SEX".[8][9] The interior was covered with graffiti from the SCUM Manifesto and chickenwire. Rubber curtains covered the walls and red carpeting was installed.

SEX[10] sold fetish and bondage wear supplied by existing specialist labels such as Atomage, She-And-Me and London Leatherman as well as designs by McLaren and Westwood.[11] Jordan (Pamela Rooke) was a sales assistant.[12][13] Among customers at SEX were the four original members of Sex Pistols (the bass-player Glen Matlock was an employee as a sales assistant on Saturdays). The group's name was provided by McLaren in partial promotion of the boutique. In August 1975, nineteen-year-old John Lydon was persuaded to audition for the group by singing along to Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" on the jukebox. Other notable patrons included occasional assistant Chrissie Hynde,[14] Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni, Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin and the rest of the Bromley Contingent.

The store's designs confronted social and sexual taboos, and included T-shirts bearing images of the Cambridge Rapist's face hood,[15] semi-naked cowboys[7] from a 1969 illustration by the US artist Jim French,[16] trompe-l'œil bare breasts[17] by Rhode Island School of Design students Janusz and Laura Gottwald in the late 1960s,[16] and pornographic texts from the book School for Wives ("I groaned with a soft corrosion")[18][19][20] by the beat author Alexander Trocchi. Also featured were T-shirts[21] with the slogan 'Prick Up Your Ears',[22] a reference to the biography of influential proto-punk subversive Joe Orton, and text culled from the biography of Orton stating how cheap clothes suited him. Among the designs were clear plastic-pocketed jeans, zippered tops and the Anarchy shirt[23][24] which used dead stock from the 1960s manufacturer Wemblex.[25][26] These were bleached and dyed shirts and adorned with silk Karl Marx patches and anarchist slogans.[27][28][29][30][31]


In December 1976, 430 King's Road was renamed Seditionaries,[32][33] trading under that title until September 1980.[34] Designs were licensed by Westwood to the operators of the boutique at 153 King's Road, Boy (formerly Acme Attractions)[35] who issued them, some with alterations, over the next eight years.[36] Boy London was founded by Stephane Raynor[37] and Israel-based businessman John Krivine[38] in 1976 on the King's Road.[39][40] Krivine sold the company in 1984.[41]

World's End[edit]

World's End

In late 1980, the shop at 430 King's Road re-opened under the name World's End. The building was designed by McLaren and Westwood and realised by Roger Burton, aided by Jeremy Blackburn and Tony Devers, to resemble a mixture of the Olde Curiosity Shoppe and an 18th-century galleon. The façade was installed with a large clock which spun backwards with the floor raked at an angle. McLaren and Westwood launched the first of a series of collections[42] from the outlet at the beginning of 1981 and collaborated for a further three years. World's End remains open as part of Vivienne Westwood's global fashion empire.

Famous shop assistants[edit]

Many people related with the punk scene worked at the shop in one way or another. A notable employee was Jordan (Pamela Rooke), whose provocative dress sense served as a walking advertisement for the shop. At various times, Glen Matlock, Chrissie Hynde[7] and Sid Vicious also worked there.

Further reading[edit]

  • Albertine, Viv (25 November 2014). Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-250-06599-5. OCLC 1330344195.
  • Robb, John (15 December 2010). Punk Rock: An Oral History. PM Press. ISBN 9781604860054. OCLC 801388488.
  • Westwood, Vivienne; Kelly, Ian (9 October 2014). Vivienne Westwood. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4472-5413-3. OCLC 1028471285.
  • The Look: Adventures in rock & pop fashion by Paul Gorman. Publisher: London, Adelita Ltd, 2006 ISBN 978-0-9552017-0-7
  • England's Dreaming Sex Pistols and Punk Rock by Jon Savage. Publisher: London, Faber & Faber Ltd, 1991 ISBN 978-0-571-13975-0
  • Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon. Publisher: Picador, 1995 ISBN 0-312-11883-X
  • SEX & SEDITIONARIES: The incomplete sordid works of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren" by PunkPistol. Publisher: First Edition, 2006. ISBN 0-9554643-0-7
  • "DESTROY by PunkPistol. Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren: The destruction and deconstruction of punk clothing" by PunkPistol. Publisher: First Edition, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9554643-2-4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J.C. Maçek III (6 June 2013). "Fashionably Anti-Establishment: 'Punk: From Chaos to Couture'". PopMatters.
  2. ^ "Kings Road Archives – Flashbak". Flashbak. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Q&A: BOY London on Outfitting the Punk Movement". Rolling Stone. I started by selling Fifties clothing to him. – Stephane Raynor
  4. ^ "The Many Lives of Vivienne Westwood's Worlds End Shop". AnOther. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2022. Between 1971 and 1976, their boutique operated under the names, Let it Rock, Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, Sex and Seditionaries, before being reinvented as Worlds End in 1979, a title the store still holds today.
  5. ^ "1972 - 1979 | LET IT ROCK, SEDITIONARIES & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN". TheHistorialist. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  6. ^ "::THE LOOK – adventures in rock and pop fashion:: » The Politics Of Flash revisited". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Anarchy in the UK: A Brief History Of Punk Fashion". Marie Claire. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  8. ^ _black_acrylic (3 March 2014). "_Black_Acrylic: SEX". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Sex signage: Was McLaren inspired by Lubalin's cladding for the Georg Jensen flagship NY store?". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Chris Spedding: Unsung hero of Seventies style from Alkasura + Granny Takes A Trip to Let It Rock, Sex + Seditionaries". Paul Gorman is... Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  11. ^ Westwood, Vivienne; Kelly, Ian (9 October 2014). Vivienne Westwood. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 9781447254133. Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Drury, Colin (10 November 2017). "Jordan poses at Vivienne Westwood's SEX shop: 'I'm not sure why I lifted my top, but it felt right'". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  13. ^ "THE FILTH & THE FASHION – VIVIENNE WESTWOOD'S '70s SEX RAG REVOLUTION". 7 October 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Chrissie Hynde + Kate Simon in Malcolm McLaren's Sex Pistols Smoking Boy T-shirts". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  15. ^ "When Life Means Life – The Cambridge Rapist". 14 December 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  16. ^ a b "The origins of the Tits tee: Robert Watts + Products for Implosions Inc". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  17. ^ "::THE LOOK – adventures in rock and pop fashion:: » The strange and intriguing tale of the "tits tee"". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  18. ^ "When The Runaways guitarist Lita Ford raffled her McLaren/Westwood I Groaned With Pain t-shirt". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Only anarchists are pretty! Slogan in Fashion". Or Not Magazine. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Antidizionario della Moda". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Seditionaries – Prick Up Your Ears muslin". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Review: Subversive Design at Brighton Museum – re-appropriation, satire and sexual taboo to inspire and entertain (warning – this show asks "who killed Bambi" and challenges gender stereotypes)". 27 February 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  23. ^ Dazed (1 May 2013). "The Anarchy Shirt". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  24. ^ "The Shirt That Changed Everything Forever – Style Voyeur". 6 March 2016. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  25. ^ Strongman, Phil (12 April 2018). Pretty Vacant: A History of UK Punk. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781556527524. Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ "::THE LOOK – adventures in rock and pop fashion:: » Anarchy to Kanye: 30 years of Contemporary Wardrobe". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Only Anarchists Are Pretty: New Fragment x Peel + Lift Anarchy Shirt goes on sale as The Pool opens in Aoyoama". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  28. ^ Do It Yourself: Democracy and Design. Journal of Design History, Vol. 19, No. 1, (Spring, 2006), pp. 69–83
  29. ^ "V&A · Vivienne Westwood: punk, new romantic and beyond". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Hint Fashion Magazine – Hint Blog". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  31. ^ Rocktheworld. "rock the world: sex pistols". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  32. ^ "The Filth and the Fury: how punk changed everything". The Independent. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  33. ^ "jonsavage " 430 King's Road". 17 July 2014. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  34. ^ "Seditionaries Clothing Store – Punk Clothes – Sex Pistols – Vivienne Westwood – Punk t shirts". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  35. ^ "BOY on Boy action: Iconic 80s photos of Boy George modeling fashions from BOY London". 12 July 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  36. ^ "::THE LOOK – adventures in rock and pop fashion:: » Exclusive: McLaren and Punkpistol speak to THE LOOK". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  37. ^ "About Us Official Boy London website". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  38. ^ Agencies, News (5 May 2014). "Fashion brand's logo likened to Nazi eagle symbol". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 April 2018. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  39. ^ Limited, Selfridges. "Selfridges, London". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  40. ^ "BOY on Boy action: Iconic 80s photos of Boy George modeling fashions from BOY London". 12 July 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  41. ^ "Store withdraws Boy London clothing over 'Nazi' eagle logo complaints". The Independent. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  42. ^ "Of Pirates, Peacocks, and Punks – Unframed". Retrieved 12 April 2018.

External links[edit]

  • Only Anarchists Are Pretty (
  • Seditionaries Clothing designed by Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren c. 1976–1979. (Shockwave Flash) (
  • Punk Pirate 1981 Clothing line designed by Westwood and McLaren. (
  • Punk Pistol Seditionaries tribute site to clothing designed by Westwood & McLaren. (Shockwave Flash)

Coordinates: 51°29′00″N 0°10′39″W / 51.4834°N 0.1774°W / 51.4834; -0.1774