On matters relating to sport we freely confess ignorance, with a scant handful of exceptions, among which are hunting, shooting and fishing (and ping pong, but that’s for another time). This interest arises not from bloodlust but aesthetics; muted, earthy tweeds, the pared down functionality of a rubber boot, and the eye-popping fluorescents of fly-fishing tackle all contribute to our entirely uneducated enthusiasm for the sporting life. It was with this in mind that we headed to clubby Pall Mall where Farlows, department store for the outdoorsy set, makes its home in a substantial building once occupied by a bank.
Even for a city-dweller it it is not hard to envisage uses for Farlows’ products. Hip flasks and hand warmers serve their purpose on moors, we’re sure, but they seem equally well-suited to windswept bus stops, while an Opinel knife would do just as well for a piece of cheese or sausage on a picnic as it does gutting a small animal.
The showstopper here is the fishing section, where keen anglers can buy the constituent parts to construct artificial flies of their own design. These items are extraordinary in range, colour and product name, we were particularly taken by Krinkle Mirror Flash, an artificial black peacock feather which sounds like the title of a lost Tom Wolfe story.
There is nothing stuffy about Farlows; its atmosphere is airy, the staff are friendly and the goods displayed well and with occasional discreet humour. Whether you’re a true country enthusiast or mere townie fantasist, this is the place.
Farlows, 9 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5NP. Tel: 020 7484 1000
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 9am-6pm; Thursday 9am-7pm; Saturday 10am-6pm
Photographs by Garson Byer. See more of Garson's work at In A Lonely Place.
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