… The Beatles released their album, ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Not only was the album era-defining, but their militaria persona spoke to the styles of the time too, influenced by the shop of the Swinging Sixties, ‘I Was Lord Kitcheners Valet’.


Often hailed as one of the most influential Rock albums of our time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is said to have ushered in the ‘Album Era’ of high concept and thematic songs running throughout. It was also influential through the sleeve’s graphic design, by pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, depicting the Fab Four in an exaggerated, colourful take on Edwardian military uniform. 

This wasn’t the first time the Beatles donned military garb as their uniform; at their Shea Stadium concert in 1965, they sported matching jungle tunic outfits. It is said that the inspiration behind this and the Sgt. Pepper cover (as was once stated by Blake) was from the small but iconic shop ‘I Was Lord Kitcheners Valet’ just up the road on Portobello Road, as well as the Kings Road and Carnaby Street. The shop specialised in surplus military gear, particularly Edwardian uniforms that were withdrawn from use, such as scarlet tunics. Modifications had to be made of course, as impersonating a member of the armed forces was a criminal offence.


Born out of Portobello Road (much like us!), ‘I Was Lord Kicheners Valet’ was at the heart of the Swinging Sixties, a one-stop shop for music icons of the era, George Harrison and John Lennon were known customers, as was Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger. The popularity of the shop therefore spread, meaning the trend went more mainstream – something that was happening quicker in the ‘60s than it ever had before – helped by the burgeoning counterculture of the time often co-opting military gear as an anti-war protest. In the late 1960s they also sourced Afghan coats and kaftans, keeping up with the fast-changing, revolutionary styles of London in the mid-to-late ‘60s.


We fished out some tunics and jackets that we could imagine were offerings, as well as one of their t-shirts from our archive, with the iconic shop’s label in.


The shop was a huge inspiration for music stars and the style was era-defining. Also, it laid the groundwork for future fashion movements that draw inspiration from the past.