• British Boutique labels of the 1960s and 1970s: Bus Stop

    Bus Stop store frontBus Stop is one of our favourite labels at Candy Says. We are particularly fond of their 1940s inspired tea dresses, but there was so much more to this colourful and daring British Boutique label!

    Bus Stop was started by Lee Bender along with her husband Cecil in the late 1960s. They had previously produced clothing under their 'Lee Cecil' label earlier in the 1960s, and went on to open the first Bus Stop shop in 1969 in Kensington's fashionable Church Street, right next door to the iconic Biba.

    The Bus Stop name was chosen as it represented something identifiably British, and the red interior of the shop continued this theme based on the colour of telephone kiosks, post boxes and London buses.

    Deco jacketBus Stop label 

    Bus Stop 1940s inspired jersey jacket with deco fan print, and Bus Stop label 

    The Bus Stop ethos was to bring designer styling to the high street, at prices that everyone could afford - a mission that proved to be the secret of their enormous success.

    They aimed to produce collections of stock that could be mixed and matched - the concept of co-ordinates had rarely been envisaged before their launch, so Bus Stop was something of a pioneer in this area. Tops, jackets, coats and sweaters were produced as matching ensembles, with the opportunity to purchase trousers, dresses, skirts and accessories to combine with your outfit or wear as separates.

    A visit to their bright red shop (originally Victorian grocers) was a real experience - as well as the racks of colourful clothing, you could find all manner of accessories from scarves, hats, belts and bags, to resin jewellery made by pop star Adam Ant (who was studying at art college at the time).


    Wool Bus Stop jacket 

    A plaid wool tailored Bus Stop jacket

    Their clothing was manufactured in their own factories, and Lee insisted on trying on the stock herself to ensure that it was made to the proportions of 'real' women, hence Bus Stop designs were always beautifully tailored and flattering to wear. Joan Collins, a celebrity customer of Bus Stop, named Lee Bender as one of her favourite designers, claiming "She designs clothes for ladies with boobs and bums".

    Bus Stop excelled at creating quirky fashionable designs across a whole range of styles - from multi stripe jerseywear and glam rock threads to Fair Isle knits, tartan, op-art prints and military styling - and of course, their infamous range of elegant 1940s inspired tea dresses in a myriad of adorable novelty prints. 


     Bus Stop cockerel print tea dressClose up of cockerel print

    Bus Stop cockerel print jersey tea dress and close-up of print

    Famous customers included Brigitte Bardot, Marianne Faithfull, Pattie Boyd, Angie Bowie and Nina Simone - quite a star-studded clientele ...

    In 1977 Bus Stop began producing lines for the Grattan mail order catalogue, so girls all over the country could purchase the latest trends without having to travel to the nearest shop - something we really take for granted in the internet age!

    Velvet Bus Stop dress

    Stunning blue velvet Bus Stop disco dress with cut-out back

    In the ten years from 1969 to 1979, Bus Stop became a chain of twelve stores within the UK, and even expanded into the USA, Amsterdam, Canada and Japan. The chain was bought by 'French Connection' in 1979, and in the early 1980s Lee and Cecil Bender opened the London boutique 'Arcade'. 

    Bus Stop designs are sought after now for their flattering cut, beautiful prints and fantastic fabrics. You can view our current collection of Bus Stop stock here

    Bus Stop book 

    For more information on Bus Stop, treat yourself to a copy of 'Bus Stop and the influence of the 70s on fashion today' by Lee Bender.

  • ← Next Post Previous Post →
  • Comments on this post (22 comments)

    • Henrietta says...

      Dear Alex, I used to shop in the Edinburgh branch (when I could afford it) circa ‘73. when I was 15. Was the shop on either Frederick st. or Hanover st. You’re a wise woman for keeping some garments, wish I had as they were stunning from what I remember. Loved the fair isle 1940’s style jumpers……

      On September 28, 2014

    • alex says...

      I worked in the Edinburgh branch. Started as a Saturday girl when it first opened & became manageress until I left in 1974. was such a lovely place to work & such amazing people. We used to get together with the Brian Drumm staff & Bruce’s Rercord Shop staff often. Still have some clothing. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh memories

      On September 25, 2014

    • Liz says...

      I remember the Glasgow shop and loved the clothes but could not always afford them, so much so that a close workmate at the time and I bought a fabulous maxi dress between us and took turn about at wearing it and because I paid more it was kept at my house! lol

      On September 20, 2014

    • kathleen saich says...

      i have a picture of me at the isle of wight 1970 wearing a full length floaty bus stop dress. and a coat thing over it also full length. my son who was two at the time is in mr freedom purple cord loons. and a huge biba hat.

      On August 18, 2014

    • Mary Coleman says...

      I still have the black crushed velvet, sweetheart neckline, long sleeved dress, size 10 and I can still get into it.

      On August 10, 2014

    • I was in Birmingham this week and fondly remember the Bus Stop shop and shopping there fabulous times. says...

      How exciting to hear from people who worked there!

      On August 03, 2014

    • Helen Cameron says...

      Loved the Glasgow shop in union street. Couldn’t,t buy much on a student grant(remember these?), but had two lovely forties style suits, and a fabulous long dress. Got lots of compliments in them. Stylish, fashionable, but still quirky and unusual.:)

      On July 26, 2014

    • Sylvia Jones says...

      Yes I worked in the The Bus Stop in Kensington High Street in the early 70’s. I still have a black velvet jacket with silver birds on it size 10. Sadly no longer fit into it.
      Remember those says fondly I remember Lee Bender and her sister who had lovely long red hair.

      On July 14, 2014

    • Bronwen says...

      I too worked at Bus Stop and loved it! I remember being very impressed by a cooworker who drank lots of Tabs from Tesco’s round the corner as I’d never seen diet coke before – strange what you remember! After Kensington I moved to Chelsea and worked at the big modern drugstore on the King’s Road. Great times!

      On June 23, 2014

    • Rosemary Anderson says...

      My favourite shop in Liverpool. Remember my gorgeous green halter neck. Buttoned down the front and swirled out from the waist. Wish I’d kept it.

      On January 23, 2014

  • Leave a comment