Cecil saving the Zee and Co sign
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We say goodbye to the legendary fashion store Zee & Co.

Zee & Co, established in 1984, a much-loved retailer cherished by locals and fashion enthusiasts alike, has sadly closed down, marking the end of an era for our iconic street.

In the heart of East London, within the vibrant community of Roman Road, stood a fashion institution that has long been a beacon of style and luxury. For decades, Zee & Co. has been East London’s go-to destination for globally sourced garments. 

It grew from a small boutique into a cornerstone of the Roman Road shopping scene, offering an extensive range of designer clothing for men. Its past clientele includes some of the biggest names in the grime scene, including ​​Tinchy Stryder and Wiley. 

Last night was Zee & Co’s closing event. We went along and caught up with branch manager and buyer Michael Nugent to learn what has made this iconic store tick over the last few decades and what the shuttering means for our community.

What was a bustling store packed to the nines with everything from Ralph Lauren to Versace, tonight was a vast, empty space adorned with 70% off closing signs where designer brands would have hung. 

Empty store at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Empty Zee and Co

The emptiness didn’t impede its vibe, even on closing night, as the sound system blasted grime classics and a steady stream of rum punch flowed for the influx of former employees coming to have one last farewell. 

Staff from across Zee’s many years of trading embraced one another in happy recognition, reminiscing about the times spent working at the store.

While pouring Wray and Nephew’s into slushies for us, store manager Nugent said, ‘Everyone who comes in and everyone who has ever worked here is like family; closing will have such a huge impact on everyone who’s ever been here. It’s always been a community hub.’

Slushys and rum at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Slushys and Rum at Zee and Co closing night

Nugent had worked at the store since 1998, when it relocated to its current home at 454 Roman Road. Knowing the shop and its clientele inside out, Nugent has travelled worldwide as a buyer, sourcing the best garments to sell on the Roman. Not just a fashion go-to, the shop has had a whole host of grime music videos shot there, adding to the artistic credentials it radiates.

The reasons behind Zee & Co’s closure are not entirely clear, and the closing came as a surprise to its managers two days before Christmas during a Zoom call. Frasers, which also owns many other retailers, such as Sports Direct and Flannels, has purchased the company.

As news of Zee & Co’s closure spreads throughout Roman Road, it evokes a sense of nostalgia and reflection among residents and visitors alike. Hermela Bihion, who works at TMS security next door and lives across the road, popped into Zee’s closing event.

‘It’s such a huge loss for the community in Bow. Zee & Co. was a highlight for people to come to the area. On the weekend, people would flock here for this store, benefiting other businesses around them. It’s such a shame,’ she said.

Till showing Final Sale No Refunds at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Final Sale No Refunds at Zee and Co

Many recall fond memories of browsing through clothing racks, seeking the perfect outfit for a special occasion or simply indulging in some retail therapy. Others lament the loss of a familiar landmark that has been a fixture in their lives for as long as they can remember. 

Jay Hussain, who has worked at Zee & Co. for over 20 years, said, ‘Every customer I’ve spoken to over the last few weeks has been outraged and so gutted. People have been coming here since they were kids.’

Despite the sadness surrounding its closure, Zee & Co’s legacy on Roman Road will endure. From its impeccable yet laid-back customer service to its commitment to quality and style, Zee & Co. set a standard of excellence that few could match. 

Cecil, now 48, worked at the store when he was 18, ‘It’s a right of passage for people in the community to work here.’ As we spoke to Cecil about fond memories of the store, a workman from Frasers appeared and began taking down the iconic Zee & Co. sign. 

Mid-conversation, Cecil bolted outside and asked to keep the sign, as working there meant so much to him. 

He returned with a beaming face, clutching four bits of silver: ‘Z’, ‘&’, ‘C’, ‘o’.

‘I’m taking it; I’m taking the sign; it’s legendary. Now I can put it on my living room wall as a trophy and show my grandkids that I worked here,’ he said.

Former staff at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Former staff and friends at Zee and Co. closing night

As Zee & Co’s chapter ends on Roman Road, it serves as a reminder to cherish the institutions that enrich our communities. We are increasingly seeing independent shops have their shutters pulled along the Roman. 

While the closure may mark the end of an era, manager Nugent is hopeful for the future. He is opening a pop-up shop across the road at Pride Tattoo, selling his daughter’s new clothing brand, S.madeit. The brand will feature Nike trainers spray painted, relaced, and tie-dyed. 

Nugent didn’t know who would be taking Zee’s place at 454 Roman Road, but before them, the space was an indoor market lined with booths. Perhaps another fashion icon will rise to take its place, continuing the legacy of style and sophistication on the Roman. 

Having said this, searching the internet might offer a glimpse into the future, as Zee & Co’s website redirects you to Flannels. Could this be a sign of what’s to come?

Rum punch at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Rum punch flowing at Zee and Co closing night
70 percent off signs at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
70 percent off signs at Zee and Co closing down event
Zee and Co sign on the floor of an empty shop at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Zee and Co sign saved by former staff
Michael Nugent daughters brand being shown at Zee and Co closing down event, Roman Road, East London
Michael’s daughter’s new brand

If you liked this, then why not read Famous Grime Figures and their Roots Roman Road

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2 thoughts on “We say goodbye to the legendary fashion store Zee & Co.

  • Another nail in the coffin of Roman Rd. Everywhere else is flourishing but this street has been dying a slow death for decades. Why is that? Surely people must be interested in more than nail bars, vape shops, real estate agents, tattooists and tired veg shops

  • What a surprise, this court me unawares. I worked for Zee & Co from 1996 – 2005 and had great admiration of the staff (Big Mike Nugget, Darren Edwards, Brian Samuels, Manny Okote, X-Man Eppelle, Lorraine, Sonya, Keeley, Jason, Dread Carl, Steve, Ian and his brother, Mo, Nathan Jones, Elaine, Maria and many more whom i haven’t mentioned) and the owners (Steve Crew and Steve Reynolds). Zee & Co was Iconic in Roman Road, and it was a great pleasure for me to serve. Zee & Co. will definitely be missed by many who were patrons and those that worked for the company.
    It breaks my heart to hear of its sudden closure.


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