Straight up, I shop A LOT! Most of the time, I'm not even buying anything but I just love the experience of browsing, picking things up, touching clothes. Even if I wasn't living in London AKA one of the world's shopping meccas, I'd still be seeking out the top-notch places to shop. Thankfully living in London, means that the range of shops is mind bogglingly varied. So I thought I might introduce some of my favourite off-the-beaten-track shopping destinations (well....not so much if you're a hardcore London shopper) for anyone visiting London or living in London but end up going around and around the usual places.
1) Start 59 Rivington Street (Menswear), 42-44 Rivington Street (Womenswear and Accessories), EC2A 3BN
As the name suggests, it is indeed a good place to start. This is more like a mini-department store rather than a boutique. It has a VERY comprehensive denim deparment stocking Tsubi, Cheap Monday, Acne and other 'it' brands. What's great about this place is that it stocks the choice items of a huge breadth of labels - for guys, there's Penguin, Miu Miu, CdG, Belstaff, Etro and for girls, Karen Walker, Vanessa Bruno, Bella Freud, and Future Classics. The stock is ever evolving and the peeps who own it are nice as well!
2) The Pineal Eye 49 Broadwick Street, W1F 9QR
I used to be scared to go in here because the shop assistants' level of coolness was so solid that you could cut a knife through it. However, I love browsing in this store because it stocks a wide variety of very out there labels that can be hard to find in London. Boudicca, Niels Klavers, André Walker, Ann-Sofie Back, Gaspard Yurkievich, Jeremy Scott, Rykiel homme, Wolf are just the few that I can think of. They always have very good window displays too.
3) The World According To... 4 Brewer Street, W1F 0SB
I absolutely love this boutique! It's positvely tiny and it's down in a basement but everything it stocks is just really really cute and it does have a very Japanese kind of feeling to it. It was the only place to stock the Eley Kishimoto Ellesse range. It always has a nice selection of Silas, Marc by MJ, Eley Kishimoto and Sonia Rykiel - fun, cute labels that are oh so wearable. They also stock Anna Sui make up which is just impossible to find in London! They will shortly be stocking the new McQ diffusion line by Alexander McQueen too - I will be phone-stalking the owners tirelessly to find out when it's in stock! I think this place has a special place in my heart, because I made my first few designer purchases here. As I handed over my hard earned fist of notes when I was about 18, the giddy elation I felt was magic!
4) Twinkled - 1.5 Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PW
This isn't just another vintage store with some half hearted rails of old Atari t-shirts and crusty Levi's. This is full on, 100% pure kitsch/retro. It's not just any kind of kitsch either, it's naff bordering on cool British ktsch. Plastic tea sets from the 70's, chintzy curtain fabrics, intact lampshades. Oh, and of course lots and lots of clothes and shoes - all in very good condition. I also like their selection of vintage hoisery, still packaged and unworn. The shop is just so crammed full of stuff that you end up spending hours browsing wishing you could buy the whole shop and fill your room with whimsical crap. There's always a great in-store playlist too.
5) Labour of Love 193 Upper Street, N1 1RQ
I don't come up to Islington in North London very often - it's a very chi-chi kind of area nowadays but this little boutique is very sweet indeed. The thing is there's no pretentiousness about it. It's just a collection of lovingly picked out bits of stock from all over the place including Beatrice Ong shoes, Martelli leather gloves, carefully sourced vintage from Italy, Laura Urbinati lingerie. The owner Francesca, being Italian has thus sourced a lot of Italian heritage labels. It is exactly what the name says it is.
6) Antipodium - 5a Carlisle Street, W1S 3BH
Shepherds Bush is not the only Aussie domain in London. In this boutique in Soho, is an injected dose of Antipodium fashion. It specialises in stocking labels from down under as well as being a PR company for these labels. However, the shop stocks some non-antipodean labels such as Peter Jensen and Jens Laugesen. You then have Karen Walker, Alice McCall (the new LFW designer on the block who is getting a lot of attention these days), Oscar, Bernstock Speirs, Mala Brajkovic (cute cute dresses!) and PaM. The great thing is, that the labels stocked here are not just there because they're Australian/NZ, but are picked for their great design. I love coming here just to see what new talent is coming from those parts of the world!
7) Microzine 3/4a Little Portland Street, W1
This store is supposed to be a men's lifestyle store, selling the latest gadgets, the most exclusive clothes and footwear and the rarest homewares for the GQ-reading kind of male market. However, as a femme, I still like coming here if not to shop, then to get a dose of coolness. Plus, the furniture is always fun to look at and I'm a gadget freak (see my bag contents!) Now that i've been designated 'Dedicated Shopper for all b-day/leaving presents' at work, this store has proved very useful indeed for those hard to buy for guys at work and I always end up sneaking in something for myself too!
8) Get-Up Boutique - 9 Ashbridge Street, NW8 8DH
If you're a LFW follower like myself, you will have heard of Weardowney, a knitwear label designer by Amy Wear and Gail Downey (see what they have done there!). Well, they have a little boutique in this quiet part of town where they sell their own knitwear ranges and collaborations (the partnership with Janet Reger lingerie is particularly beautiful!) What's even better is that they stock REALLY quite hard to find labels like Jean Pierre Braganza and Basso & Brooke - two designers you hear a lot about during London Fashion Week, but hardly get to see the stuff being sold.
9) The Girl Can't Help It - G100,G90,G80 at Alfie's Antique Market, 13-25 Church Street, NW8 8DT
I love Alfie's in general because it's a very orderly, neat antiques market with very good quality vintage stores. This is one of my faves though because of the authenticity of each garment. It focuses on 1940's and 50's American glamour so there are a lot of blonde, pin up references. Glam is the key word here as there's a wonderful selection of vintage cocktail dresses. There's also a lot of Hawaiiana which is always fun! As with Twinkled, you can also buy some very camp knick knacks for your pad. Want a Jayne Mansfield hot water bottle or a pin up girl lampshade? You can only find them here!
10) Bang Bang - 21 Goodge Street, W1T 2PJ
I have no pictures or website to go with this shop but this is actually my favourite out of the whole list. It's basically a dress agency, designer consignment store and vintage shop all rolled into one. You can sell your old designer, high street, vintage threads here in exchange for a wodge of cash or store credit. You can buy lots of vintage YSL, Prada shoes, two season old Marc Jacobs and plenty of quirky London based labels. Then there's the basement which has mostly vintage non-designer things. It's not particularly pretty to look at but I can spend hours rifling through racks here and I always find hidden gems tucked away at pretty low prices!