London is one of world’s fashion hotspots. London Fashion Week has just finished for another season, with more than 5000 visitors attending the shows and exhibitions, but what are the key places to visit for the newbie Londoner? Designer shops, world famous department stores, an amazing High Street collection, vintage boutiques and quirky street markets; London has everything a style hunter could ask for.
Harrods has to come top of the iconic London department store list. Located on Brompton Road, Kensington, Harrods is a tourist attraction in its own right. Although the entrance ways get busy, the crowds disperse as you explore further into the store. Be sure to explore the designer women’s clothes galleries and have a spot of afternoon tea in the Harrods restaurant which is cheaper but equally as good as at The Ritz.
Shoe lovers should make way to Selfridges who in 2010 opened the largest shoe department in the world in their London store. With 35,000sq ft of shopping space dedicated to women’s footwear the store holds over 5000 pairs of shoes from 120 brands. Then there is Liberty London, famed for its prints since 1875. Marvel at the pretty patterns in the scarf room, and climb the grand dark oak staircase to reach the high end fashion labels.
There are plenty lesser known clothing shops scattered across London with huge shopping potential, you just have to know where to look. Wolf & Badger in Notting Hill is unique lifestyle store showcasing and retailing the finest in independent fashion and design. Wolf & Badger support up-and-coming creative talent so you will find emerging labels, potentially snapping up the next big thing before anyone else.
If you are a green goddess, head out to Chiswick for a visit to Eco Age. Founded by Colin Firth’s wife, Livia, Eco Age stocks the best ethical and sustainable fashion brands in London. For vintage and second-hand fashion make your way to Beyond Retro, Rokit and the lesser-known gem, Bang Bang on Goodge Street.
No London shopping trip would be complete without some bargain hunting at the markets. Camden is great for alternative fashion, with small stores open all week long. Camden Lock market started in 1973 and is now surrounded by five more markets. Portobello Road market goes straight through Notting Hill, stretching two miles. You will find a wealth of vintage and second-hand fashion and accessories, plus small and established brands including Paul Smith and Myla. There is also Spitalfields market which becomes a melting pot of young designers on Sundays, with achingly cool handmade clothes and vintage pieces.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is a must for fashion lovers. Explore the costume and jewellery halls for exquisite designs spanning decades. The special exhibition for 2012 is ‘Ball Gowns: British glamour since 1950’. There is also the dedicated Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street and an extensive dress collection at the Museum of London. If you fancy a smaller museum, try the Fan Museum in Greenwich, the only museum in the world dedicated to every aspect of fans and fan making.
Emma Waight is a PhD Geography researcher and Fashion Writer for www.clothes.org.uk. Follow Clothes for clothing news and style advice.