Camden Market; a maze of stalls and the most unusual shops in London

LONDON: The capital host catwalk shows, presentations, designer showrooms, and events organised throughout the London Fashion Week. Shopping in London is exciting and diverse. There is truly something for every style and budget – from bespoke luxury to high street bargains, vintage markets to independent stores. Here is an introduction to the city’s distinct shopping areas, and a few top shops to check out.

Central London
Oxford Street: This iconic retail hub is home to more than 300 shops and flagship stores.

Top shops: British department store John Lewis, legendary Selfridges near Marble Arch, and the huge flagship Primark store near Tottenham Court Road is heaven for bargain hunters. Trend-conscious shoppers flock to the colossal Topshop/Topman Oxford Circus, famous for its extensive collections of up-to-the-minute fashion.

Regent’s Street: arching from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, this elegant street is home to some of London’s oldest, most famous shops.

Top shops: Luxury British heritage brand Burberry´s four-floor flagship store. Britain’s most famous toy shop, Hamleys, has been trading for more than 250 years and sells every toy or game imaginable over its six floors. Founded in 1875, one-of-a-kind artsy department store Liberty, just behind Regent Street, is famous for its floral prints and large selection of pieces by young British designers.

Carnaby: step under the iconic arched Carnaby Street sign to this funky area between Regent Street and Oxford Street with over 100 shops – a mix of boutiques, shoe and denim brands and heritage brands like Dr Martins – plus bars and restaurants to recharge in.

Top shops: Get expert make-up advice or a makeover at the Benefit Store. Check out distinctive ‘Rock & Roll Couture’ jewellery at The Great Frog, where every piece is hand crafted on site and niche clientele since 1972.

Covent Garden: one of London’s most diverse shopping areas. Check out arts and crafts at Covent Garden Market and King Street for classy brands like Sandro and Jo Malone London. Deviate from the mainstream in bohemian Neal’s Yard, a brightly painted courtyard lined with vegan cafés and home to ethical beauty brand Neal’s Yard Remedies for the last 30 years. Seven Dials is a network of seven atmospheric streets lined with international fashion brands stores, boutiques and beauty salons.

Top shops: In Seven Dials, Beadworks Bead Shop huge range of unique beads from all over the world is a crafter’s dream. Check out British jewellery brand Tatty Devine playful, kitsch acrylic statement pieces – in the Seven Dials store you can design your own personalised Name necklace and see it get made on the spot!

West London
Portobello Road Market, Notting Hill: an unmissable London shopping experience and one of the most famous street markets in the world. It’s easy to spend hours browsing along this mile of shops and stalls selling vintage clothing, rare antiques, gifts, souvenirs, and street food. The market is in full swing on Saturday – arrive by 11:30am to avoid the crowds.

Top shops: Yeeha! Saddle up in Wild West style at Jessie Western – a visual feast of cowboy boots, Stetson hats, fringed suede jackets and Navajo turquoise jewellery sourced by its sister owners.

Knightsbridge is this glitzy area of London and synonymous with luxury.

Top shops: world-famous Harrods is a spectacular emporium of prestigious brands and all things luxury, including its dedicated Shoe Heaven department, and Toy Kingdom for little shoppers.

North London
Camden Market: actually a series of adjoining markets, you’ll find a maze of stalls and some of the most unusual shops in London here, with punk clothing and tattoo parlours aplenty. Full of atmosphere, the markets are open every day and busiest at the weekends. Browse home decor, boho fashion, crafts and trinkets, jewellery, books and vintage in the original Camden Lock Market. The adjoining Stables Market, a former horse hospital, has 700 stalls selling wares ranging from antiques to alternative fashion.

Top shops: Clothing clubbers for over 20 years, Cyberdog is a Camden institution.

East London
Shoreditch: now a shopping destination in its own right, Shoreditch is renowned for vintage outlets alongside big brands, designer boutiques, indie labels and eclectic gift shops.

Top shops: After browsing indie labels like Wondaland and Knowledge Cotton in Aida, shoppers can get their hair and make-up done at the store’s vintage beauty salon.
Box Park this ‘pop-up shopping mall’ housed in shipping containers is a mix of contemporary lifestyle stores and cafés.

Top shops: Pärla is a curated selection of beautiful jewellery by various designers, chosen by the store’s owner. Be inspired by quirky, bright home accessories, creative books, artwork and funky stationery at The Gift Box

Brick Lane: this buzzing area has become as famous for its shopping as its curries! Sunday UpMarket in the Old Truman Brewery is a mélange of 140 creative traders, and lauded as one of London’s best markets for new designers.

Top shops: Pam Pam caters for ‘girls who aren’t girly girls’, with a room dedicated to women’s trainers. Rough Trade East on Dray Walk is arguably London’s best independent music shop and stages in-store gigs. Just off Brick Lane on Hanbury Street is Blitz, the world’s largest vintage department store, with racks of classic rock tees, Japanese kimonos and pastel denim.

Spitalfields: Old Spitalfields Market is a vibrant hub for creative traders. On Saturdays and Sundays it’s packed with stalls, including new designers and mouth-watering street food.

Top shops: Inspitalfields is a colourful shop for humorous gifts, cards, and unique homecare, while stylish independent boutique The Mercantile London sells selected pieces from affordable European labels– and even has a cute shop dog called Robert!

Columbia Road Market: short walk from Spitalfields, Columbia Road becomes an oasis of foliage and flowers every Sunday, and has 60 independent shops – from art galleries to garden shops – as well as pubs, delis and cafés to refuel in.

Hackney Walk: a large new discount fashion district featuring savings of up to 70 per cent on brands including Burberry, Nike, and cult shoe brand, UGG.


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