64–66 Redchurch Street
England E2 7DP
Tel: 44 20 3487 0066
Tube: Shoreditch High Street
Quintessential British brand Aubin & Wills was founded in 2008 but already has carved itself a here-to-stay niche for clean-lined APC-meets–Steven Alan basics. The brand's red fox logo and smart packaging is backed up by products that exude quality. Come here for classics like slim-cut peacoats, striped bateau-neck tops, and shawl-collar cardigans as well as a few choice homewares like Johnstons of Elgin plaid blankets. The Shoreditch store opened in a three-floor brick warehouse space in May 2010 and incorporates a Stuart Semple art gallery upstairs and a 45-seat cinema downstairs, all vintage sofas and velvet cushions. This is a concept store with substance.—Colleen Clark
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.
The Old Bank, 31 Sloane Square
Tube: Sloane Square
Tel: 44 207 881 8010
First and foremost, Bamford & Sons is a shop for the boys. The clothing is classic casual; think crisp linen shirts, bleached cotton suits, cashmere V-necks (a Jude Law favorite), and mini-me versions of the men's collection for junior. A recent revamp of the top floor made way for elegant silks, cashmere vests, and jewelry for the missus, plus a small line of cashmere baby clothes for sensitive-skinned offspring. Bamford & Sons also has a knack for getting first dibs on the sexiest little gadgets, such as the Toshiba Libretto—one of the world's smallest personal computers—and a fine selection of vintage watches, including Tag Heuers from the 1970s. What with the nonchalantly cool interior, and foods from the Daylesford Organic Cafe in the basement, you'll soon realize that you're buying a lifestyle—and you thought you only needed a cashmere sweater.
1718 Dover Street
Tube: Green Park
Tel: 44 207 518 0680
Not a market at all, Rei Kawakubo's 13,000-square-foot West End store is where, as the Comme des Garçons visionary said when it opened in fall 2004, "various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos." Most of these fields are—surprise, surprise—fashion-related, although you can also pick up a taxidermy squirrel or ferret skull by Emma Hawkins, or furniture by Jean Prouvé or Hedi Slimane. Azzedine Alaïa, Alber Elbaz, Junya Watanabe, Raf Simons, cult jeweler Judy Blame, and the L.A. superior-vintage dealer Decades are among Kawakubo's handpicked creators. Chandelier-lit plywood shelves, galvanized-steel floors, Porta-Potty fitting rooms, and a corrugated-iron-roofed cash register add to the industrial-style chaos. Despite the scrappy aesthetic, prices are top dollar, but the fourth-floor Rose Bakery is good for a post-browsing snack, complete with rooftop views.
36 and 37 Kinnerton Street
Tube: Hyde Park Corner
Tel: 44 207 235 9315
A nonfashion boutique loved by the design cognoscenti (Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Sir Terence Conran, Nicole Kidman, Donna Karan), Egg is still a semisecret even though it opened in 1993—perhaps due to its location on a residential cobbled street. The eye of owner Maureen Doherty is behind everything from the clothes to the French antiques to the fascinating jewelry and objets. The look is very hard to categorize, yet is all of a piece, and people either adore it or don't get it—nothing in between. In early 2005, Italian Daniela Gregis, took over the main clothing line—think floaty but crisp, comfortable but sharp pieces in the best linens, cottons, and silks. The second line, made by Tibetans whom Doherty met through the Dalai Lama, transcends time and fashion. There's also a men's store across the street.
58 Davies St. and 17 Davies Mews
Tube: Bond Street
Tel: 44 207 629 7034
In this labyrinth of over 200 tiny antique shops crammed full of collectibles and curiosities, you'll rub shoulders with serious collectors in search of a first-edition book, designers seeking inspiration on the racks of vintage clothes, and antique-jewelry aficionados in their element, browsing the huge range of sparklers. Bennie Gray—the man responsible for the equally beguiling Alfies Antique Market in Marylebone, known for its 100-plus stalls brimming with Art Deco, silver, furniture, and vintage clothing—opened Grays in 1977 (13–25 Church St., NW8; 44-207-723-6066; www.alfiesantiques.com). Originally the HQ of a water-closet manufacturer, the restored 19th-century red-sandstone building pays homage to its aqueous origins by channeling the Tyburn River (a tributary to the Thames which, oddly enough, runs through the building's basement) into an indoor trickling stream complete with arched oriental bridges and goldfish.
Tel: 44 207 235 5000
The No. 1 fashion store, with the No. 1 cosmetics floor, Harvey Nic's is practically a cult. All the established, and many emerging, designerswomen's and men'sare represented in eight flawlessly edited floors. A sampling of labels includes Dries Van Noten, Luella, Derek Lam, Matthew Williamson, Marni, Melissa Odabash, Pringle, Proenza Schouler, Roland Mouret, Thakoon, and Zac Posenplus a Jimmy Choo boutique. Fifth Floor, the perennially trendy bar-café-restaurant, was an early entry in the destination-restaurant-in-a-shop craze. There's also a Wagamama noodle bar in the basement.
41–43 Redchurch Street
England E2 7DJ
Tel: 44 20 7739 9733
Burlap is draped tentlike across the walls and ceilings, and knitwear sits folded on makeshift sawhorse tables lit by industrial caged bulbs at this cult menswear outpost. There are two main rooms, one with T-shirts, cashmere, and fragrance and bath oils by the likes of Elder Statesman and Damir Doma, and the other featuring more directional menswear by Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester. A third room houses a pop-up shop for visiting designers.—Colleen Clark
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.
29 Holland Street
Tube: High Street Kensington
Tel: 44 207 937 9855
Kirsten Goss's small jewelry shop is tucked away behind the busy shopping neighborhood of High Street Kensington, but it's well worth the detour. Goss, who studied jewelry design and gemology in her native South Africa, combines semiprecious stones, Swarovski crystal, and the odd bit of antique silver to create sparkling clusters of color; blues and turquoise in her current Marina collection, and deep reds and pinks in her Carmen rings, necklaces, and charm bracelets. Showcase pieces, used in magazine shoots as well as an exhibition at London's fashion week, are also on display. One creation, multiple strands of crystals and antique Yemen silver, meant to be slung loosely around the waist and shoulder, illustrates the brilliance of her bespoke pieces.
West End, W1
Tube: Oxford Circus
Tel: 44 207 734 1234
A department store of two partsthe more eye-catching of which is Tudor House, built in 1924this enterprise dates to 1875, when Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened his diminutive Regent Street shop to sell fabric and objets d'art from the Far East. From seller of exotic curiosities, Liberty became a trendsetter, contributing to the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements throughout the 1890s. Today, it continues to showcase new designers, be it cutting-edge fashion by Alexander McQueen, iconic furniture by Vitra, and more-routine items, such as bags, books, bikinis, or even chaise lounges decked out in Liberty's famous Art Deco fabrics. Taste this good comes at a price, however, and while a purchase might please your interior designer, it's just as likely to make your accountant cringe.
Markets are a vibrant part of shopping in London, and have been since medieval times. If you can handle the rough-and-tumble crowds, you'll find bargains, original clothes, and jewelry from young designers, vintage pieces, housewares, organic food, and much more. The weekend tends to be the best time to visit, when the number of stalls swells considerably. There are far too many to mention or visit in one trip, but the following five are a good bet.
Spitalfields: The neighborhood's high quota of artistic residents is reflected in its covered market, best known for organic food, vintage and new clothing by young designers, crafts, and knickknacks. There's a fashion market on Thursday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Tube: Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, or Aldgate East
Sunday UpMarket: Nearby to Spitalfields, in the Old Truman Brewery just off Brick Lane, vendors sell arty gifts, vintage and new clothing, and jewelry, with some vintage pieces thrown in for good measure. There's also a wide range of ethnic food stalls (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Tube: Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, or Aldgate East
Portobello Road Market: Vendors sell everything from antiques and vintage records to new clothes and organic produce from the 2,000 stalls at this Notting Hill mainstay. The busiest, but best, day is Saturday (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
Tube: Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove
Camden Lock Market: Actually a number of separate indoor and outdoor bazaars lining Regent's Canal, Camden Lock Market has become increasingly touristy in recent years. Even so, it's worth a visit for the frenetic atmosphere, if not the crafts, antiques, and club gear (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
Tube: Camden Town or Chalk Farm Road
Greenwich: There's been a market in this south London suburb since the 1700s. Today, the main courtyard hosts a covered market for new arts and crafts, as well as food stalls on weekends. (Visit on a Thursday or Friday for antiques.) Another antiques market is located next door to the Greenwich cinema, and a flea market across from the Ibis Hotel sells records, furniture, clothing, and textiles. (Times vary, approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.)
Tube/DLR: Cutty Sark
16 Cheshire Street
Bethnal Green, E2
Tel: 44 207 729 1494
In the happening environs of Brick Lane, you'll find the second actor side project, given that his band's still aliveof Mark Bedford, the bassist from Madness. Who knew the guy behind "Baggy Trousers" and "Our House" had such exquisite taste? This is a sparse store of well-priced houseware finds, sourced from all over Europe. A mix of high and lowfunky handmade ceramic beakers, industrial-delicate light fittings, French gardener's clogs, Danish melamine bowls, and wooden children's toys. The store hours are eccentricit's only open weekends, though you can call ahead to get in during the week.
5 Clarendon Cross
Tube: Holland Park, Latimer Road
Tel: 44 207 229 5678
Ms. Moore, the sculptor Henry Moore's only offspring, has had a lifelong habit of collecting vintage clothes, and this chic and funky boutique is the culmination. No sloppy kitsch here—these are brocade gowns and velvet cocktail frocks, tweeds, tartans, taffeta, and tulle from the 1920s to the 1970s, displayed in rotating selections against scarlet floral walls. Mary delights in matchmaking dress to woman, and has a tailor on call for alterations—or copies. This doesn't come cheap, but we're talking fashion history.Closed Sundays and Mondays.
6064 Ledbury Road
Notting Hill, W11
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Tel: 44 207 221 0255
If you're keen to spend top dollar on high-end labels, then this stylish boutique, frequented by the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, provides a chilled atmosphere and an equally chilled glass of wine as you browse potential purchases. Upstairs, there's a large selection of womenswear and accessories from Chloé, Lanvin, Diane von Furstenberg, and Prada. Newcomers for 2007 include Grenson's handmade leather shoes for men and Zagliani handbags for the ladies. Downstairs, you'll find a fine selection of casual and formal menswear, from jeans (John Varvatos, Edun, Prps, Prada, Nudie, Rag & Bone, and Acne), retro Penguin polos, and Hvana cashmere tees to Miu Miu jackets, Prada suits, and Gucci shirts and ties. The younger and lighter of pocket should totter across the street to Matches SPY, which sells a diffusion of the main lines aimed at youthful women.
25 Savile Row
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Tel: 44 207 494 1716
Don't expect to walk into Oki-ni and leave with what you've bought. That kind of behavior is for regular people shopping in regular stores. Oki-ni, meaning "thank you" in the Japanese Osaka dialect, stocks limited-edition urban clothing, accessories, footwear, and electronic goods made exclusively for the shop by renowned labels and designers, such as Adidas, the Duffer of St. George, Evisu, and Pringle of Scotland. Customers who visit this Savile Row flagship storean understated white gallery-like space with industrial felt mats for seating and displaycan browse the products and try them on for size. Orders are placed either in-store or online, and delivered within a few days.
9 Albemarle Street
Tube: Green Park
Tel: 44 20 7493 4565
Paul Smith's Mayfair showroom sells the very best of the curios the designer finds on his travels. Italian ebonized-wood and bone chairs from the 1870s sit alongside an American 1970s steel table, and, somehow, it works. It's perfect for those who fancy a quirky period look but aren't inclined to rummage through antique fairs to get it. Of course, the dirty work done by Smith and his talented buyers comes at a price. A 1960s Charles Eames leather chair and ottoman, customized with a contemporary wooden back panel by English artist Sally Weekes, would cost you nearly six grand. But the ever-changing inventory does include more-attainable pieces, such as vintage sterling silver wallet pins for $10 (they're monogrammed, so good luck finding the right letters), a Bavarian teacup set for $175, or 1940s wallpaper for a mere $145 per roll.
400 Oxford Street
Tube: Bond Street
Tel: 44 870 8377 377
A big, big store that's well worth braving jam-packed Oxford Street for, Selfridges' late–20th-century reinvention as a fashion destination was total, and lasting. Its slew of departments includes home furnishings, books, toys, and electronic gizmos. And places to eat and drink (19 to date) serve everything from an £90 (about $175) sandwich of Wagyu beef, foie gras, and black truffle to a coffee on the run. But clothes and accessories are first and foremost on shoppers' wish lists. Bill Amberg, Cacharel, Christian Louboutin, Citizens of Humanity, Damaris (the lingerie department is especially good), Hussein Chalayan, Paul Smith, Veronique Branquinho, and Viktor & Rolf are a sampling of the names—for men and women. The men's department was renovated and expanded in May 2007, and carries a number of exclusive lines, such as Vivienne Westwood swimwear. The David Adjaye–designed Superbrand department—entered through a seductive blood-red corridor on the second floor—caters to shoppers hungry for high-end labels such as Chloé, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Marni, and more. Cheap, chic Ms Selfridge, on the ground floor, cherry-picks from every youth-centric brand out there.
42-44 Rivington Street
England EC2A 3QQ
Tel: 44 20 7739 3636
Start, in Shoreditch, is part of a mini fashion empire run by Philip Start (founder of Woodhouse menswear) and wife Brix Smith-Start (former guitarist with the Fall). Sure, this place has got your McQueens and your Wangs, but you really come here to push the envelope with up-and-comers like Jean-Pierre Braganza and the store's own Rivington Street label. Despite all this forward-looking fashion, there's a lived-in comfort and a whimsicality to the stores. Chunky cuffs sit in old museum cabinets with disco balls overhead. Along Rivington, the store has menswear (59 Rivington Street) and tailoring shops (40 Rivington Street). And the staff at all three could not be more helpful. They'll even offer you a spot of tea. Some things never change.—Colleen Clark
Open Mondays through Fridays 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 6 pm, and Sundays 1 to 5 pm.
193 King's Road
Tube: South Kensington
Tel: 44 207 376 3660
This place predates the vintage craze by just about forever, but still hits the spot. At first glance it's overwhelming—and at second and third, too—with its million pieces from the 1840s to the 1990s. Accessories are displayed on the upper floor, while garments organized by designer and era are downstairs. Amazing vintage outfits cover the walls like works of art, which of course, they are. Handbags and costume jewelry are overflowing, too. High prices don't put off London's stylish celebrities and fashion crowd, but less capricious spenders can sometimes dredge up a real find searching the racks of relative bargains kept below street level.
214 Oxford Street
Tube: Oxford Circus
Tel: 44 207 636 7700
This gigantic, frenetic store evolved a few years ago from behind-the-times high-street retailer to directional innovator with the mostest. Not only is it first with the couture knockoffs, Topshop sets its own trends, thanks to the eager, fresh-from-fashion-school talent this company is smart enough to hire. In addition to novel enticements for postteens—who go all the way up to at least their late 40s—the store now includes an ever-growing vintage department, a hot maternity line, and even collections from top designers (such as freeform pattern dresses and tops from 1960s textile impresario Celia Birtwell). There's also a personal-shopping service that delivers (in both senses). Best of all, the prices are little short of miraculous—even dollars seem to go pretty far, especially at sale time.
98 Portland Road
Notting Hill, W11
Tube: Holland Park
Tel: 44 207 727 9908
"Treasure trove" is a term bandied about all too often when it comes to vintage shops, but Virginia deserves it more than most. The presentation of exquisite women's apparel, dating from the late 1800s through the 1930s, is as impressive as the clothing itself. Downstairs has the air of a fine lady's boudoir, with fragile pieces in lace and chiffon, and tiny beaded shoes in white leatherleft as if their owner might sweep back in at any moment. Upstairs is all about impact and drama, with sequined or beaded evening dresses and colorful gowns. You won't find any bargains here, but if you're looking for an original piece that will hold its own on the red carpet, beat a path to the door.