London’s reputation as a destination for contemporary fashion is on the rise. While names like Selfridges and Harrods have pioneered in the retail landscape for over a century, there are a wide range of other boutiques that are putting the British capital on the map when it comes to fashion, sneakers and streetwear.
London, Europe’s third-biggest metropolis is large enough to cultivate a broad spectrum of tastes, whether your palate is more inclined to sneaker shopping, browsing through artisanal homewares, perusing high-fashion labels, or skimming through curated consignment goods, while other hidden gems are dotted throughout the city. As with our past city lists, we’ve excluded retail flagships from the ranking (that means Supreme, Palace Skateboards, and so on).
Check out 20 London retailers that every Highsnobiety reader should know.
One of London’s best-known stops for sneakers and streetwear, Footpatrol first arrived on the scene in 2002, afterwards relocating to its current Soho space in 2010. This popular retailer is stocked to the rafters with a truly broad range of offerings, including limited releases, Japanese exclusives, classic sneakers and more.
For more background and a better look into the store check out our conversation with Footpatrol Brand Manager John Brotherhood.
Berwick Street Market, 80 Berwick Street
Founded in the ’70s, cult fashion store Browns Fashion recently opened the doors on its latest bricks and mortar location in Shoreditch, Browns East. Throughout its lifespan, Browns has showcased pioneering designers all-the-while boasting a strong heritage in innovation. The store has brought household names such as Calvin Klein, Sabine G., Armani, Ralph Lauren and Jil Sander to London, and continues to support local designers.
Browns Fashion, 24-27 S Molton Street
Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market is one of the most renowned fashion destinations on the planet. DSM opened its first doors in London, before locations later arrived in Tokyo, then New York. The shop was founded by Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe of avant-garde fashion label COMME des GARÇONS, and has proven itself season after season as a leader thanks to exclusive releases, smart collaborations, and unparalleled in-store installations.
Recently, the London location on Dover Street was shut down and relocated to a 31,000 square-foot space in Haymarket. To celebrate the occasion, buzzing Moscow designer Gosha Rubchinskiy was on hand to document the opening event.
Discerning London shoppers will already be familiar with the name Goodhood out of East London. Without favoring one style genre in particular, the shop purveys Japanese curiosities from Junya Watanabe MAN, retaW and Kuumba, core streetwear from C.E., FUCT and Wood Wood, as well as regional collection from Clarks Originals, Gasius and Dr. Martens. The shop also sells an in-house line aptly named Goods by Goodhood.
Don’t miss our street style with the Goodhood crew.
151 Curtain Road
London’s one-of-a-kind “Late Night Chameleon Cafe” space is home to a library, record store, gallery and even a club space. Featuring an international catalog of brands from mainstream designers to emerging new talent, LN-CC’s apparel offerings are supplemented by an enlightening range of collectibles including exclusive vinyl, a literature section featuring out-of-print and first-edition rarities, as well as audio hardware.
Not long ago, we sat down with creative director John Skelton and set designer Gary Card to learn about the store’s shift from appointment-only showroom to a full-time retailer.
18-24 Shacklewell Lane
Slam City Skates
It’s safe to say that London’s skate scene wouldn’t be the same without one particular institution: Slam City Skates. While there are two locations to be found in London today, it all started in 1986 at the now-shuttered Covent Garden location, not far from the new space.
Slam City’s team of OG London skaters, including first-movers Gareth Skewis and Greg Finch, paved the way for the likes of Palace Skateboards today, as well as other names that are forming the city’s burgeoning skate scene.
37 Endell Street
136 Bethnal Green Road
Since 2002, the crew at Oi Polloi has been stocking the best names in contemporary and classic menswear out of their Manchester headquarters. Apparently things have been going well at the shop’s Northern outpost, as Oi Polloi also expanded into a new London space just last year. They also dropped one of the freshest Reebok iterations in recent memory, collaborating with the longstanding British marque to revive the archival NPC UK II.
1 Marshall Street
Couverture & Garbstore
The brainchild of designers Emily Dyson and Ian Paley, London’s Garbstore opened in 2008. Located in a re-fitted period townhouse close to the well-liked Portobello Market, the concept store extends over three floors. Garbstore’s offerings are comprised of niche independent labels, exclusive collaborations and emerging talent.
Paley has been heading up an ongoing project with Reebok that has brought us a number of clever inside-out sneakers.
188 Kensington Park Road
Another esteemed British department store, Harvey Nichols was established in 1831, providing London’s high-brow clientele with imported goods, while in-house restaurants have also been a pillar of the franchise’s concept . In recent years, the chain has been effectively capitalizing via foreign market expansion, currently operating 16 various locations around the globe, from London to Dubai and Hong Kong.
2016 will see Harvey Nichols kickstart an multimillion dollar revamp of its presence in the menswear arena. Been Trill, Filling Pieces, A-COLD-WALL* and most recently Blood Brother have all been enlisted for Harvey Nichols collaborations over the past few years.
This historic London retailer was established on Regent Street in 1875, dealing mainly in rare oddities imported from Japan, and also purveying an in-house line of floral and graphic fabrics. Don’t be fooled by the shop’s antiquated exterior, as today brands like Nike and Dr. Martens are lining up to collaborate with the storied retailer, which has stepped up to compete with other respected retailers in London and across the UK by bringing in collections from Givenchy, Margiela, Tom Ford, and others.
This London-based Facebook re-selling group went on to become one of the most sought-after online resources in the country. Wavey Garms operates much like eBay, minus all the service fees and registration hassle. Once your request to join the online flea market-style group has been approved, users are able to buy and sell goods with the community. Boasting over 30K followers, the group has been credited with curating a localized London “look,” which is described as an alternative to over predominant trends in streetwear and fashion.
Dig deeper into the history of Wavey Garms.
5, Holdrons Arcade, 135A Rye Lane
A fixture in London’s company of storied department store brands, Selfridges was opened by the chain’s namesake entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909. The store’s Oxford Street flagship is the second largest retail space in the UK, following Harrods, and in the past has been home to pop-up spaces with clothsurgeon, Rick Owens, OFF-WHITE and others.
In 2013, the store’s history was dramatized in a TV series titled Mr. Selfridge.
400 Oxford Street
A great entry-level shop for many sprouting sneakerheads, size? not only operates a handful of shops across the UK, but also runs doors across Europe. As well as being a seasoned veteran in the European retail climate, size? also brings some great collaborative projects to the table, not limited to apparel and footwear partnerships with Vans and FILA.
37A Neal Street London, Covent Garden
32-34 Carnaby Street
200 Portobello Road, Notting Hill
The Other Side of the Pillow
Essentially a shoppable museum for fans of a certain iconic California footwear company, The Other Side of the Pillow is a London-based retailer than specializes in purveying vintage Vans. The store’s catalog is largely comprised of early Vans models – from the days when Vans preferred numerical designations like “Style 36” or “Style 25” over the handles we know today.
161B Lower Clapton Road
Up until early 2016, Hostem occupied a brooding retail space on London’s Redchurch street, offering a distinctive breadth of luxury labels from around the world. However, just last February, the shop’s award-winning space was closed down to make way for Hostem’s fresh new outpost on Old Nichol street. The store’s mixed brand list includes the likes of Italian footwear brand Guidi, LA luxury lifestyle imprint The Elder Statesman, and goods from Berlin conceptual artist Simon Freund.
28 Old Nichol Street
Synonymous with London’s world-famous high streets, Harrods is arguably the most famous of all British department store chains. From couture to furniture and homewares to food and drink, if it’s quality, you’ll find it here.
The store was founded in 1834, while Harrods’ script typeface was later added in 1967. While the store doesn’t dip its pen in contemporary fashion as much as its competitor Selfridges, Harrods always stocks a range of exclusive goods from British favorites like Burberry and Ted Baker, as well as other international labels.
87-135 Brompton Road
Machine-A is an independent concept store for men and women in London’s Soho district. Machine-A’s philosophy is very forward-thinking, as the shop showcases only the most progressive collections from Japanese brands like C.E. and UNDERCOVER, as well as local inclusions from London-based Craig Green and Marta Jakubowski.
A selection of fine art complements Machine-A’s ready-to-wear offerings, while the shop’s e-commerce is hosted in partnership with Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio.
13 Brewer Street
A cache of homegrown labels like Cottweiler, Liam Hodges and Nasir Mazhar, Primitive London endeavours to work outside the confines of a typical retail establishment, hosting pop-up installations, art exhibitions and even creating original content that populates the site’s “Read” section.
The Primtive concept first got its legs as a collective in 2010, founded by Andrew Grune and Lui Nemeth, while the store itself was added in 2011, followed by an in-house merchandise range that was added in 2012.
73-75 Shacklewell Lane
Certainly of note for our Selectism readers, Present London offers one of the smartest scopes of understated menswear in the city. The store specializes in grownup labels and daily staples, including heritage brands like Pendleton and Blundstone juxtaposed against modern marques including Japan’s Bedwin & the Heartbreakers and skate label Alltimers.
Don’t miss the shop’s in-house range of low-key accessories like scarves and gloves manufactured in Scotland.
140 Shoreditch High Street
HUH. Store in Dalston, East London is an extension of a longstanding online and print publication of the same name Inside the diminutive shop you’ll find both men’s and women’s clothing from labels like Norse Projects, Carhartt WIP, Herschel Supply Co. and more.
HUH. also shelves a range of homeware goods and a selection of complimentary publications for you to thumb through while sipping a freshly roasted coffee from local roasters Caravan.
56 Stoke Newington Road
Aspiring to narrow the gap between art and fashion, London retailer Layers has quickly garnered acclaim for sourcing an intriguing mix of avant-garde and artisanal mens and womenswear designers from around the world. The space is lauded as a meeting point where fashion, art, music and literature can meld in one of London’s most compelling concept spaces.
The Layers platform also underpins new and young talent, offering more unknown designers a platform to showcase their work. Shopers at Layers will find brands like Issey Miyake and Yang Li alongside lesser known names like Songs for the Mute and Horisaki.
- Image Credits: HUH. Store (via Wonderland), Layers (via https://www.instagram.com/ukfred50/), Present (via UrbanJunkies),base Harrods (via thethreef.com/it), Liberty (via kristikrass.com), Machine-A (via timeout.com/showstudio.com)