For New Yorkers, London is an easy flight from JFK to Heathrow airport. One can easily spend a long weekend leaving on a Thursday and arriving Friday morning. You can be at your hotel by 11, shower and be out the door to begin your shopping excursion. What neighborhood? What department stores?? Which designers??? All valid questions to consider in London, as you really do need to strategize and figure out which neighborhoods you want to conquer. After all unlike the fairly easy island of Manhattan, London is quite large possessing various shopping districts depending on your mood and getting from one destination to another part of town can be quite time consuming.
If you been to London before chances are you’ve covered the main department stores like Harrods and Harvey Nichols, so no need to place those on your list. If department stores really are your thing then I would recommend Selfridges and Liberty. Selfridges is probably one of the coolest stores in the world with the flagship situated on Oxford Street. It’s second in size to Harrods’s and was founded in 1909. From it’s cutting edge window displays to it’s knack for carrying high-end brands like Rick Owens, DSquared and Alice Lee, Selfridges is not cheap, but worth a visit. Fashion Director, Durand Guion says to check out the men’s department, not only for cutting edge fashion, but also for its eclectic music that surrounds the department. Your Shazaam will be working overtime.
Liberty is not far away situated on the famed Regent Street. The iconic store is rather expensive, but worth checking out. The basement features a well-curated men’s department.
For truly progressive fashion visit the area known as London’s Eastside. My favorite district is Shoreditch, which features eclectic bars, restaurants and clubs including the Shoreditch House, which is part of the Soho House private membership club.
Shopping in London’s Eastside features unique boutiques and one-off designers. Sunday is the best day to visit as the streets are shut down featuring local vendors, outdoor markets and colorful food vendors featuring global cuisine like food from Sri Lanka. The neighborhood around Brick Lane is transformed into a hip neighborhood and a block party.
Shops to Hit
Junky Styling: For the most inventive fashion be sure and check out this boutique which features recycled fashion at it’s best. Unused and extra fabrics are sourced from high-end labels and then are reworked into bustiers, waist coats with hoodies, cuffs made out of lapels from suits, drop-cut trousers and sport coats with zippers. After trying on one of Junky Styling’s garments, you are then pinned and fitted so the piece is perfect for your body creating a custom fit. Garments can be left behind and shipped to you in your desired city. http://www.junkystyling.co.uk/
Justin Deakin: Walking into Justin Deakin’s shoe boutique is like walking into a masculine cigar den. From the cheetah taxidermy on the wall to the tufted leather couch and full set of drums that also acts as a display for Deakin’s handcrafted leather shoes, Deakin’s boutique is the new masculine/sophisticated shoe den for the 2012 gentleman. You’ll find sleek leather high top boots and an array of redefined spectator shoes. Don’t be surprised if the designer offers you a glass of bolly in a crystal champagne glass while you peruse the selection.
You ‘ll find a huge selection of vintage shops on the Eastside, including the largest vintage shop in London, Beyond Retro www.beyondretro.com You’ll need to devote a good chunk of your day in this neighborhood, but you’ll find the most innovative shopping in London plus stop and have lunch and a coffee.
Even though Oxford Street is probably the most famous street in London for shopping and includes popular chains you can find literally anywhere in the world, you’ll still want to devote some of your time to this street for selected fashion. For example, Top Man’s flagship is located here and carries the largest selection of fast fashion. European chains like Primark and Jack and Jones are all located here for trendy pieces you won’t find in America. My favorite is River Island that carries affordably priced fashion similar to Zara, but you’ll be bringing home fresh new fashion for your wardrobe. www.riverisland.com
Shopping in Covent Garden is similar to Oxford Circus in that you’ll find plenty of familiar retail chains you have back home. However, it’s still worth a visit as you’ll discover COS, the sophisticated older sibling to H&M. The lines are cleaner and the fabrics are quality driven. www.cosstores.com Elliot Rhodes features beautiful belts and buckles that you customize at the store creating your very own signature belt. You’ll find beautiful shades of burgundy, turquoise crocodile and lizard leather belts as well as sleek black belts as you pair it up with brushed metal buckles and plaque designs. Once you have your measurements you can order from anywhere online. www.elliotrhodes.com
There really is a tremendous amount of shopping to be done in London, but if you strategize a bit it can be done over the course of a long weekend. Don’t forget about your other shopping options, which include the flea market on Portobello Road as well as Camden Market, which features a very cool open-air market. Your nights can easily be filled with London’s theater scene – check out shows before they hit Broadway plus, dining has significantly improved over the last several years featuring lovely Spanish, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern options.