The Fresher’s Guide to a Fashionable London (Part 2)

Navigate London’s vast fashion scene with The Tab

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New to London and hoping to feel inspired by the city’s vibrant and innovative fashion culture? Want to advance your fashion explorations further afield from the crowded and clichéd Oxford Street? Check out these slightly less mainstream and personal favourite corners of London for a unique shopping or window-shopping experience.


Acne Studios13 Dover Street W1S 4LN

Closest Tube: Green Park

This Swedish brand is pricey but its effortless, minimalist, quietly sophisticated collection makes it a great browsing destination. No wonder Acne has fast become a favourite among fashion editors and stylists. Prepare to lust over their Autumn/Winter leather shearling jackets, asymmetric dresses and famous ‘Pistol’ boots. Set in a Georgian townhouse, the pared-down shop décor echoes the Scandinavian aesthetic of clean lines with its maple floors, glass showcase cabinets, full-length mirrors and windows creating an airy space full of light. The yellow grand piano at the entrance level adds a quirky touch to the general browsing experience.


Aesop91 Mount Street W1K 2SU 

Closest Tube: Bond Street

The Australian skin and hair care brand ditches the excessive packaging and marketing of more mainstream consumer beauty products. Visiting their stores is a fun observation in itself; definitely no-frills, you will simply see rows and rows of identical brown bottles reminiscent of ointment or pill bottles, orderly arranged in OCD-like fashion. Ironically, the shop resembles an apothecary’s storehouse or laboratory and adopts a scientific appeal with its large beakers of colour coded tubes of body lotion, yet Aesop stresses that the use of natural ingredients is the core of the brand. The Mayfair branch contains a unique circular sink taken from an old fish paste factory.


Burlington Arcade51 Piccadilly W1J 0QJ

Closest Tube: Green Park

The iconic covered shopping arcade dates back to 1819 and has housed niche luxury goods brands and fine jewellery ever since. More of a gazing and ogling experience rather than making purchases, Burlington Arcade is nonetheless a quintessential London must-see. Make sure you walk past the Lulu Guinness shop with her quirky Brit style and popular ‘lip’ clutches on display, or grab a macaron from the gold-encrusted Ladurée store.

Other places of interest next to the arcade:

The legendary – Saville Row

The hot models – flagship A&F store

The art – The Royal Academy of Art, Hauser & Wirth, Cork Street galleries

The fashion-art – Nick Knight’s Show Studio and Shop

The books – Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop


Carnaby StreetW1F

Closest Tube: Oxford Circus

You’ve heard of the quirks of Carnaby Street where Swedish brands Monki and Cheap Monday have set up shop. But wander along the streets off or parallel to Carnaby Street – with the likes of Lazy Oaf, Ollie and Nic and Lomography, it will remind you of the back streets of Covent Garden.


The Cloth House47 Berwick Street W1F 8SJ

Closest Tube: Oxford Circus

If you like sewing and a bit of nostalgia, head to The Cloth House nestled behind Oxford Street. Stocking fabrics with quaint little patterns imported from around the world, as well as an extensive range of buttons, ribbons and the sort, the cute shop with it’s creaky floorboards and vintage Singer machines is a must-see. Nearby is trimming and studs shop Klein’s, and stroll down Berwick Street with its rows of haberdashery and art shops including Cass Art – a go-to destination for a wide selection of art materials on generous student discount offer.


Dover Street Market17-18 Dover Street W1S 4LT, Image 1

Closest Tube: Green Park

A personal favourite, DSM is far from a street market as its name suggests. The brainchild of Commes des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street Market is a multilevel ‘creative space’ stocking everything from Commes des Garcons to Alaia. The concept store would blow the bank account if you were to make a purchase, but it is a window shopper’s paradise with its innovative and artistic interior décor. Pop to the fifth floor Rose Bakery (a branch of the Paris café) for a quick and delicious brunch.

Rei says “I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision.”


LibertyGreat Marlborough Street W1B 5AH

Closest Tube: Oxford Circus

Smaller and less glitzy than its fellow iconic London department stores, Liberty is a preferred destination because of its unique setting in a distinct mock-Tudor building. Due to it’s relatively small size, it is extremely selective when it comes to what fashion lines it stocks – you can find the likes of Rag and Bone, Isabel Marant and other trendy young labels there among its downstairs ‘scarf hall’ and fantastic haberdashery department selling jam jars of felt buttons and, of course, the acclaimed Liberty print fabrics.  


Opening Ceremony  – 35 King Street WC2E

Closest Tube: Covent Garden

Hailing from New York, Opening Ceremony has finally arrived in the UK to the relief of London fashionistas. The celebrated shop is the project of UC Berkeley graduates Humberto Leon and Carol Lim who stock designers from the cutting edge of fashion such as Alexander Wang. During the London 2012 Olympic Games, the pop up version of the store created a downstairs space for Claire de Rouen Books. The store is near other shops that have recently appeared in the Covent Garden area; the Chanel pop up beauty store, collegiate fashion inspired Rugby Ralph Lauren, youthful Burberry Brit and the new Apple store.


Other Criteria14 Hinde Street W1U and 36 New Bond Street W1S

Closest Tube: Bond Street (for both locations)

Treat this like a visit to an art gallery that doubles as a shop as you get a taste of Damien Hirst and other contemporaries.


Marylebone High StreetW1U

Closest Tube: Baker Street

A pretty street with a neighbourhood feel, Marylebone is home to numerous chic cafes and equally chic boutiques such as KJ’s Laundry, Ash and Sandro. Also located here – the famous Conran Shop, Skandium, Space NK, and the best-of-British Cath Kidston flagship store. It is worth checking out the Daunt Books shop set within an original Edwardian building and complete with wood panelling throughout, giving the feel of an Oxbridge library.


South Molton StreetW1K

Closest Tube: Bond Street

All the what I refer to as ‘The French brands’ on one street: Sandro, Maje, Zadig et Voltaire, The Kooples, Comptoir des Cotonniers as well as the famously pioneering but expensive Browns. Butler & Wilson jewellery shop is also here as well as plenty of shoe shops like Author, and Pretty Ballerinas and French Sole round the corner. Even if you aren’t here to buy, come to look – the pedestrianized area makes it even more appealing.


Tatty Devine44 Monmouth Street WC2H

Closest Tube: Covent Garden

Plastic jewellery doesn’t get much better than this. This bubblegum pink shop is where you can make a fashion statement with some quirky shapes, such as moustache necklaces and diamond-shaped rings. Monmouth Street is one of the Seven Dials of Covent Garden and this whole network of backstreets cannot be missed. Earlham Street is where you can find All Saint’s discount store and check out Neal Street, and the East Colonnade Market where there are fun shops like David and Goliath and Pylones. You’ll also find Covent Garden’s Apple Market here where stalls sell a vast array of merchandise from Beatles t-shirts and handmade jewellery to framed pictures and homemade cakes. Head to Cyber Candy on Garrick Street for American confectionary that is rarely stocked elsewhere. Pop tarts and Reese’s Pieces anyone?


Wardour News118-120 Wardour Street W1F 0TU

Closest Tube: Oxford Circus

This is one of the best-stocked newsagents for fashion and art magazines in a rather sleek setting, making it an ultimate favourite. And nearby is the Vintage Mag Shop of Soho. Another recommended newsagents closer to home with a great range of fashion publications is Charlotte Street News.