Shopping in London is one of the top three most popular activities with visitors to the United Kingdom.
That’s not surprising, given the city’s unofficial status as global fashion capital. From the swinging 60s (the miniskirt was invented here), to 70s punk and the Britpop influences of the 90s, London has defined fashion trends for decades and continues to offer shoppers almost unending choice.
Shop ’til you drop with our ultimate London shopping guide.
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Central London: Soho, Mayfair and Knightsbridge
World-famous Oxford Street is London’s main retail hub — and with over 500,000 visitors daily, it’s also the busiest shopping strip in Europe. Start at the Soho end, where you’ll find the flagship stores of a multitude of high profile fashion labels. International brands like Zara and H&M sit side by side with home-grown favourites including Next and River Island. Discount fashion chains Primark, Forever 21, and Miss Selfridge offer well-priced on-trend accessories.
While Topshop struggled to establish itself in Australia, its flagship store at London’s Oxford Circus is a fashion mecca and is much-loved by models, fashion editors, and other ‘cool girl’ cliques. It offers a dizzying array of affordable runway-to-rack collections, and collaborations with London Fashion Week designers.
Guys, for a dose of Britannia style, check out cool Carnaby Street. Tees from Ben Sherman, Fred Perry’s signature polo shirts and anything from iconic designer Paul Smith will satisfy your sartorial needs.
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Once you’re done in Soho take a stroll along Mayfair’s Mount Street, which is fast overtaking Bond Street as the epicentre for elite designers. Peek into Marc Jacobs, Christopher Kane and Balmain, and perhaps try on a pair of red-soled skyscraper heels at the Christian Louboutin shoe boutique.
From there, slip down to Knightsbridge where famous department stores Harrods and Harvey Nicks are essential retail ports of call. Top luxury labels like Chloe, Dior, Hermes, Prada and Tom Ford congregate just around the corner on Sloane Street.
West London: Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove
Notting Hill was immortalised in the Hollywood movie of the same name starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. It’s frequented by fashion royalty and you may spot the likes of designers Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham, and supermodel Claudia Schiffer. The famous Portobello Road Market (held Fridays and Saturdays) is one of London’s best street markets and offers a treasure trove of vintage and pre-loved fashion.
For French fashion without having to cross the channel, head to Westbourne Grove and browse the chic daywear on offer at Sandro or The Kooples. You’ll find getup fit for a rock-star at Zadig et Voltaire.
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The grungy East End is the place to be for one-of-a-kind fashion finds. Shoreditch is home to Boxpark — the world’s first pop-up mall. It’s constructed entirely of refurbished shipping containers and filled with cafés, galleries and an eclectic mix of fashion brands. Swing by the All Saints flagship store on nearby Commercial Street; it’s a very cool native brand with strong music ties.
While you’re on this side of town, pay a visit to Old Spitalfields Market. London’s oldest covered market offers a mix of vintage and current fashions, and you’ll have great fun rummaging for boho bargains.
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Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Cindy Bingley-Pullin is a Sydney-based freelance writer, wanderluster, corporate bee, and happy homemaker. In between analysing spreadsheets in the office, she pursues her combined passions of travel and writing. Cindy’s work has appeared in Virgin Australia’s Voyeur magazine, International Traveller, Fitness First magazine, and the Sydney Morning Herald.