Destination: England: London
The London shopping scene is as diverse as the city itself. No other city offers such contrasting shopping, and British style is renowned for its eccentric individualism (think Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Alexander McQueen). This is not to say that mainstream fashion is forgotten. At the high end, Bond Street and Sloane Street stores have all the usual A-List labels, while at the cheap-but-chic end, the competitive British High Street (Oxford Street, Kensington High Street, King’s Road) is packed with chain stores that replicate catwalk looks within weeks of the fashion shows. The best of these are Topshop, Accessorize, Warehouse and Oasis, plus imports such as H&M, Mango and Zara. So successful are these stores that top designers and celebs are willing to create cheap diffusion lines especially for them – Stella McCartney and Madonna both did lines for H&M and Top Shop showcases hot new design talents like Emma Cook and Peter Jensen. But don’t forget to mix it up—that’s what’s hot right now. Individual style which steers away from the homogenous looks of global branding is far more respected than dressing head-to-toe in Burberry, which explains why London’s off-beat boutiques and the vintage and thrift scene are all thriving. Seeking out unique items is what shopping in London is all about, and not just when it comes to fashion. Delve into the side streets of the city’s distinctive neighborhoods and you will find an exceptional array of antiques, housewares, beauty products, gourmet goodies and bijou jewellery stores. Included here are what we consider three of very best areas for shopping, each easily negotiated by foot, and each offering a different flavor of this vast melting pot of creative forces. They are by no means the only shopping venues—London is vast after all. Covent Garden is full of young, streetwise stores; Islington is hot on the eco-scene; Borough Market, one of London’s oldest food markets, is worth a trip in itself; and St James’s and Pimlico offer world-class antique shops. However, we highlight the following neighborhoods because they offer so much style and variety in a concentrated space. Grab hold of your credit cards and just forget about that pesky exchange rate.
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