London According To Cara - Favourite Shopping Desinations04:48
As Samuel Johnson famously said, "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." I always remember this quote when I visit the city because there is a lot of truth in it - even if you went sightseeing in London everyday I can guarantee there would still be something new to see every single time. Growing up a half an hour train journey away from the capital, I've spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years there however in recent years I have been visiting more and more and subsequently taking in more of the city's delights. I thought it would be fun to round up my favourite things about London in a new series so that my fellow Londonphiles can see what I love to do and alternatively if you're visiting for the first time can get an idea of some places to visit, shop and eat. First up is shopping, obvs. Remember to leave me comments down below and tell me some of your highlights of the city - I love finding new places!
Brick Lane to Liverpool Street - I first visited Brick Lane about a year ago after hearing about the American Apparel outlet being held there. Despite the event itself being disappointing, I fell in love with the area - it's gritty, grimy and very urban but you can spend hours walking around and taking in the amazing street art, wonderful shops and the very unique style of the inhabitants. If you're a keen vintage shopper head to Spitalfields Market, a huge indoor market chockablock with stalls selling clothing, jewellery and records. There is also a variety of boutiques ranging from well known brands such as Benefit to smaller shops such as Traffic People. If you wander further you will end up at Truman Brewery noticable by it's large chimneys that tower over the street. If you make your way into the brewery area you'll be acosted with a variety of shops including my personal favourite Rough Trade, an uber cool record store with an amazing variety of vinyls and CDs. There's also a coffee shop to recharge your batteries and the famous photobooth so you can capture a moment with your friends. Also around the area are several vintage shops and markets including a Beyond Retro store - have a wander and see what you can find...
Oxford Street - Every fashion lover will no doubt make time to visit Oxford Street when in town, and there's definitely reason for that. The famous street boasts mammoth stores of high street favourites such as H&M, River Island and Urban Outfitters but my personal hot spot is the humongous Topshop. Albeit overwhelming, the store is honestly akin to heaven - despite the array of clothing, accessories and handbags battling for attention there is a frozen yogurt bar and a Barry M section all on the first floor - unbelievable. Travel down to the bottom floor and you will encounter my personal favourite section - the concessions. As well as the mouthwatering selection of shoe-candy there is an Aladdins cave of beautifully embellished, brightly coloured and divinely made clothing from a host of uber-cool brands from Motel to The Ragged Priest. There's also some amazing vintage pieces to be found by rummaging the rails. While on Oxford Street make sure to pop into one of the many branches of Zara - I managed to snag a pair of faux leather shorts for a bargain 20 pounds, so make it your destination of choice when sale season begins. Although not on Oxford Street itself, the Salvation Army charity shop branch on Princes Street is only a few minutes walk away and well worth a look. Me and my sister recently went in and saw a whole host of pieces from Jaeger, Motel, Zara and Topshop for bargain prices. There's also an urban myth that Vogue employees give their cast offs to the shop, but keep that shtum, yeah?
Carnaby Street and Soho - Just off Regents Street and right next to the glorious Libertys you will find the Carnaby Street area of Soho. The streets form a wonderful labyrinth leading up to the eponymous street which is a spectacle in it's own right, with it's massive glittering signs that can only be compared to Christmas lights welcoming visitors to the shopping mecca. Super cool brands like The Kooples, Cheap Monday and Dr Martens all have stores there but make sure to pay a visit to Monki, a Swedish brand owned by the same people as H&M and And Other Stories. The shop in itself is extremely well designed, mirroring the pieces on sale there. Printed midi dresses share the rails with colour popping blouses and slogan sweatshirts, while fierce boots and quirky accessories line the wedding-cake-esque tiered tables. There's something for everybody from the minimalist to the bold-and-bright fashionista. If you're into streetwear pop down a few doors into Size with it's celebrity-approved brands and walls of kicks. If you venture down the side streets you will encounter quirky brands like Johnny Cupcakes and Drop Dead Clothing (a favourite from my "scene phase" whose new collection has been worn by megastars like Justin Bieber) and Lazy Oaf whose shop may be small but sure packs a punch. I love visiting the store and seeing what they have to offer. Batman motif shirts and crewnecks? Rad. Leopard print cat face crop tops? Sure. Hot dog design bodycon? Well, duh.
Covent Garden - Ashamed as I am to admit it I only discovered the sheer size of Covent Garden this year, previously not venturing from the boutiques (ie. Disney store) and street performers of the piazza as I thought there "wasn't much else". HOW WRONG I WAS. When exiting the station, turn the opposite way from the piazza and walk towards the main road (Long Acre) that leads down to Leicester Square. If you cross over you'll encounter Neal Street which will take you to the Seven Dials area. There you'll find a variety of shops from MAC and Urban Outfitters to more unique offerings such as quirky vintage haunt Pop Boutique, a one stop shop for cute tea dresses and faded slogan tees. There's also The Cambridge Satchel Company with it's structured classic arm candy in a dreamy selection of colours from chic black and oxblood to pastel blue and (my favourite) fluoro pink. Despite my earlier ramblings the true heart of the area is indisputably the piazza. Even though there are some big brands (Apple, I'm looking at you) there are also some places that are truly special. I love going up the stairs of the Moomin Shop and seeing the adorable merchandise based on the cult Finnish books. There is also an incredible Chanel store - enough said.
Camden Town - A place truly rooted in culture, Camden has become one of the hottest tourist destinations within London due to it's unique spirit and eclectic variety of shops, cafes and stalls. Rokit is a vintage shop on the high street (it also has stores in Covent Garden and Brick Lane) packed with unique pieces from sports jerseys to evening dresses and Grease-style leather jackets. It is often busy in there at weekends but it's well worth visiting to find a bargain. The Stables Market is another place that is often hoaching with tourists and shoppers alike but is a fantastic place to find something a bit different be it an authentic silk kimono, transparent booties or camouflage-anything. If you walk through the food stalls down the steps you'll encounter two large vintage stores - I recommend Retro World for crazy printed bomber jackets and shirts. For the fun factor, take a walk into the insane world of Cyberdog which is practically unmissable by it's gigantic robots outside. Fluorescent t-shirts and tutus wink at you from the racks, employees dance upon podiums and loud music that wouldn't be out of place at a rave thuds over the sound system. It's an interesting experience but one that sums up the essence of Camden and London as a whole.