Best shopping websites

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We round up the best online shops for clothing, accessories, gifts and more

Don't fancy braving the crowds on Oxford Street or navigating bustling East End boutiques? Keep shopping simple with our round-up of the best shopping websites, from luxurious fashion e-tailers to quirky gift stores.

  • Asos

    This decade-old online store, based in London but with vast international reach, rivals Net-a-Porter for scale and success. Well chosen, mid-range brands for men and women have a youthful, trend-based feel – and artful projects and designer collaborations adding the quirk. Unlike its competitors, Asos also sells its own brand of clothing and accessories for men and women which is just as strong as the well-known labels it showcases. It wins points for its slick interactivity, too – shoppers can build mood boards, link them to profiles, upload street style shots and can even buy and sell handpicked vintage fashion via ASOS Marketplace. Best of all are its flash sales, discounts and free return policy.

  • John Lewis

    Where would we be without dear old, never knowingly undersold John Lewis? This classy department store offers a complete suite of everything for the home – furniture, gifts, kitchens, carpets, books, electronics, fashion, garden furniture and fitness equipment. But what separates it from the other online retailers is the complete trust shoppers have in the brand – when you’re buying something and you don’t want it to break, you buy it from John Lewis. As well as trusted, quality brands, John Lewis has a dependable line of own-brand products offering good value, and great customer service as standard – buy a washing machine, and you can expect John Lewis’s team to connect it for you and swiftly remove its predecessor – while smiling as they struggle down the stairs with it.

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  • LN-CC

    If you’re serious about your fashion, and by that we mean esoteric, cerebral brands like Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and Raf Simons rather than your common or garden Gucci, then LN-CC is the shopping site for you. Filling the gap in the e-tail market for an online concept store, LN-CC is London-based but delivers hard-to-find, edgy labels from the whole world over, to the whole world over. Its reputation as a visionary shopping site is rapidly increasing – and rightly so, with truly ahead-of-the-curve here in spades. While a lot of designer clothing is only for those with serious budgets (A deconstructed coat might set you back a few grand) you can pick up bits and pieces for under £100, including books and records chosen by counterculture art, photography and design bookseller Conor Donlon. And it’s well worth checking in at sale time when discounts are generous.

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  • Mr Porter

    In early 2011, Esquire editor Jeremy Langmead decamped to this retail giant, the rather refined brother site to Net-a-Porter, overseeing its editorial output and international launch. He’s created a slick online magazine (closer in look and feel to lauded style magazine Fantastic Man than Esquire) with lush imagery, quirky style tips and an impressive selection of the upper echelons of luxury menswear. There are few mid-range or cult labels here – instead big brands like Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Brioni and Lanvin abound.

  • My Wardrobe

    Instantly wearable, chic clothes make up My Wardrobe’s USP – there’s nothing too risky here, rather an edit of lovely clothing from which anyone will find something they like. Brands like Acne and Marc by Marc Jacobs share the virtual rails with Paul Smith and Barbour, with a small sideline in jewellery and gifts. Founded in 2006 by Crouch End boutique owner Sarah Curran, My-Wardrobe is now an international concern – shipping all over the world.

  • Net-a-Porter

    This glossy, luxurious fashion e-tailer is the giant of online style. Founder Natalie Massenet is as in-demand as Anna Wintour at fashion week, and there isn’t an important luxury fashion brand that you won’t find at Net-a-Porter. Exclusives abound, from Victoria Beckham-designed dresses you won’t find in any other shops (high street or online) to interviews with the stars of the style industry. And it’s not just buying and selling that NAP does impeccably – its weekly fashion mag is non-pareil, and its video interviews and fashion week coverage are as classy as its hot-off-the runway collections.

  • Not On The High Street

    This gifty webshop is what online buying is all about. Not On The High Street draws together a vast network of small product designers to sell exclusive quirky stuff you won’t find in the shops. Lots of the products are available in personalised form, from wittily captioned aprons to monogrammed leather accessories. And more or less everything is reasonably priced. The nice thing about the site is it’s really a massive selling forum for small sellers – who pay for the privilege of using Not On The High Street as a shop window. Your products come from the small labels that came up with them, and your money goes straight back to them – minus a commission for the web shop – which seems only fair.

  • Oki-Ni

    Menswear – but not as you know it. London-based Oki-Ni deals with ultra-rare, hard-to-find labels, limited=- edition sneakers and clever accessories. If sites like Mr Porter look after well-known luxury brands, it’s Oki-Ni (and LN-CC) that hunts out the real rarities (often with am eye-watering price to match). Well-known stylists are invited to create edits of Oki-Ni’s stock, creating beautiful imagery: the overall user experience is slick and simple. We’ve heard rumours of a London Oki-Ni retail space opening in 2012. If it's official you'll be the first to know…

  • The Outnet

    Like its glossier older sister Net-a-Porter, The Outnet is an exercise in excellence at selling clothes online. The concept behind the site is simple, but dangerously effective if you’re of a fashiony persuasion. Stock is comprised of previous seasons' designerwear – a lot of which comes from Net-a-Porter, a lot of which comes from a global network of connections at the top end of the industry. That means if you’re not one of the minority of buyers obsessed with buying products straight off the catwalk, you can buy beautiful designer garments at a fraction of their original price. The range of brands on offer is vast, from Acne to Zac Posen, and you’ll often find last season’s must-have dress or boots at less than half the amount you would have paid just a year ago. The site is also great at merchandising, with the option to shop by occasion, or buy from flash sales and promotions.

  • Urban Outfitters

    This American import – with mega-stores across the UK – has cultivated a brilliantly indie aesthetic, but it’s UO’s online store that has improved exponentially in recent times. It’s slick functionality means it’s easy to find its strong edit of general stock and a ‘boutique’ area is full of exclusive pieces with Brit designers like Peter Jensen and US brands like Pendleton. It’s strong on gifts too – genuinely interesting oddities alongside music and books. Check out UO’s more feminine sister brand Anthropologie – for more womenswear, homeware and accessories with a rather frilly (but beautiful) edit of stock.


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