London high street secrets revealed

London style’s not just about posh designers: the chains have some great pieces if you know where to look. Here are the fashion buys too good to miss

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  • Muji

    This Japanese export is best known for providing almost absurdly minimalist storage solutions, but its rails of low-cost fashion classics contain hidden gems. ‘Muji’s Breton striped T-shirts are as good as the ones you get by premium brands like St James, Orcival and Armor Lux,’ says menswear author and style expert Alfred Tong. ‘They use that quality, papery cotton that hangs just right.’

    www.mujionline.co.uk

    Muji
  • & Other Stories

    H&M-owned style label & Other Stories poached designers from more than 35 Paris- and Stockholm-based brands, including Acne and Sonia Rykiel, to oversee its fashion. They put the emphasis on originality and quality, particularly when it comes to the accessories – which are some of the best on the high street. All their leather shoes and bags are made in Italy (the home of premium leather manufacture) and start from just £12.

    www.stories.com

    & Other Stories
  • Uniqlo

    Uniqlo’s cashmere is made in the Tibetan Himalayas using pampered goats (happy goats = good quality cashmere, apparently). It’s the best of the best, and amazing value to boot.

    www.uniqlo.com

    Uniqlo
  • Marks & Spencer

    Our beloved M&S still harbours some of the high street’s best buys – you just have to hunt for them. Our favourite departments? Coats and shoes, where, if you sift through the drab styles, you can find incredible, great-value buys. This autumn sees the launch of M&S’s sumptuous Best of British range, featuring elegant shirts made right here in Hackney. The recently revamped beauty selection includes high-end brands like Miller Harris and Nuxe at very purse-friendly prices, too.

    www.marksandspencer.com

    Marks & Spencer
  • Hobbs

    Yes, you did read that right. No longer a brand reserved for middle-aged middle-Englanders, but a secret wardrobe weapon for very cool shoes and boots. Created by independent London-based shoe designer Olivia Morris, whose elegant footwear is highly coveted, Hobbs’ made-in-Italy shoe range bespeaks her classy but offbeat aesthetic. It includes patent leather tassell loafers, mid-heeled ankle boots and suede Chelsea boots. We love ’em all.

    www.hobbs.co.uk

    Hobbs
  • Uniqlo

    Yep, them again. Uniqlo’s jeans are also great quality – unsurprising considering they’re made by the same supplier as J Brand’s. The black stretch skinnies are the best in the business – fashion consultant and PR Mandi Lennard agrees: ‘I’ve got three pairs of black skinny jeans from Uniqlo on the go,’ she says. ‘The fit is perfect and they don’t fade in the wash. They’re a wardrobe staple and pretty much underpin all my designer stuff.’

    www.uniqlo.com

    Uniqlo
  • Cos

    Since its launch on London’s Regent Street in 2007, Cos (Collection of Style) has become the fashion pack’s favourite label. Karin Gustafsson (head of womenswear) and Martin Andersson (head of menswear) put emphasis on simple shapes and quality fabrics. Cotton shirts for both sexes are bestsellers, and this season, buttersoft lamb’s leather pieces are as good as designer versions costing four times as much. Their kidswear offers a concise but stylish selection of mini-me garb, from £12 for a top.

    www.cosstores.com

    Cos
  • Topshop

    ‘I live in Topshop socks,’ says Fashion East and Lulu & Co director, Lulu Kennedy. ‘It does the best novelty ones – I’ve got baby pandas, puppies, dinosaurs – I love them! They appeal to my childish side and make me happy when I put them on in the morning.’ But it’s not just the socks, as Sasha Wilkins, (blogger Liberty London Girl), testifies: ‘Topshop sunglasses are remarkably indestructible!’

    www.topshop.com

    Topshop
  • Whistles

    Ever since Jane Shepherdson took over as chief executive five years ago, the Brit brand, established in 1978, has gone from strength to strength. Shepherdson, formerly brand director at Topshop, strikes just the right balance of edginess and wearability. Whistles’ leather biker jackets, from £295, and made in Italy, are top investment pieces.

    www.whistles.co.uk

    Whistles
  • H&M

    Bypass H&M’s jumbly womenswear and head straight to the kids’ department for an array of punchy clothing for children aged 0-16. Its design-led ‘All for Children’ range sells out each season.

    www.hm.com

    H&M
  • Zara Home

    The Spanish brand has been a style staple since it landed on our shores in 1998, partly because its mark-up is much lower than many other high-street names, meaning you get far more fashion bang for your buck. Their homeware offers exceptionally good value, and the Egyptian percale cotton bed linen is rumoured to be made by the same people who supply linens brand Sheridan. Zara is also where Manolo Blahnik buys his bedspreads.

    www.zarahome.com

    Zara Home
  • Gap for men

    Head straight for the Gap menswear department like Vogue contributing editor Alexa Chung, who tells us, ‘I love Gap for affordable men’s sweaters.’ Others love the jeans, including blogger Sasha Wilkins of Liberty London Girl. ‘Gap denim is really well cut, and always spot-on,’ she says. ‘I’ve lived in my boyfriend jeans all summer.’ Gap always stocks up on kidswear when a new designer collaboration launches.

    www.gap.co.uk

    Gap for men
  • Jigsaw

    Quietly conservative Jigsaw is the Kate Middleton of the high street (it’s no surprise she once worked there). As you might expect, its real draw is the quality and craftsmanship of its fabrics. You might not be prepared for just how good that quality is, though – their tweed is manufactured at Linton Mill in Cumbria, which also produces tweed for Chanel; plus, Jigsaw sources its leather from the factories that supply Burberry and Belstaff. Brit designer Giles Deacon is a fan of its cool menswear.

    www.jigsaw-online.com

    Jigsaw

Muji

This Japanese export is best known for providing almost absurdly minimalist storage solutions, but its rails of low-cost fashion classics contain hidden gems. ‘Muji’s Breton striped T-shirts are as good as the ones you get by premium brands like St James, Orcival and Armor Lux,’ says menswear author and style expert Alfred Tong. ‘They use that quality, papery cotton that hangs just right.’

www.mujionline.co.uk


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