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Oxford Street shops

Your guide to conquering Oxford Street's incredible shopping

Like it or not, Oxford Street is the main artery of London shopping. It’s not the place to head for independent shopping, as only massive brands can afford the rents attached to Oxford Street premises, but it is unrivalled in its offering of cheap high street shopping and jumbo department stores. Here are Oxford Street’s greatest hits.

Guide to shopping on Oxford street

Shopping

Marble Arch to Bond Street

This is the less frenetic third of Oxford Street, with the glamorous Selfridges providing a shoppers’ paradise of must-see labels, pop up shops and chic refreshment areas, and slightly quieter flagship branches for high street brands like River Island. That is until you get to the positively gigantic Primark store – the Marble Arch monster of cheap clothing, where sometimes the crowds make it difficult to even get in the door.

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Bond Street to Oxford Circus

This stretch of Oxford Street houses London’s department stores, lined up on the North side cheek-by-jowl. These have a comprehensive offering across the price spectrum – from the cheap and cheerless BHS to the trusted and much-loved John Lewis. If you can’t find the clothing, homewares or cosmetics you seek here, you’re not looking hard enough.

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Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road

As anyone who has got out at Tottenham Court Rd tube station looking for shops has probably discovered, this is the bleak end of Oxford Street. Particularly at the moment, with the area being dug up for interminable Crossrail works. A jumbo Primark is due to open here in early 2012 effectively book-ending the street with fast fashion – but in the meantime you’ll need to quick-march nearer Oxford Circus to get to the shops.

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Oxford Street map

Whether you're a seasoned London shopper or about to embark on your first trip to Oxford Street, plan your shopping itinerary with our downloadable map. It highlights the three key stretches of the street, travel information and shops including Selfridges, Topshop, H&M, Primark and Forever 21.

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American Apparel

This hipster bodywear brand has been clinging on to life for a little while now, despite persistent rumours of imminent bankruptcy. Since it opened its first shop in London some seven years ago, ethically minded US-import American Apparel has expanded at breakneck speed. The colourful, vaguely kinky, 1980s-inspired garb (leggings, figure-hugging jersey dresses, spandex leotards, skinny jeans, tracksuit bottoms, cheerleader-style knee-highs, gold headbands and a large range of tops) seemed to capture the spirit of recent times - at least as far as twentysomethings were concerned - with simple cuts, comfortable materials and affordable prices. The company first conquered with well-fitting cotton tees, then the nigh-on-perfect hoody that became the uniform of the East End trendy, and, more recently - in spite of their tendency to sag - with its nudge nudge, wink wink retro briefs.

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BHS

There are few large shops lining Oxford Street that we have walked through at 5pm mid week and encountered not one other customer on the shop floor. It’s easy to see why; this is the poor man of department store shopping. It offers brands widely available elsewhere (from the arcadia stable- Wallis, Evans, Dorothy Perkins), in a low rent shopping environment- with unflattering lighting, indifferent staff, and cheap looking shop fits. Despite all this, there are some unique selling points to the Oxford Street ‘flagship’- it is one of the few places you’ll now find good value tween brand Tammy- a saviour for fashion starved twelve year olds desperate for something on trend in their size. It also offers plenty of choice for the plus size market- something woefully absent almost across the whole of W1. There is nothing expensive in store, so it’s a good place for cash strapped families to shop- although we can’t promise any of the indulgent feeling you get from a traditional department store splurge.

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  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Debenhams

This accessible store is designed to bring fashion shopping to the every day customer- it is known for inviting fashion designers like Matthew Williamson, House of Holland and John Rocha to do cheaper (and boy do they look it) collections in store. There is none of the luxurious feel of shopping at John Lewis or Selfridges, product is crammed in, discount notices are splattered across the store, and the whole place is pervaded by a canteen smell emanating from the less than salubrious basement café. But despite all this, Debenhams has a loyal fanbase and prides itself on being an affordable one-stop shop covering all retail needs from fashion and beauty to homeware and electricals. The Oxford Circus branch can get a bit hectic - particularly around Christmas - but it also houses a wide range of Debenhams stock and, should you fail to find what you're looking for, it's handily located near to House of Fraser and John Lewis.

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Forever 21

This US chainstore arrived in Oxford Street in 2011, hoping to give Topshop a run for its money. The bright white lighting, and tightly packed rails of cheap andcheerful clothing mean it’s aimed squarely at the late teens/early twenties market (no-one else looks good in polyester under a fluorescent light). While competition for those monthly allowances is stiff on Oxford Street (Topshop, H&M, Miss Selfridge all already do a good job of servicing young ones with skinny jeans and R&B) Forever 21 has been a hit. Partly because the combination of reasonably priced, fast fashion and a noisily fun ambience is such a familiar one to Oxford Street shoppers- Forever 21 fits right in here. But it’s also worth noting that while Topshop and Zara prices have crept up of late, Forever 21’s really haven’t- you can still get dresses for £16. Making prices just a shade above those of nearby budget monster Primark- and without the adjacent concern that every cheapskate on the block will be wearing the same maxi dress.

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  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Gap

The American casual clothing giant has been a bit quiet of late, but it is worth remembering as one of the most civilised places on Oxford Street to shop. This store is large, well laid out (with all of the good stuff on the ground floor, and extras like underwear on first- in contrast to many Oxford Street stores who makes you wade through an initial floor of less appealing product to get to the ‘destination’ goods. Changing rooms are commodious, product is neat and tidy, and customer service is some of the best on the street. Stock up on quality denim, chunky knits, and the odd excellent collaboration; the Pierre Hardy shoes are seen on the feet of every fashion editor in town, while the Valentino collection was well priced and classic.

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H&M

Counter-intuitive layout, cluttered stock and awful lighting- The Oxford Circus H&M had been a disgrace for far too long. So in March 2013 the Scandinavian monster chain decided to get its flagship house in order and give thisfantastically well-located store a much-needed makeover. At last. The jumbled three floors have been replaced with a jumbo six floors of well-organised stock with a much more sophisticated store design. Thought has been put into creating a pleasant shopping environment - changing rooms are vast, and the music has clearly been curated by someone with a taste for credible indie. This has been designated a pure-fashion store- so it's out with H&M's kidswear and homewares, which in a way is a shame. However, it does mean that the focus of the store is clear, and its target audience the kind of fast-fashion gobbling teens who spill out of the nearby Topshop. In fact Topshop's influence is apparent in a few key areas, primarily a ground floor edit by blogger Susie Bubble - not disimilar to the one seen in the Topshop 'Edited by' are opposite just a few months ago. There is also a nice designated shoe boutique, with velvet banquettes and classy shop fit that is a real cut above their usual racks of slip-ons. While it's a vast improvement on its former guise, this is not H&M's best store (that honour goes to the Knightsbridge outpost). However, real effort has been put into make it a more civilised shop- and that makes it probably the best one on Oxford Street.

Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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House of Fraser

The London flagship branch of this reliably good department store chain has had a revamp of late. Well aware of the competition for Oxford Street shoppers’ footfall, House of Fraser have gone on something of a campaign to secure exclusives to edge its fashion offering above that of its neighbours. In recent years that has meant the HOF is the only stockist of the re-launched Biba line, including its lovely new lingerie line, a concept boutique by LOVE Moschino, East end thrift finders Assembly Vintage, Farrell by Robbie Williams (who launched the range in person). But arguably the jewel in the HOF crown is the Mary store- a wonderful shopping experience designed by retail guru Mary Portas to target the needs of the forty something stylish shopper. The department is reached via dedicated orange lifts (modestly recalling the garish shade of Madame Portas’s terrifyingly unmoving glossy bob). The stock, a mix of hand-picked grown up high street pieces from Whistles and J Brand along side Portas’s own name label, is beautifully presented. Customer service is the best on Oxford Street- with a uniformed bell boy on hand to fetch extra sizes to the changing rooms, and a ‘moan phone’ allowing you to leave feedback messages of congratulation or complaint. Plans to roll out the hugely successful ‘Mary’ concept across the UK are coming along predictably speedily, but for the time being you’ll find it only at House of Fraser Oxford Street. And for that reason, the main problem with the de

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  • 1 out of 5 stars
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Intimissimi

This unassuming lingerie shop at the wrong end of Oxford Street is full of surprisingly good lingerie at great prices. Italian brand Intimissimi has a big presence on home soil but for some reason never really took off in the UK, which is a shame as there is always plenty of pretty, quality underwear in this store. There isn’t much here apart from knickers and bras, but there is plenty of choice as far as they’re concerned- and sale time here is brilliant, with Stella McCartney inspired delicate bras for around £12, and multi buy offers on matching French knickers or thongs.

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Comments

2 comments
Adel
Adel

Very good place for shopping