Guide to shopping on Oxford street
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.
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.
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.
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.
Choose a shop on Oxford Street...
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.
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.
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.
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.