The 100 best shops in London: 70-61

Going shopping in London? Plan where to head with our round-up of the city’s finest retailers, from cheap vintage shops to world famous department stores

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70

Bernstock Speirs

Best for
Quirky hats

Don’t miss
The veil beanies

How much?

 

Hat-making duo Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs have been creating outrageous and playful headgear since 1982. In their shop-cum-atelier in Brick Lane you can buy many of the best designs from their archives, including the beanie with a veil, baseball cap with bunny ears and visor covered in mohair.

Known for decorating the heads of celebrities – the topless sunhat worn by a frizzy-haired Kylie on the cover of her 1988 album was down to them, and their hats have been spotted on Victoria Beckham and Tilda Swinton – Bernstock Speirs are dedicated to making hats for people to wear, not as sculptural pieces. Accordingly, prices are kept low (though these are technically designer accessories) and you can buy a cap for £65 or one of the iconic veiled bobble hats for £110.

  1. 234 Brick Lane, E2 7EB
  2. www.bernstockspeirs.com
    Shoreditch High St Overground
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69

Machine-A

Best for
Edgy new designer labels

Don’t miss
Ashely Williams’ cult fashion designs

How much?

 

Hats off (make it an Alex Mattsson baseball cap) to Machine-A for championing London’s most exciting emerging designers at its Soho concept store. Pieces by Ashley Williams, Nasir Mazhar, Peiran Gong, Shaun Samson, Agi & Sam, Louise Gray and Sibling practically sizzle with energy inside this small space. Meanwhile outside, its neon signage is a cheeky nod to its massage parlour neighbours on Brewer Street.

Owner Stavros Karelis’s former shop, Digitaria on Berwick Street, relocated here in early 2013 and has since introduced some slightly more mainstream brands such as Christopher Raeburn, Raf Simons and Chalayan. Nevertheless, this remains a natural habitat for the young, bold and brave.

  1. 13 Brewer St, W1F 0RH
  2. www.machine-a.com
    Oxford Circus tube
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68

Sunspel

Best for
Cool, quality cotton under garments

Don’t miss
The classic cotton T-shirts

How much?

 

Since 1860, this Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire-based brand has made big business out of premium yet pared-down pants – with not a Tweety Pie or Homer Simpson print in sight. With a steady history, its fine-rib Y-fronts, simple vests, boxers and briefs gained notoriety in the early 2000s, and in 2005 was snapped up by new owners who set about expanding Sunspel’s pants empire.

Since then, the brand has launched a womenswear range, worked with costume designers, set up exciting collaborations, opened retail stores in Marylebone, Spitalfields and Soho, and transformed the brand into a luxury label – with prices to match. Its Soho store on Old Compton Street is the antithesis of the showy, bulge-hoisting underwear shops it counts as its neighbours, with a simple natural wood shop fit and Sunspel's full collection of undies, vests and tees, Merino wool sweaters and some limited edition boxers.

  1. 40 Old Compton St, W1D 4TU
  2. www.sunspel.com
    Leicester Square tube
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67

Ben Day

Best for
Dazzling jewels

Don’t miss
The bespoke service

How much?

 

Ben Day was making exquisite jewellery using a kaleidoscope of coloured gemstones long before the glossies started shouting about sapphires being the new diamonds. You’ll find plenty of both at his beautiful Notting Hill boutique where luminous opals shimmer in mirrored cabinets alongside chains of black diamond beads.

Everything is handmade in the studio below the shop and, although you can buy off the shelf, bespoke is what Day does best. Love the green chrysoprase cocktail ring but have your heart set on purple? No problem. Thirty years of sourcing rare and beautiful stones ensures there’s no one better placed to track down that perfect hue.

Best of all, whether you’re a jewellery novice on the hunt for a spectacular engagement ring or a gem collector with a sky’s-the-limit budget, Day’s discretion, enthusiasm and down-to-earth manner make shopping here a pleasure.

  1. 3 Lonsdale Rd, W11 2BY
  2. www.benday.co.uk
    Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate tube
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66

Olive Loves Alfie

Best for
Inspiring kids’ labels

Don’t miss
The Saltwater sandals and Gloverall duffle coats

How much?

 

Stoke Newington stalwart Olive Loves Alfie’s creative approach to kids’ clothes and toys was an instant hit with local parents when it opened back in 2006, and owner Ashlyn Gibson hasn’t paused for breath since. As well as curating the boutique’s colourful kids’ fashion rails (lots of bold unisex designs by Mini Rodini, Bobo Choses and Kidcase) she’s launched her own collection of printed kimono shirts (£34.99) and perfect velvet party dresses, and, in October 2013, published ‘Creative Family Home’ (£19.99), an imaginative guide to family friendly interiors. You’ll find plenty of interiors focused stock in store too, with stunning kids’ furniture by XO–In My Room, sweet printed bed-linen By Nord Copenhagen (£45) and giant Miffy nightlights (from £120).

  1. 84 Stoke Newington Church St, N16 0AP
  2. www.olivelovesalfie.co.uk
    Stoke Newington rail
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65

Lock & Co Hatters

Best for
Beautiful British hats

Don’t miss
The original bowler hat and Victorian conformitor

How much?

 

Lock & Co Hatters is perhaps the most famous hat shop in the world, and certainly one of the oldest. The fact that it’s been here in St James since 1759 is a huge part of its charm. But it is also a very good hat shop. It has one of the most comprehensive selections of classic hats to be found anywhere in London: bowlers, top hats, homburgs, berets, panamas and a lot more besides. The big or small headed among you will be guaranteed to find one that fits and you can be assured of its quality. Finally, the company offers a free aftercare service for all of their hats. It has been known to repair and reshape hats up to 50 years old.

  1. 6 St James’s St, SW1A 1EF
  2. www.lockhatters.co.uk
    Green Park tube
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64

G Baldwin & Co

Best for
Old-fashioned herbal remedies and tinctures

Don’t miss
Their own-brand health and beauty range

How much?

 

As is proclaimed proudly on the shop’s red and gold frontage, G Baldwin & Co have been ‘purveyors of natural products since 1844’. Arguably London’s oldest apothecary, its original location was just a few doors down at 77 Walworth Road and at its peak there were 12 Baldwin branches across London.

This one remaining location has had staying power since the ’70s and has become something of an Elephant & Castle institution. It retains a nostalgic atmosphere thanks to the tinkling brass counter bell, personal service and floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves brimming with herbs, tonics, tinctures, aromatherapy oils, beauty products, health foods and supplements.

  1. 171-173 Walworth Rd, SE17 1RW
  2. www.baldwins.co.uk
    Elephant & Castle tube
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63

Fara Kids and Baby

Best for
Bargain children’s clothing

Don’t miss
Secondhand designer kidswear labels

How much?

 

Stumble unawares into this airy space on Ledbury Road and you could be forgiven for not clocking that it’s a charity shop. Part of the Fara charity’s 50-strong London chain, this is one of 13 outlets specifically focused on kids’ clothes. And as you’d expect from this part of town, the pickings are prime.

Stock is constantly changing but on a recent visit we effortlessly unearthed a handmade newborn matinée jacket (£10) and a Petit Bateau raincoat (£9) from the beautifully displayed baby rails. The adjacent kids’ room is similarly fruitful, with clothes from Bonton, American Apparel, Gap, Jigsaw Junior and Caramel Baby & Child at double-take prices. Meanwhile, the annex packed with great quality books and toys (from £1) will have you swearing never to pay full price again.

  1. 39-41 Ledbury Rd, W11 2AA
  2. www.faracharityshops.org
    Notting Hill Gate tube
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62

Circus

Best for
Original, affordable art and home accessories

Don’t miss
Creative in-store events

How much?

 

Smiling duo Binki Taylor and Tabitha Rout were early adopters when they moved into Brixton Village in 2009. Their cosy corner unit, decked out to resemble a log cabin, has since helped establish the market as a popular shopping destination. Their magpie eye for retro homewares, upcycled accessories, letterpress stationery and didn’t-know-you-needed-it-until-you-clapped-eyes-on-it knick-knacks (not to mention their thoroughly good conversation) certainly make for an addictive retail experience.

Mid-century pottery, artisanal jewellery, prints by local artists and handmade poetry books are ideal for gifts. And the pile of old copies of The Face stacked up in the corner makes for great Sunday afternoon browsing too.

  1. Unit 70, Brixton Village, SW9 8PR
  2. www.circusbrixton.com
    Brixton tube
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61

Albam

Best for
Cool, simple men’s classics

Don’t miss
The slim fit cotton shirts

How much?

 

With contemporary, pared-down British menswear having a bit of a renaissance, it's easy to forget who did it first – and best. When Albam opened in 2006 on Beak Street, it was a tentative bricks-and-mortar version of a Nottingham-based men's clothing brand, bravely going up against the high street heavyweights with a simple eight-piece collection of unfussy shirts, jackets, chinos and tees.

Eight years on and Albam has opened three other stores across London (Spitalfields, Covent Garden and Islington), has expanded far beyond their original mini-collection, and even includes ceramics, furniture and special collaborations in their edit. These days big ticket items like Shetland wool jumpers, floral printed cagoules and even quilts abound, but Albam can still pull off a tapered chino, crisp shirt and a brilliant basic tee.

  1. 23 Beak St, W1F 9RS
  2. www.albamclothing.com
    Oxford Circus tube
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Continue to numbers 60-51 in our list

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