Carnaby Street may get all the attention, but Newburgh Street was once home to the shop credited with kickstarting the ’60s fashion revolution. ‘Vince’ was the pseudonym of photographer Bill Green, and his shop of the same name (which opened in 1954) specialised in risqué images of the male physique when homosexuality was still illegal. It also sold skimpy, flamboyant garments for the lads that provided an alternative to drab post-war suits, and became popular with a predominantly gay clientele. One of Vince’s sales assistants, John Stephen, went on to dress The Beatles, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.
Vince kicked off the sartorial tradition in this bit of the West End, which has since become known as a hotbed of subcultural fashion. Punks, mods, skinheads and new romantics all clustered here, and although London’s alternative side has been more or less banished from Zone 1 by now, this corner of Soho is still known for indie fashion stores, lifestyle boutiques and experimental street styles.
So if the chains on Carnaby Street aren’t for you, pace the villagey cobbles of Newburgh Street and discover, behind its stylish shopfronts, a wealth of heritage labels, offbeat emporia and low-key foodie pitstops. And look out for Vince’s green plaque at number 5.
Friday pints on the cobbles outside the White Horse.
Cups of the strong brown stuff at Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, round the corner on Lowndes Court. It’s a mini chain that’s equally serious about quality beans and humanitarian work.
Whisky from cut glass, while listening to vinyl, sitting on Bentley-made leather chairs and getting a cut at gentleman’s club-style barber Pankhurst. It’s a total broasis.
Pork belly or mushroom and truffle dumplings at insanely good East-West fusion joint Ugly Dumpling. Round things off with the pecan pie dessert dumplings.
Venison with maple pear then a creamy russet apple rice pudding in the cosy dining room at Antidote.
Prime patties at Carnaby Burger Co, where the walls are covered with Penguin book covers and black-and- white portraits of authors and rock ’n’ roll stars.
Get a mani-pedi with a side of wine in nearby Foubert’s Place at Cowshed, a spa that feels like an upscale country kitchen, but in central London.
Hit up a lo-fi photography workshop at Lomography, where you can stock up on arty lenses, retro film options and cameras made from sardine tins.
A fancy notebook, swanky Runwell watch or handcrafted leather bag made to last a very long time indeed from Detroit-born brand Shinola.
The best flannel shirt you’ve ever had and other quality outdoorwear from adventure outfitters Filson.
A pair of 1947 501s at Levi’s Vintage Clothing, which stocks archive pieces going back 140 years.
Sexy specs, from horn-rims to sunnies, at Cubitts. A stone’s throw away on Marshall Street, it’s so cool it even has an artist in residence: that’s currently Becky Allen, who creates fetching cleaning cloths and silk pocket squares for an extra dimension of dapper.
And if you only do one thing…
Get the sugar shakes at three-floor chocolate emporium Choccywoccydoodah, with bespoke cakes, truffles and hot chocolates, an upstairs café and a secret garden room. Willy who?