The NY-Lon bond grows ever stronger as two big American labels, J Crew and Club Monaco, finally decide to make their presence felt in the capital. Each has their own take on affordable luxury for men and women, but is this town big enough for the both of them?
Club Monaco was founded in Toronto in 1985 and bought by Polo Ralph Lauren in 1999, subsequently moving its HQ to NYC. The company now has over 140 outlets worldwide.
Established shortly before its rival in 1983 as a mail order catalogue, in 2003 J Crew scored Jenna Lyon as creative director. She turned the brand into a fashion phenomenon boasting 249 stores and counting.
If you want a good white shirt, camel trenchcoat or LBD, look no further. No expense is spared on their campaigns, either – Club Monaco has worked with the legends that are photographers Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino, Walter Chin and Richard Avedon.
Impressively, the brand now shows its premium line at New York Fashion Week, and excels at colourful knitwear, lacquered jewellery and dapper accessories for gents.
The brand is beloved of girls about town Atlanta de Cadenet, Clara Paget, Harley Viera Newton, Jade Parfitt and Poppy Delevingne.
J Crew possesses a trump card in the form of Michelle Obama, who wore a cardie on ‘The Jay Leno Show’ in 2008 and then dressed her daughters in J Crew’s kids’ line for her hubby’s 2009 inauguration. Since then, everyone who is anyone has followed suit, including Beyoncé, Jennifer Aniston, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Sam Cam. You win some...
CM is just expensive enough to feel like you’re treating yourself but not so expensive that you collapse in a heap on the shop floor. Club Monaco’s priciest looks include a camo-print wool coat for £420, but you can pick up a sleek cheetah-print turtleneck for around £90.
Hovering temptingly between high street prices and designer ones, J Crew offers staples such as cashmere jumpers at £180 and silk shirts for £128.
A clean white space filled with works by London artists in the leafy enclave of Portobello, at 223 Westbourne Grove, W11 2SE. All fittings are sourced locally, such as its antique lighting and mirrors, and an imposing vintage shoe display unit.
Set designer Shona Heath has covered the magnificent flagship (165 Regent Street, W1B 4AD) in fantasy taxis decorated with lions, eagles and unicorns. There’s also a neat men’s shop now open at 38 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LJ.
Far from being a case of just a quick number one and a shape-up, barbering has taken on a life of its own, from fantastic fade techniques to full on hairline artistry. Razor skills aside, what makes a really great barbershop is reliability and trust, qualities that our top ten barbers for Afro-Caribbean hair have by the bucketload. RECOMMENDED: London's best menswear shops
Halloween, New Year, or just popping out to one of the clubs in London, social occasions are at least twice as fun when there's fancy dress involved. Cast off your going out uniform and switch it for, say, a 1920s flapper dress. Or perhaps an Elizabethan doublet. In these top-notch fancy dress shops you can give yourself a giant wound, try on terrifying masks, and get involved in full character outfits. Choosing your ideal alter-ego will be the only dilemma... RECOMMENDED: Read our full Halloween in London guide if you're looking for a spooky outfit
281 Portobello Road Arcade
Find new and established designers here, showcased minutes away from the rowdy markets of Portobello Road. Loved by the likes of Rihanna and The Weeknd, London's Trapstar offers bold, graphic prints on hoodies and trackie bottoms, as well as badass bombers and leather jackets. Pop to What Katie Did to get something sexy to go under your threads with their range of delicate, faux-vintage lingerie. Top it all off with lifestyle accessories from Danaqa, which sources its jewellery, bags, scarves and more from lady-led businesses in developing countries.
Venue says: “A unique shopping destination on London's famous Portobello Road. Independent boutiques, fashion, jewellry, art, and so much more.”