Modern Society, Shoreditch, London
One of Redchurch Street’s coolest offerings, Modern Society fuses fashion, lifestyle, art and food in effortless style. It stays ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest brands and was first to introduce London to the covetable coats of Sandy Liang, By Far footwear and Salt Surf. With a clientele evenly split between male and female, genderless labels are popular – including its own line of T-shirts. Owner Nazifa Movsoumova says: “We are in a prime location, near Shoreditch House and Jasper Conran’s Boundary hotel, so we see a lot of tourists at the weekend. Weekdays are when our regulars return to the café and to check out the new drops. We’ve also just launched crystals, so if you’re looking for some guidance or a good omen, we’ve got an amazing array!”
Browns Fashion, Mayfair
Established in 1970 as one of the first multi-brand boutiques in the UK, Brown’s has a reputation as a fashion talent scout that is second to none. Founder Joan Burstein employed Manolo Blahnik and Osman Yousefzada, and discovered Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. Now owned by online giant Farfetch, the original South Molton Street store has powerful backing and a big digital engine, as well as a second store, Browns East. Cutting edge and bang on trend are its milieu. Current faves are the labels Ruslan Baginskiy and Wandler. Look out for spangly disco swimwear from French label Oséree and Leslie Amon and micro sunglasses from Roberi & Fraud.
It may have an online behemoth behind it (having been sold for a reported £400m), but the MatchesFashion Marylebone boutique is still both a local and destination store for the stylish shopper. As much drop-in fashion clinic as shop, customers can enjoy a calendar of events throughout the year. This year’s summer celebrations start this month when guests can mingle with the designers behind womenswear vacation brands, Horror Vacui, Álvaro, Gioia and Wiggy Kit and shop the looks. Recommended for the shopper – both male and female – who wants to be first in line for the most stylish new brands.
KJ’s Laundry, Marylebone
In pretty Marylebone Lane, this 12-year-old New York-feel store owned by Kate Allden and Jane Ellis offers designer labels on the cooler side of feminine bohemia. “Our customers are confident working women who come to us for the special pieces in their wardrobe that they can’t find on the high street,” says Ellis. Look out for pretty printed shirts by Paris brand Soeur, minimalist frills from Ulla Johnson and this season’s new-to-the-store labels Birds of Paradis and Natalie Martin.
18montrose, King’s Cross
With branches in Glasgow and Nottingham, as well as London’s King’s Cross, this casual and streetwear boutique dresses men (and some women) across the nation. Best-selling brands include casual’s favourite Stone Island, alongside footwear by Adidas and Nike – this season’s Raf Simon’s Replicant trainer is flying out. Look out for new-to-the-fold designer Heron Preston, with his millennial take on jersey trackies, hoodies and graphic T-shirts.
Couverture & The Garbstore, Notting Hill
These two stores make for one bright retail experience. On the ground floor and mezzanine it’s the Couverture take on womenswear, home and lifestyle. Downstairs is Garbstore’s menswear. Both have beautiful, unusual buys that will stand out, even if the price points can be a stretch. Favourite labels for women include New York’s Rachel Comey and London’s LF Markey. Men should make a beeline for watches by Techne and the English Difference, the Garbstore’s latest own line.
Wavey Garms, Peckham
Set up by former chef Andres Branco as a Facebook page to trade hard-to-find 80s and 90s streetwear to a millennial audience whose parents probably had the originals, Wavey Garms (Urban Dictionary translation: cool clothes) has been described as “changing the face of British fashion”. Its success has led to collaborations with global players such as Nike, as well as diversification into styling, creative direction and its very own coffee-table book. If you want to buy the garms in person, you can now do so at its recently opened store in Peckham, south London.
Dukes Cupboard, Soho
Dreaming of 90s Stussy? Dukes Cupboard is the vintage designer and sportswear store for you. Having started back in 2012 as a market stall for secondhand Polo by Ralph Lauren on Soho’s Brewer Street, success has led it into the warmth of a physical store around the corner at Green’s Court. Lacoste, Polo, Nike, Stone Island and Dolce & Gabbana all feature large and if you can’t get there, they have a strong online website and Instagram presence with 28.2k followers.
The Place, Mayfair
Veteran retailer Simon Bernstein, son of the founders of Browns Fashion, has just opened a new multi-brand store next to Claridge’s. As you’d expect from Bernstein’s pedigree, there’s a prestigious mix of new and interesting designer labels, particularly embroidered designs by Alice Archer (formerly of Dries Van Noten), Sofie D’Hoore’s chic European minimalism and Dodo Bar Or’s colourful boho cotton dresses. For menswear, bright and jolly shirts from Leathersmith of London work well alongside.
Looking for a fashion-forward take on unisex and workwear? Other/shop could be the store for you. A selection of considered labels including the excellent Studio Nicholson (mens and womens), Story MFG, London-based fashion favourite Peter Jensen and the street-influenced Aries Arise provide an interesting blend, alongside the store’s own brand Other, an androgynous collection of utility fashion, designed by the founders and produced and fabric-sourced in the UK.
other-shop.com; @othershop london
Our Daily Edit, Brighton
Former TV producers Ella Wells and Marc Lewis are the husband and wife team behind this relaxed and friendly store. Mingling fashion with lifestyle and art, bestsellers for women include the ever popular Ganni, LF Markey and Sideline, who are based nearby in Lewes. Male customers come back for Portuguese Flannel, Levi’s Made & Crafted and Wood Wood. Ella says: “Marc and I always wanted to be a store that felt welcoming and inspiring with no obligation to buy. We try to take on brands that people haven’t heard about. We do have some bigger labels, but we like niche labels. We like to support local designers and artists. We work with them on collaborations and hope to find a new audience through them.”
Object Style, Manchester
A Scandi-style boutique in Manchester’s trendy Chorlton? What took them so long? Object Style is the whole shebang – a finely curated collection of clothes for men and women and mid-century homewear, put together by husband and wife team Alex and Rachael Otterwell. Womenswear has a utility feel in muted palettes (modelled online by chic owner Rachael) and accessorised with minimalist plated jewellery. Menswear comprises chunky leather footwear and shaggy knitwear. Buy a scented candle for the complete hygge experience.
Hervia Bazaar, Manchester
This designer luxury store does a good line in cutting-edge labels, such as Thom Browne, Rick Owens and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Streetwear style brands, such as Comme des Garçons line Play, as well as Kanye West’s Yeezy and sneaker brand collaborations are also a favourite, while Hervia’s retail partnership with Y-3 also allows it the largest online selection of the Adidas brand in Britain.
Compared to the height of Coleen Rooney fever, Cricket enjoys less national media attention than it once did, but no less commercial success. In designer-conscious Liverpool, where teenagers will fork out £500 for a pair of prom shoes, the fashion stakes are high and owner Justine Mills (good pals with Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, don’t you know) always provides. It was the first UK buyer of Balenciaga, which can’t currently be kept in store long enough, alongside catwalk looks from Celine, Valentino, Chloé, Versace and contemporary brands, such as Off-White. Menswear also performs well and the kidswear downstairs allows a frenzy of mini-me styling on the shop floor.
Resident Store, Frome, Somerset
A lifestyle boutique with clothes, rather than a fashion store, Resident brings together a carefully considered blend of garments that work well in the Scandi-inspired interiors that are so all-of-us right now. Look out for the soothing colour palettes of Selected Femme and Selected Homme, easy shirting by Form & Thread and minimalist weatherproof coats by Rains.
A Bath stalwart for more than three decades, Square has recently rehoused itself in a building where Mary Shelley wrote part of Frankenstein. The style continues at this classic boutique with bright mid-priced dresses by Rixo in the window and drawing in the crowds. Also currently selling well are Golden Goose trainers, the Isabel Marant diffusion line Etoile, sensuous silky pieces by Italian label Forte Forte and knitwear staples by 360 Cashmere. A new website will be coming next season.
There’s an eclectic mix of apparel, accessories, jewellery and stationery at Found, a store that seeks out the lesser seen. A strong emphasis on British brands sees contemporary womenswear label Sideline (good jumpsuits), sitting alongside the always excellent YMC and colourful knitwear by Hades. For men, this season Hong Kong label Made by Scrub joins the likes of Universal Works and Penfield. Fashion types will hone in on the cool earrings by Machete, too.
Black White Denim, Wilmslow, Cheshire
Catering for a swish Cheshire crowd, Black White Denim provides a trendy and bright take on daywear and looks to dress up for evening. Favourite labels include dresses by Rixo, trainers from Air & Grace, shirting by Rails and Bella Freud, and John Smedley knitwear. The ingeniously entitled menswear department, Bloke White Denim, is a recent addition and carries many of the same brands as womenswear. Owner Jo Davies says: “There’s so much anonymity now in online shopping that I think our customers really like the whole relationship element of the purchase in our store. My shop has become a bit of an extension of my home. It’s a bit like having the front door open, the kettle and a load of clothes people want to try on.”
Old Town, Holt, Norfolk
A unique offering, Old Town calls itself a micro-clothing company and produces and sells early-20th-century-inspired workwear in a contemporary style from its shop and workshop in Holt. Think high-waisted moleskin men’s trousers (£150) and apron dresses for women (£88). They make about 70 garments a week, using British cotton, wool and linen where possible. Without marketing, Old Town has developed a cult following, particularly among creatives who see the look as an alternative uniform.
Bernard Boutique, Esher, Surrey
This family-owned store may have been around for yonks, but it consistently delivers a fresh take on the season’s best fashion for women. For this season, bright printed pieces and swimsuits from Ganni, the Danish label much loved by the fashion crowd, stand out, as well as pointy glamorous mules by the British Malone Souliers. They’re one of the few stockists of the ultra-cool Japanese label Sacai and also stock No 21, Chloé and Moncler for its well-heeled locals. Always worth a visit.
The Hambledon, Winchester
A Georgian-fronted building, with rooms that date back to Tudor and Norman times, this buzzy, creative destination store houses three rooms of womenswear, menswear in the basement, and homewares, stationery and whatever else they fancy. Popular labels for women include Bellerose, Stine Goya, coats by Shrimps and summerwear by Masscob. Menswear favourites include the harder to find 6876 and Adsum. People travel far and wide for the Hambledon experience. But even if you can’t get there, the relaunched website now also offers its extensive range of fashion.
The Dressing Room, St Albans, Hertfordshire
“A point of difference, that’s what people want when they shop at independents,” says Deryane Tadd, who opened her award-winning womenswear boutique 13 years ago. Stocking around 90 brands, including the currently popular ethical trainer brand Veja, she offers exclusives with midpriced Brit brands, such as Lily and Lionel, Pyrus and Mercy Delta, as well as a styling service that can be done online or in store. Their YouTube styling videos are also worth checking out for those who can’t get to Herts.
Laura Starbuck has been offering the style-savvy Brighton woman – from 30 to 80-somethings – just what she wants for 15 years from her chic and understated store. One of the first to bring Isabel Marant to Britain, she still sells the now mega French brand, along with Acne, jeans by Agolde and cool leather bags by Marant’s husband, Jérôme Dreyfuss. Look out for the quintessentially Parisian label Polder arriving in the next few months.
Envoy of Belfast, Belfast
A worthy past winner of Ireland’s best boutique, this understated store has quite simply one of the most tasteful buys in these isles. It’s almost impossible to find pieces by Paul Harnden but Envoy has them, alongside a great edit of Dries Van Noten and the Japanese brand Engineered Garments, and knitwear from Ireland and Scotland by & Daughter. Trickers shoes and New Balance trainers complete the look. Owner Ruth Spence says: “We’ve been open for 10 years and I think we do well because we sell a lot of harder-to-find brands. People are looking for garments with longevity, and because we’ve worked with clients for years we’re able to say: ‘Oh, this would work with the piece that’s already in your wardrobe!’”
A luxury fashion offering for men, women and kids, the Cardiff branch of Flannels boasts labels such as Gucci, Valentino, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Giuseppe Zanotti, Lanvin and Moncler. New for this season is Off-White menswear, from Virgil Abloh, the designer recently scooped up by Louis Vuitton. With a personal shopping service and a custom-made offering on certain lines, this is an upscale retail experience. Flannels also has 18 stores in the UK and opens another in Westfield London in July.
flannels.com; @flannelswoman; @flannelsman
Jules B Jesmond, Newcastle
One of the northeast’s fashion gems for the last 30-plus years, Jules B stocks mid-priced and designer labels on the glam side, including denim by Victoria Victoria Beckham and cult sunglasses by Le Specs, with new additions from Gigi x Tommy Hilfiger. Menswear includes Barbour International, Paul Smith and Hartford basics. Two more stores are also in Yarm and Kendal.
Morgan Clare, Harrogate
Twenty years as one of Yorkshire’s premium designer stores is no mean feat. The newly upgraded store is all dark wood floors and crisp white walls, with an evolving blend of brands – most recently Ancient Greek Sandals, Preen Line and Robert Rodriguez, joining dressing-up favourites Stella McCartney and Peter Pilotto and denim from Paige and J Brand. Weekly buyers’ picks and product updates feature on its lively Instagram feed. There’s also a branch of the store at 36 The Grove, Ilkley.
From APC and Balmain to Vivienne Westwood and Y-3, by way of Gucci and Hugo Boss, Cruise is an encyclopedia of contemporary fashion. There are now 10 stores in the chain (including outside Scotland in Newcastle, Belfast and Derby), but the original venture started in Glasgow, where there is now both a premium and mainline store. For polished, big-bucks designer labels, it’s hard to beat.
Jane Davidson, Edinburgh
First opened in 1969, this Edinburgh institution is now run by Jane Davidson’s daughter, Sarah. It’s a wonderful place to shop when you want to dress up for a special event, with a beautiful selection from Dries Van Noten, Osman and Roland Mouret. Bella Freud knitwear and denim by J Brand, Donna Ida and Rag & Bone keep day wear fresh. New labels include special pieces by Alice Archer and occasionwear from Rick Rhi.
Pam Jenkins, Edinburgh
This emporium is often referred to as Scotland’s premier accessories store but really, is there anywhere else in Britain that does it as well as this pretty shop? All the glossy names are here – Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Rupert Sanderson and Gianvito Rossi, alongside shoes and silk scarves. Always worth checking out what they have on their online sale, too.
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