Several Members of The Trend Curve’s subscriber family have emailed to ask where I like to shop when I’m in London. I do have some favorite streets and places, and I mix in new things every time I’m there. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
These stores and areas will help you lay a foundation upon which you can build over time. Or you can modify the list as shops rise and fall in format and trend-right assortments. I’ve also included a Google Map of all shops mentioned in this overview which you can use to plan your own London trend-spotting adventure.
- The corner of Oxford Street and Portman Street is a good place to start. Look in at Next. This store’s mid-market apparel gives me a reality check on color. Further down Oxford Street you will find another location, which also carries some home décor products, like portable lighting, frames and some textiles.
- New Look is just across the street from Next, so I pop in. Cheap prices, fun shoes, none of which I can wear.
- I LOVE Accessorize and always get distracted thinking about how the jewelry trends I see there will translate to embellishments on toss pillows, and how handbag directions could work on organizer covers. On a personal note, I like to look for hair binders in the newest colors, and hair clips with an elevated fashion sense, but a reasonable price, while I’m there.
- Zara pops up in several locations around London. This fast-fashion retailer focuses only on apparel on Oxford Street. If you see something you want, get it NOW. It won’t be reordered. It’s hard for me to walk out of Zara empty handed.
- John Lewis has a greeting card and gift wrap section that I can spend an hour in. Their bed-linen department is bigger than it is better, but the toss-pillow area generally has something of note. Seasonally, the outdoor-living section has had great color stories, plus a few item discoveries—things I have not seen elsewhere. I can also get distracted by their portable lighting, especially lamps for SAD, growing plants or innovative LED styles.
- Monsoon is a great store for color inspiration. I do mean great. Women’s apparel, as well as apparel for kids. Accessorize products are part of the Monsoon brand.
- Selfridges is on the corner of Oxford and Duke Streets is just a couple of short blocks away from one of the most conveniently located hotels I’ve stayed in for shopping retail: Marriott Grosvenor Square. You MUST look at the candy department at Selfridges for a combination of whimsy and innovation. You won’t be disappointed. I reserve an hour for the lower level, which carries housewares, tabletop products, gifts and home textiles. I also wander through the first-floor section reserved for young women’s clothing, with space allocated for brands like Warehouse and Oasis. And don’t miss the windows. In August, their displays included several windows devoted to New Neutrals, and they were really well done.
- River Island is one of the stores I pop my head into, but don’t spend to many resources on.
- Debenhams is not my favorite London department store, but as it is on Oxford Street I can’t pass it by. Ditto House of Fraser. But this past August I liked HOF’s Bed By Conran collection of textured bed linens and toss pillows in mostly solid hues.
- Near Oxford Circus, Topshop is hip and cool. This place is BIG, and has clothing and accessories for both men and women that come with a youthful point of view. Since my kids were 9 and 15, I have brought something back from my London trip from this store. Now they are 16 and 22, and while they prefer to chose their own clothing now, they still think what I bring back from Topshop is worth wearing. Licensed collection for women: Kate Moss.
- Urban Outfitters has a mix of clothing and gifts that is easy to shop. I like the quirkiness of their assortment. I haven’t bought anything here for a while, but I like to look at the fabrications (in August I was captivated by their use of tiered lace), mixed materials, knit patterns, etc.
- Apple has an amazing store just off Oxford Street. I rarely see anything there I can’t buy at home, but as a Mac addict (and Apple shareholder), I can’t keep myself from steeping inside and drinking in the energy.
- Mamas and Papas has darling windows. Even if you don’t track infant products, take a minute to peek at their window displays. In August, they showed an all-neutral color story that made an eco-baby statement I wanted to buy, even though I am in no way in the market for baby products!
- I’m not always an H & M fan, though I do appreciate their fast-fashion apparel turnover. But in August they had one of the best window displays of jeans I’ve ever seen. Denim was hot in the summer, and showed up in lots of windows, but H & M told the trend story best.
- Habitat is always a worthwhile stop. Their upholstery will give you a read on what can be done with color, and how to make neutrals look fresh. My favorite area of this store is for kids. From star-shaped rugs (for kid-sized feet) to pop-up cottages, Habitat had lots of inspiration for kids products when I saw them in August.
- Zara Home displays their bed linens by color, showing how pattern play can work when color ties it all together. Their bedding is stronger than their tableware, which takes up a lot of space but hasn’t seemed to have a particular point of view any time I have been there. This summer, their windows, like several other stores, were devoted to neutrals. Their story was Gray and White and really did look great.
- There are stores like Vans and Hilfiger Denim that have the same old ho-hum assortment, but Irregular Choice is different. If you want amazing shoes with a whimsical point of view, this is your place. They bill themselves as “Breaking with Convention.” Definitely.
- Liberty of London gets my vote for the best-dressed beds in London. There aren’t many of them, but they still make a statement. Odd but true: I love their glove assortment. Downstairs, a quiet little café is the perfect spot to rest your feet.
- If you take the tube to Sloane Square, you can begin shopping Kings Road just a few feet away at Peter Jones. This is a full-line department store that includes fabric for upholstery and draperies. I love looking through the long bolts of fabric! Towels on the main floor offer the most extensive range of solid colors I have seen anywhere. Every time I’m there, I ask which colors are new so I can buy samples. I also like to take the escalator down to the basement level to look through their housewares department.
- Anthropologie is a store I love in the US, so it stands to reason I would feel the same way about the King’s Road store that opened in March of 2010. Their home goods section is 10,000 square feet, and is nothing short of remarkable. I wanted almost everything—stemware, magnets, kitchen towels AND the bed frames on which they displayed their linens. One metal headboard had a random layout of rectangles, some of which were filled with lace.
- Scribbler on King’s Road is a tiny shop filled with greeting cards, gift bags and fun gift items like whimsical pencil sharpeners. I can’t resist buying cards here. In August, gingerbread boys and girls on non-Holiday cards were a trend.
- Heal’s has mostly contemporary furniture, lighting and bed linens upstairs, and gifts and housewares on the main floor. I spend more time upstairs than downstairs. This is one place where I like to see what’s happening with wood finishes.
- Designers Guild has two storefronts right next to each other. One carries finished goods like bed and bath products, furniture, tableware and rugs. The other is devoted to wallpapers and fabrics. I watch Guild’s color combinations for cues and clues to the future of design.
Other stops to consider:
- The Shop at Bluebird on King’s Road
- William Yeoward on King’s Road
- Chelsea Gardener on Sydney Street
- Paperchase at Tottenham Court Road
- General Trading Company on Pelham Street
- Kelly Hoppen on Chepstow Road, the Portobello Market and the Notting Hill area, generally.
In the Google Map below all locations mentioned in this post are listed. You can click on any of the blue bubbles to see the store name and location. If you double-click on the map (or use the “+” or “-” in the upper left) you can zoom in or out on the map for a closer look. You can also click-and-drag within the map itself to scroll along. I’ve also included a link to the map itself for you to use for planning your own trend-spotting adventure or for using when you’re actually in London!
Michelle Lamb’s London Retail Trend Spotting Map (link to map)
View Michelle Lamb's London Retail Trend Spotting in a larger map