The best concept stores in London
It will come as no surprise that London boasts a diverse range of concept stores; the very notion of which is ingrained in the city’s many shopping districts. From fashion to design, concept stores vary from multi-level experiences to cute, curated boutiques. Of course, London’s major department stores cater for the conceptual shopper, but there are many other troves to discover.
Dover Street Market
A good place to start is Rei Kawakubo’s seismic shopping paradise on Haymarket. The Japanese fashion designer launched Dover Street Market in 2004, originally on Dover Street – natch, and with it launched a global brand now with stores in Tokyo, New York City, Beijing, Singapore and Los Angeles. This reincarnated London store spreads over five floors, each with its own visual identity. With streetwear displayed in sheds and accessories displayed on slides, this is a truly unique experience in the heart of the capital. The store regularly plays host to a variety of art installations and special events, too.
Perhaps the most exciting concept store in London (and surely amongst the top in the world), LN-CC is still somewhat of an enigma, despite opening its doors in 2010. Menswear is the main focus, with a variety of well known designers displayed alongside the city’s freshest talent – think Rick Owens and Raf Simons. Key pieces from the collections are displayed in wooden tunnels and on metal rigs in this art gallery-esque space. Pre-booked appointments are preferred; it can be somewhat intimidating wandering up LN-CC’s back passage and ringing the buzzer. Rest assured, though, that a warm welcome awaits.
A stalwart of the Shoreditch design scene, SCP caters for the discerning shopper who likes to buy his sunglasses and his sofa at the same time. Split over two levels, upstairs you’ll find a huge variety of design-led furniture, boasting brands like Ercol, Robin Day and Matthew Hilton. Downstairs is a design fan’s dream, with shelves stocked with everything from perfume to notepads – all exquisitely designed, of course.
Couverture & The Garbstore
In a T.A.R.D.I.S. like a townhouse in Portobello, you’ll find Couverture and The Garbstore, an emporium of menswear and womenswear unrivalled in the capital. Gents head downstairs for garms, where you can swoon over The Garbstore’s seductive selection of different designers. Both floors stock a variety of genuinely interesting gifts, too.
Labour & Wait
Timeless objects will a lifelong ethos are on offer at Labour & Wait’s corner shop in Shoreditch. This is your local hardware store with a difference, where new items with a utilitarian, Wartime aesthetic are stocked alongside vintage pieces. There are brooms and blankets, hankies and holdalls, and pots and pans galore in this treasure trove of speciality goods.
Wolf & Badger
Coal Drops Yard, in the new suburb of Kings Cross Central, is the latest retail hotspot in London and Wolf & Badger is its flagship. Independent and ethical are Wolf & Badger’s buzzwords; this three-storey space stocks a wide selection of independent designers and boasts a florist and café, Raw Press.
Pioneers of Shoreditch’s menswear scene, Goodhood remains a high-octane shopping experience with two floors of highly desirable goods. Its new venue combines both its original concept and its Lifestore, so expect to find the latest looks from London menswear alongside a huge variety of grooming goods, ceramics, books and home accessories.
Present & Correct
Stylish stationers Present & Correct found a permanent, physical home in Clerkenwell in 2012 after starting life as an e-commerce store. With a global design following on social media, this stationery store is packed full of dreamy supplies that will make pen perverts weep. Every object is presented with love and the interior reads like an editorial shoot straight from a design publication.
A thoroughly modern shopping experience, Modern Society is the latest to deliver the shop/café concept perfectly. While its racks cater more for women, its carefully curated cabinets carry all sorts of covetable trinkets and goods, which you can peruse as the barista prepares your brew.
Browns East is the stylish sister of West End counterpart Browns, a heritage brand that is synonymous with London style. While the Bond Street branch caters to high-end shoppers, Browns East knows its audience in its Shoreditch store, stocking a range of younger, hipper designers at the forefront of the London fashion scene. Divided into a series of installations designed by a wealth of creatives, this store is the perfect blend of art, fashion and design.
Couverture & The Garbstore, Notting Hill
Couverture & The Garbstore, Notting Hill