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Shopping in London

Thanks to extraordinary designers with world-class collections, including Christopher Kane, Erdem and Mary Katrantzou, London Fashion has never been more exciting. And that buzz is stretching to the city’s fashion shops, too. 

But don’t worry if your budget can’t stretch to a Giles dress – London has always been about the high/low fashion mix. It has the best High Street in the world, and some wonderful vintage stores, too.

If you are in a hurry, head to one of the well-known department stores – Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Selfridges or Liberty – who highlight the designers on show during London Fashion Week. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, the stores below give a taste of just how well London does fashion.

New York shopping.

An insider's guide to London shopping:
Sasha Wilkins @LibertyLndnGirl

Liberty London GirlGet the most out of one of the world's main fashion capitals with our insider's guide to its must-shop stores and stylish places to pause.

Sasha Wilkins started blogging as Liberty London Girl in New York in 2006, reporting on style, beauty, food, drink and culture in the city before returning to London. She now has more than 90,000 Twitter followers.

My five favourite shops

Suzannah.

Suzannah

Inspired by Parisian and American vintage couture, British designer Suzannah quite simply makes beautiful dresses: whether you need something long, short, bridal, evening or in between, her pieces in both exquisite Italian silks and exclusive prints are a timeless investment. As well as her seasonal ready-to wear, which is also available online, she provides a couture service at her boutique on New Quebec Street.

Whistles.

Whistles

At the upper end of the British High Street, Whistles received a shot in the arm when retail maven Jane Shepherdson – formerly responsible for turning around Topshop – took the helm in 2008. It’s continued making headlines, with a new flagship store opening last year in Mayfair and, for this year, the label’s first ‘on-schedule’ show at February’s London Fashion Week and a new menswear range for AW14.

Wolf & Badger.

Wolf & Badger

Founded in Notting Hill in 2009 by brothers Henry and George Graham, Wolf & Badger’s ethos is to promote, support and retail emerging fashion, jewellery, accessories and interior design brands from the UK and beyond. Designers rent small units within the stores and are given access to business and marketing support. Both branches, in Mayfair and Notting Hill, are worth a visit as each carries a different range.

The Cambridge Satchel Company.

The Cambridge Satchel Company

A true English success story, The Cambridge Satchel Company was started as a kitchen table business by founder Julie Deane when she spotted a gap in the market for British-made traditional school satchels. Over the past two seasons they have branched out into lovely patent clutches and over-the-shoulder bags in a rainbow of colours, which you can buy from their London stores in Covent Garden and Spitalfields Market.

Spitalfields Market.

Spitalfields Market

Once threatened by demolition due to the encroaching development of the City of London, this Victorian market hall is now home to a wide array of permanent fashion shops and restaurants around its periphery, but it is the market stalls that sit in the middle that are worth a trip east. There is something to see everyday, but the new Saturday Style Market has stalls of original clothing, accessories and ethical goods from around 60 designers.

Classic London shops

Harrods London.

Harrods

Possibly the most famous department store in the world and certainly one of the most varied, Harrods is a must see on any trip to London, even if it's just to browse the five floors of exquisite and surprising goods. The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique – All Things for All People Everywhere – and you can see why, with everything from fashion to food being showcased here. Make sure you stop by the toy kingdom, a multi-sensory experience for all ages.

Selfridges & Co London.

Selfridges & Co

Located on Oxford Street, the busiest shopping strip in Europe, Selfridges was named the best department store in the world in 2010. It's the second-largest department store in the UK and home to hundreds of famous brands and shopping experiences including a Champagne bar, a personal shopper service and a hair and beauty salon.

Portobello Road.

Portobello Road

Portobello Road buzzes with boutique shops, art galleries and quirky arcades six days a week, and on Saturdays opens to the world’s largest antiques market. The street is also home to the Grade II-listed Electric Cinema – one of Britain's oldest movie theatres. It has been a popular movie backdrop, featuring in films such as Notting Hill and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Hamleys.

Hamleys

One of the world’s largest toyshops, Hamleys features seven floors of pure play. Famous for its wonderful window displays, it’s impossible to walk past without being drawn inside from designer shopping hub Regent Street – even if you don't have children accompanying you. Once inside, you’ll have an astonishing 40,000 toys and games to discover in what is more ‘funfair’ than ‘shop’. So go wild and let your inner child out.

Covent Garden.

Covent Garden

Famous for its world-class street performers and vibrant piazza, Covent Garden is shopping, dining, sightseeing, nightlife and entertainment all rolled into one. No trip to London is complete without a visit to this iconic shopping district, where you’ll be able to browse everything from High Street favourites and high-end designers to quirky boutiques and market stalls.

Where to stop when you shop

Polpo.

Polpo

Restaurateur extraordinaire Russell Norman is often credited as the man behind the trend for small plate restaurants in London. Buzzy Polpo is his version of a Venetian bàcaro (a word to describe a humble restaurant serving small plates of simple food and good local wines). There are three branches, but the original is the perfect pit stop for meatballs, pizzette and the most delicious vegetable sides and salads. Don’t forget to order a reviving Aperol Spritz.

Comptoir Libanais.

Comptoir Libanais

Conveniently situated in all the places you might want to shop, from Westfield to the West End, Comptoir Libanais is a bright and breezy modern mini chain of eight restaurants (and counting) that serves excellent Lebanese food, from mezze sharing plates to tagines, wraps and salads. You can also grab food and coffee to go, as well as browse their shelves of Lebanese deli staples.

Leon.

Leon

The guys behind the London-based Leon chain believe simply that food should both taste good and do you good, and their (not small) ambition is to change the face of fast food. They use seasonal ingredients, monitor their animal suppliers and try to make their food low GI where possible. The Leon Superfood Salad, which has been on the menu since day one, is the perfect guilt-free fuel for your shopping spree.

Mark’s Bar.

Mark’s Bar

Hidden away in the basement of chef-restaurateur Mark Hix’s eponymous Soho restaurant, this apothecary-like cocktail bar with its leather Chesterfields, smoky mirrors and ambient lighting is a lovely place to end a hard day at the shopping coalface. Mark's Bar has a restaurant licence so guests are required to purchase a bar snack - no hardship when the options include Scotch quail’s eggs, pork crackling with apple sauce and potted smoked salmon, all for around £5 each.

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