With the Christmas shopping season now up and running, we’re all rushing around looking for that perfect gift. But if you look beyond the endless halls of a supermarket or the infinite pages of Amazon, there’s plenty of unique offerings on the high street, especially from start-up brands.
We’ve taken a look at eight of the best independent stores in London you should visit this December, with each offering eye-catching products that will go down an absolute treat with your loved ones.
Looking for a new pair of specs? Well, this optical showroom has the coolest eyewear in London, with its products ranging from vintage glasses to brands such as Moschino, Christian Lacroix and Versace. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s still worth a visit purely to geek out over General Eyewear’s diverse collection, which is just as much a museum as it is a shop and packed with unique frames from times gone by.
Where: 17 Soho Square, Soho, W1D 3QJ
When: Open 10AM to 6PM from Monday to Sunday
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers
The very essence of a community-led fashion business, Walthamstow-based Blackhorse Lane Ateliers makes bespoke pairs of jeans while also doubling as a café for locals and providing denim-making workshops. These tailored jeans are made from some of the best materials available and created in an ethical way so you don’t need to feel guilty about buying.
Where: The Clerk's House, Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JN
When: Open 10AM to 2PM from Monday to Friday
Gwyneth Paltrow’s health brand Goop tends to split people, with some swearing by its ethical values and others labelling its kale-heavy content as a little, well, pretentious. But one thing that can’t be denied is the sheer beauty of Goop’s first London pop-up, which was created by respected interior designer Frans Hickman and sells Paltrow-approved niche furniture and clothing. These products are all high-end, but Goop has plenty to choose from if you want to splash out on something unique.
Where: 36 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AB
When: Open 10AM to 6PM from Monday to Saturday, 12PM to 6PM on Sunday
Duke & Dexter
This bespoke shoe retailer sells footwear that strikes the fine style balance between being traditional and contemporary. Its head-turning loafers, which have been worn by celebrities including Eddie Redmayne, Ryan Reynolds and Justin Timberlake, are the perfect gift for anyone hoping to develop a more dapper look in 2019.
Where: 12 Eccleston Yards, 21 Eccleston Street, SW1W 9LX
When: Open from 10AM to 7PM Monday to Friday, 11AM to 6PM on Sunday
Gandy’s is the brainchild of brothers Rob and Paul Forkan, who started their business from their South London flat in 2011 after tragically losing both of their parents in Sri Lanka following the 2004 Tsunami. Originally selling just flip flops, it’s now evolved into a clothing brand where 10% of profits go towards helping orphans. Visiting the first physical store from Gandy’s isn’t just about supporting something wholesome, but also being surrounded by comfy yet chic backpacks and travel-friendly clothing that may well inspire someone to go travelling next year.
Where: 17 New Row, Covent Garden, WC2N 4LA
When: Open 10AM to 8PM on Monday to Saturday, 10AM to 6.30PM on Sunday
Most people are already thinking about their 2019 summer holiday and Horizn is the perfect shop to visit if you want to aide a loved one’s frolic in the sun. This slick store sells the kind of suitcases, wallets and travel accessories that will make someone look like a big deal going through Terminal 5.
Where: 9 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DJ
When: Open 10AM to 7PM Monday to Saturday, 11AM to 5PM on Sunday
Lulu and Nat
Let’s face it, children’s bed covers usually feature creased versions of Ironman or Ariana Grande. Step forward Lulu and Nat, a brand that sells children’s bedding and sleepwear with bold designs that Liberty would be proud of crafting. Inspired by co-founder Lulu Watts’ time spent living in India, these products are charming, with the tiger print pajamas sure to make your little one look as cool as possible.
When: Although Lulu and Nat have hosted pop-ups in the past, right now the best option is to order online
This fashion brand prides itself on creating clothing that has been co-designed by its community of followers and the results are surprisingly stunning. The womenswear is filled with psychedelic colours and striking designs, while collections that pay tribute to artists such as Van Gogh are playfully creative. Anyone can submit an idea for a product design to AWAYTOMARS, which means your purchase might just kick-start the career of a future fashion great.
Where: 46 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AB
When: Open 10AM to 5.30PM from Monday to Sunday