Fashion designer, curator and creative director Alex Eagle champions the idea of fashion being about more than just clothing, and her first London store stocks a multitude of elegant brands spanning clothing, furniture and photography as well as its own womenswear collection. The style is simple, uses luxurious fabrics and keeps detailing to a minimum, and every piece on display is an ode to timeless design.
MACHINE-A is Soho’s coolest concept store and it masters the established and emerging brand balance perfectly, stocking collections by Maison Margiela and Gosha Rubchinskiy as well as lesser-known names. It’s positioned on Berwick Street, among some of the area’s quirkiest cafés and vintage-record shops, and makes for an inspirational browse.
Designer womenswear boutique Oxygen aims to stock items that other multi-brand stores don’t, sourcing its fashion picks from American, Australian, British and European labels like J Brand, Ganni and Giuseppe Zanotti. The space is intimate and the service is personal.
Newcastle-based luxury menswear retailer END. opened its first London store in Soho in 2018. The two-storey space feels bright, modern and well curated and it features oversized digital screens so that customers can experience the full range of brands and collections on offer. Expect contemporary labels with a slight streetwear influence: Acne Studios, Common Projects and Champion set the tone.
Albam’s focus is primarily on clothing construction and there’s a utilitarian aesthetic to each collection. Expect understated, easy-to-wear pieces in experimental fabrics; corduroy, pony hair and fleece all feature in winter and knitwear is often woven with silk. The Soho store is one of two London boutiques, and is painted bright yellow on the outside and decorated with a vintage bicycle in the window.
Oliver Spencer started his fashion career selling clothes on Portobello Road Market before launching his label in 2002. The Berwick Street store in Soho is one of four stand-alone London boutiques and it presents a strong curation of tailored and everyday designs. Artisanship is at the core of the brand and Spencer works with British and Italian mills to ensure premium quality.
New York label Rag and Bone brings its effortless sensibility to London’s Soho with its flagship store on Beak Street. It stocks both men’s and women’s collections, but the menswear offering is particularly strong and includes classic styles, from the perfect bomber jacket to leather sneakers.
The success of Universal Works on Lamb’s Conduit Street led to the opening of an additional space on Berwick Street in 2013. The location, loved for its retro music stores, authentic English pubs and independent retailers, suits the store’s approach to menswear perfectly: oversized checks, tactile fabrics, chunky silhouettes and a premium approach combine to create effortless cool. Each season it works with a different brand or creative to create a capsule collection.
The vintage sportswear emporium that is Duke’s Cupboard is based on Soho’s thriving Berwick Street and is surrounded by equally unique boutiques, music stores and coffee bars. It launched in 2012 when founders Milo Harley and Ned Membery first combined their designer brand picks – from limited edition Stone Island to Dolce & Gabbana – and moved from a market stall to today’s bricks-and-mortar location.
There are three Beyond Retro vintage clothing stores in London and while Soho’s offering is smaller than its easterly counterparts, there’s still a huge range of ever-changing men’s and women’s product. Customers can try before they buy, a luxury not always offered in vintage boutiques, and the loud music in the store suits the area, which is just as famous for its musical heritage as its fashion flair.
What sets Reign Vintage apart from the other second-hand clothing stores in London is that its owners source their stock from Europe, specifically Austria, Germany and Italy. They pride themselves in finding premium quality, so expect a few designer labels among the rails, which are added to daily.
There’s a story behind the sneaker brand ASICS, and it starts in 1949 when Kihachiro Onitsuka created the first variation of the basketball shoe in Japan. Now, his label Onitsuka Tiger still crafts original models as well as updated versions and works on something new each season with artists and brands. The store, which sits on Newburgh Street in London’s Soho, has minimal, bright interiors and a soothing atmosphere that mimics the label’s quietly confident approach.
Red Wing was founded in 1905 as a provider of workers’ shoes. It retains its flair for sturdy leather boots to this day and has transformed the look into something of a style statement. Durability is at the brand’s core and many styles are unisex, displayed on industrial steel cabinets in its charismatic Soho store.
Loved for its clean-cut leather and suede designs, Swedish streetwear brand Axel Arigato puts a smart spin on sneaker style. The Soho store, which opened in 2018, is designed with exposed-stone walls, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and minimal other interior touches, leaving full focus on the product.
New York based skate wear brand Supreme stocks classic and current designs and celebrates ongoing collaborations with high-fashion names like Louis Vuitton. There’s a photo collage by Ari Marcopoulos on the wall and a sculptural installation by skateboarder and artist Mark Gonzales.
TOMS launched as a footwear brand with a unique and meaningful concept – to donate new shoes to a child in need with every pair sold. Today, the programme has expanded alongside its product offering (which now includes other accessories) and offers support for safer birthing, access to clean water and restoring sight to those who need it. The store in Soho stocks items from each category and also has an ethically sourced coffee bar in-house.
Dr. Marten’s Soho store backs onto the restaurant and dining hub that is Kingly Court, but inside you’ll find a calm atmosphere and a small but perfectly formed edit of men’s, women’s and children’s footwear as well as some additional clothing. For a wider range of options, head to the three-storey Oxford Street store – it’s part shoe shop, part museum of vintage music memorabilia.
Pixi Beauty champions a natural look. Its founder, Petra Strand, aims to develop products that make women “look like themselves, only better”. The flagship store sits just off Carnaby Street and has a subtle approach to skincare and make-up in comparison to the neighbouring make-up boutiques (MAC Cosmetics, Too Faced and benefit) that have opened in recent years. Behind its doors you’ll find a clean, open space that celebrates its hero toners, serums and nourishing sprays.
Cult US beauty brand Too Faced opened its first European store in Soho, joining benefit and MAC Cosmetics on Carnaby Street. Fans of the brand will discover in-store exclusives as well as their favourite products, and enjoy the photogenic, social media-friendly interiors – a Union Jack wall and a dedicated hashtag encourage picture time.
Beauty brand benefit is mostly stocked in department stores and online, but its stand-alone flagship space on Carnaby Street is the best place to get expert advice, a choice of the entire beauty range and a real feel for the brand. Spray tanning, blow-drys and waxing are available on-site and the store plays host to lively brand events each season.
No Soho shopping list would be complete without historic fashion and lifestyle department store Liberty London. Its beauty hall is particularly impressive, stocking a range of brands at various price points, make-up sessions with beauticians in-store and treatment rooms by reputable London names such as Skin Laundry.
Our debut short film, The Soul of Soho, explores neighborhoods separated by oceans, history and culture but united by craft community and change. Neighborhoods bound by one name: Soho. Intimate portraits of city living in the Sohos of London, New York and Hong Kong reveal rich stories of the people who bring life to these iconic neighborhoods. Explore Soho here.
These recommendations were updated on June 25, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.