Set up in 2006 by James Shaw and Alastair Rae, Albam Clothing now operates four stores throughout London. Their first store was in Soho, followed by Spitalfields, Islington’s Upper Street and, most recently, Covent Garden. The guys behind Albam also have a small studio in Nottingham where they design and create their pieces, as well as teach. The focus of Albam’s collection is wardrobe essentials, with fad fashions avoided in favour of timeless, functional pieces. There’s plenty of very British casualwear, with jumpers, cords, made-to-measure denim and anoraks— think fisherman chic, perhaps.
Topman General Store
The inside of the Topman General Store is as stylish as its collection, a very Shoreditch boutique with exposed brick and plenty of prints. An offshoot of the Topman mega-chain, the General Store was set up by Topman director Gordon Richardson and Matthew Murphy of B-store, and features a highly curated edit of key designer pieces from the high street stores alongside a selection of independent labels and exclusive collaborations. Best of all? High Street price tags in a premium designer district.
Founders Jo Sindle and Kyle Stewart carefully curate the pieces for their Shoreditch boutique from around the world, saying they aim to ensure that ‘every product has a story and relevance to our ethos’. They sell over 200 left-field brands across menswear, womenswear, lifestyle and cosmetics, with the collection of men’s streetwear housing a significant number of independent Japanese labels such as A Bathing Ape. They also have a large cabinet of watches, jewellery and sunglasses at reasonable prices, and highly coveted limited edition Vans. Their Curtain Road location is a massive step up size-wise, the result of the success they enjoyed since opening their original store in Hoxton, and has now incorporated a basement cafe into the shopping experience.
Owners of Present, Eddie Prendergast and Steve Davies, had already founded the hugely successful menswear brand Duffer of St George before opening their Shoreditch store. The stock list combines their own collection of t-shirts and knitwear with British streetwear brands such as Billionaire Boys Club, Japanese streetwear, French staples and British heritage from the likes of Mackintosh and Wolsey. There’s also an in-house coffee bar, and plenty of high-end grooming products.
The Vintage Showroom
There’s a distinct museum-y feel throughout The Vintage Showroom in Covent Garden — Laurence King publishing have even published a book titled ‘Vintage Menswear— A Collection From The Vintage Showroom’, showcasing a key selection from the store’s huge archive. Co-founders Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett collect pieces from the 20th century, including military and sports clothing, classic English tailoring and country wear. While the store upstairs is open to anyone, they also operate a showroom and studio, both on a separate site in Notting Hill and below the Covent Garden store, which house a collection to be viewed by appointment only, for the inspiration of designers and stylists.
Gieves and Hawkes
They may well be out of most people’s price range, but Gieves and Hawkes of London’s renowned Savile Row have to be included on the basis of their iconic standing alone. Founded in 1771, they are one of the oldest bespoke tailors in the world and hold numerous Royal Warrants (meaning they supply to members of the Royal Family). Their suits are worn by world leaders and other famous figures across the globe, and they provide less pricey ready-to-wear pieces as well as bespoke tailoring. It’s worth having a look around their recently revamped emporium, even if you’re not in the market for a suit.