Consider this a list of reasons to explore one of London’s lesser-appreciated fashion districts.
Papermache Tiger, Islington | © Coutesy of Papermache Tiger
London’s concept stores may be somewhat hidden but they’re always worth the looking for, and Papermache Tiger is a case in point. As much a lifestyle space as it is a fashion boutique, this store is decked out with a plethora of oversized house plants and even a coffee and snack bar with a couple of little window seats, should time be on your side. Expect contemporary luxury hanging on the minimalist rails, from swimwear label Araks to New York-based leather innovators Beaufille.
Famous for its authentic antique stores and weekly vintage markets, as well as one of the city’s few remaining pedestrianised streets in London, Camden Passage offers a taste of what shopping in this city was once like. Whether or not you’re likely to buy something from one of these stalls is another matter entirely, but it’s the perfect place to wander and do a bit of people watching. There have, of course, been modern-day additions to the street’s portfolio, spanning not just boutiques but coffee shops and bars as well.
Être Cécile, Islington | © Coutesy of Papermache Tiger
British contemporary label Être Cécile, the brainchild of Yasmin Sewell and Kyle Robinson and the newest addition to Islington’s fashion portfolio, brings its clean-cut, Parisian sensibility to the streets of north London by way of its first boutique on Cross Street. The interior is just as you might expect: minimalist, modern and arranged by colour palette, which is refreshingly neutral but injected with personality by way of slogans, stripes and tonal print. The only place in London where you can experience the collection first hand, you’ll leave with a new appreciation of the quality behind the brand and perhaps an unexpected purchase (the embroidered army jacket is arguably this season’s most tempting piece).
There are few fragrance labels chicer than Le Labo. Store interiors have each been designed specifically to suit their locations, with each as compact and discreet as the next, but boasting characteristically rustic unpainted walls and unique pieces of display furniture. Whether you’re in the market for a gift, a new scent for yourself or simply a shot of inspiration, it’s worth the wander down to Cross Street to stop off at this particular spot.
Coffee Shop, Contemporary, $$$
Every good shopping trip requires a caffeine hit, and Saint Espresso just off Upper Street not only offers some of the best-tasting coffee in Angel but a chic, minimalistic interior that’s exemplary of London’s coffee scene. Stop off pre- or post-trip to FARA, the charity shop next door, and settle in with a delicious hot drink and a magazine from the café’s display.
FARA in Islington is the mother of all charity shops. Positioned just a stone’s throw from Angel tube station and directly next to Saint Espresso (as also featured in this hitlist) it’s hard to miss and well worth a visit. From the everyday to the extrovert, it’s the unpredictability that gives this store its character. It’s a real treasure trove of fashion finds, so you’re just as likely to walk away with vintage designer as you are someone’s pre-loved Topshop pieces. One thing is for sure, though, the sheer volume of product and the size of the space means that, whether you were planning on purchasing or not, you’re unlikely to leave empty handed.
Take a wander down Upper Street and you can’t miss Angel Flowers with its open, street-facing location and constant display of stylish floral arrangements. Long-established as a part of the street’s make-up, it’s held prime position since 1995 and now offers services far more sophisticated than buying a bunch now and then. From bouquet deliveries to wedding arrangements, there are few events that this independent boutique can’t cater for.