My first purchase from & Other Stories
Need to know the best places to shop in London? Well you’ve come to right place because I’ve got the 411! Oxford Street is the notorious shopping destination for tourists in London. The long street is filled with top name brands, including exclusive English ones that only exist in the United Kingdom. Some familiar brands you’ll see are Zara, H&M and Urban Outfitters. However, our study abroad director gave us some wise words of wisdom and advised us not to shop at any typical American stores, like Urban Outfitters. This is because you’ll be paying more for something that you could just purchase at home.
June is actually one of the best times to shop in London, so I got lucky. Because it’s the end of spring, nearly everything in the stores is on sale, if not 50% off or more. Walking down each block, you’ll see tons of sale signs plastered on store windows. If you’re looking for an even better bargain, then you have to visit Primemark, which is an English equivalent of Forever21. This store is huge and is the average size of a Forever21, except it’s four stories high. Prices are actually cheaper than Forever21 though. I bought socks for $2.50 each and a pack of five pretty pastel toothbrushes for only $1. Unlike Forever21, it also sells a wider variety of merchandise, from home décor to bath and beauty supplies. If you’re looking for more fashion forward clothing that resembles high fashion at an affordable price, then Topshop, Miss Selfridge and & Other Stories are a few of the fast fashion brands worth checking out. These stores are similar to Zara, where prices are higher, but still affordable. As for high-end designer and luxury brands, London is known for its beautiful and luxurious department stores. Harrods and Liberty, to name a few, are old-fashioned and antique looking stores that sell some of the most expensive brands, like Chloe and Acne Studios. Their window displays are like those artistic ones you’d see in a Union Square Holiday window. I doubt anyone in our program could actually afford the merchandise in these stores, but they’re still worth walking into to admire the visual merchandising. One thing to note though, British retailers are very strict and they sadly don’t allow capturing pictures in most stores. Therefore, if you want to document the beauty of the stores then take pictures of the exterior window displays or just be very sneaky about it!
Last but not least, if you’re looking for some souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones, then I suggest skipping the typical gift shops and visiting the retail chain, Cool Britannia. This store has all sorts of gifts, like postcards, mugs and key chains. They even have home décor, an entire corner of stuffed animals and a large t-shirt and hoodies section. The interior is extremely animated with red and blue walls and a lot of British flags are displayed everywhere.
Just like Borough Market, Oxford Street is one of those places that you can’t entirely explore in just one day. I’ll definitely be taking multiple trips back, since there are probably other unique stores I missed the first time.