London is a vibrant city teeming with opportunities for creativity. I have my own clothing brand, and so upon arrival to London, getting a hold on what London fashion had to offer was paramount to me. This piece is split into 4 sections.One will focus on the new and exciting brands essential to the character of London fashion. Second, I will turn my attention to pop up events. 3rd is thrift shops and cheaper options. Lastly, I will discuss what resources are available when it comes to creating your own clothing in London. The British pound is stronger than the US dollar, so some of these places tend to be expensive. I tried to limit this piece to shops that have items for less than $100. However, exploring shops and fashion districts is a great way to feel more local and comfortable in a new area regardless of the price points.
There are many stores that are exclusive to London. Take advantage of your time abroad and get some things you can only find here. Even after you leave, you’ll have invaluable items that will always remind you of your time here. Champion,the sweat brand that has collaborated with the likes of BEAMS Japan, Bathing Ape and Urban Outfitters has its own store in London. The only other Champion store you can find is in Amsterdam. Some of the exclusive collaborations can be expensive, but the simpler items like sweatpants and t shirts sit around $30 or$50. It is located in Soho which is right in central London. After you visit the Champion store make sure to visit the Clarks Originals store also in Soho.It is home to exclusive Clarks collaborations and new experimental silhouettes that push the boundary of what Clarks is known for. I would highly recommend going to this store if you’re looking for new takes on classic looks. Another neighborhood to check out is Shoreditch. It is in East London, only about 30 minutes by train or bus from Mile End which is where my QueenMary campus is located. GoodHood, a store you can only find in London, is located in Shoreditch. It holds high end brands like Commes des Garcon and more streetwear brands like Stray Rats. The brand selection is very curated and has a nice balance of formal and street aesthetic. They have a great collection of classic sneakers too. You can pick up some Old Skool Vansor One Star Converse in unique color ways. These retail for around $60.
Pop Up Events
In addition to these permanent stores make sure to stay up to date on your favorite brands and influencers on what pop ups they may host in London. In my first 2 weeks in London I was able to attend 4 different pop up shops/special events just from visiting stores and researching on Instagram. Daily Paper,Mains and Carhartt are among the brands that hosted events like these. Most of these events offer free drinks, and have free entry if you’re over 18. They are great opportunities for seeing modern fashion design while also getting a taste of London night life. All for no money at all. Make sure that when you visit the stores I mentioned before you ask the staff if they have or know of any events coming up so you can stay in the loop.
Thrifting for Gold
Next on the agenda is thrift offerings in London. The Shoreditch area comes alive with thrift vendors on the weekend. You can take a 20 minute bus ride from the Mile End Queen Mary Campus and walk through a whole strip of vintage and cheap offerings. Petticoat Lane Market Is an outdoor market where local vendors come and sell basic t shirts, jackets and London themed items. T shirts can be as cheap as $8. Jackets and warm vests go for around $20. After walking through the strip, make your way to Old Spitalfields Market, which houses more vendors.You can also find home items as well, like vases and plants. Brick Lane Vintage Market is another place that’s worth checking out. It is open from Thursday to Sunday. There are close to 30 vendors in this one site. The prices range from$15 to $40. There is also a food court upstairs with trendy offerings. After you check out Brick Lane, head to Beyond Retro in the Shoreditch area. It’s a big store and has a range of prices. I was able pick up a nice winter jacket for $60. The jacket usually would have cost near $150. So go thrifting and cure your homesickness!
Create Your Own
Lastly,here are some options for creating your own clothing. Print Club London provides a studio space for people to silk screen their own items. The studio is 24/7 and a month member ship is $130 a month, but $100 a month if you do more than 2 month consecutively. You do have to pay for your own screen and paints which are available at your local paint shop. Another resource is a brand called Positive Press. They take your order and screen items for you.They offer blank items to print on but you can also provide your own.
In conclusion, don’t forget to make the most of your time here in London. A metropolitan area like this is teeming with creative people. As you explore the options listed above make sure to meet people and get to know local London creatives.It’s the best way to find out about the next event, and the next fun thing to do.
Jahmir Duran is an African-American Studies major at Wesleyan University and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at Queen Mary University of London in England for the academic year 2018-2019. He is an International Correspondent for IFSA-Butler through the Work-To-StudyProgram.