London’s High Street is well-known to the fashionable set around the world. At the intersection of Regent and Oxford Streets you’ll find a shopping frenzy at just about any time of the day. And with the likes of a massive Top Shop, River Island, Next and our new-found favourite store Primark in the vicinity, it’s no wonder the street is packed with hip young shoppers weighed down by their shopping bags. It truly is the heart of UK fashion, and the British Fashion Council decided it was time to showcase the High Street style.
High Street Fashion Week (HSFW, September 7-11)) was a way to celebrate and showcase all that London street style has to offer. As a lead-up to the actual London Fashion Week, where entrance is by media and fashion insider invite only, High Street Fashion Week is for the public to cash in on deals, check out the latest trends and take part in fun and funky live fashion shows. Here’s a glimpse into the week and what shops you must hit on your next visit to London to get the real High Street feel.
Imagine being a typical tube rider in London on your way to work, only to find that a fashion photo shoot was happening in your car. That’s how HSFW kicked off its first season — with models clad in trendy, affordable finds posing and strutting on subway cars.
Our first stop was at John Lewis, a British department store that carries luxe international labels and hot UK designers alike and definitely a store one should check out on a trip to London. During the HSFW, the store invited designers to come in and answer questions, chat about their new lines and showcase some of their work. On this day we had the chance to talk to Tanya Sarne, iconic founder of the cult label Ghost, and discuss her new Autumn/Winter collection. We swooned over the shoe section at John Lewis — a must-stop section of the store! A few days later we came back to meet with British Fashion designer Paul Costelloe, who introduced his latest collection using his own models on the fashion floor.
Okay, so you need to be warned — Primark is a massive store with loads and loads of trendy, cheap clothes, shoes and accessories that are so in-the-moment you won’t be able to pass them up. Think H&M on steroids and on an even cheaper scale (we hear your fashion hearts fluttering!) But, be prepared to face the crowds. With such great deals on trends that you’ll likely only wear that season, the store is packed with eager shoppers who aren’t shy about finding their size on the rack in front of you (expect a little bump or push from people). These are seasoned bargain shoppers who can work the crowded floor. But if you have patience, you can find amazing pieces — like the adorable flat black oxfords for eight pounds that we found, or a sexy sequined tank perfect for summer nights or under a blazer for 12 pounds, or funky yellow earrings for two pounds.
One British store that can’t be missed on the High Street is Next. Their funky, uber-trendy styles are a hit amongst young Londoners. For the first fashion week, Next opened their doors with a live mannequin and trunk show showcasing the latest, hottest looks. So while shoppers perused the edgy zipper pants and chunky accessories, they also took in an event that is usually held just for fashion insiders. If you ever get the chance to visit Manchester, you can step inside the world’s largest Next store (trust us, you will be in there for hours!)
Selfridges is a mainstay department store in the UK for fashionistas. Carrying designer labels and luxe bags, coats and shoes, we couldn’t resist heading into this store for an afternoon. Brits spend their lunch hours shopping for chic Chanel and Tiffany jewellery, Burberry trenches, Wolford lingerie and just about any beauty product you could imagine. Luckily for us, during HSFW, Selfridges also hosted a special and delicious event. A ‘God Save The Cream’ themed ice cream and entertainment installation in the Selfridges Ultralounge was packed full of people testing out new flavours of ice cream — the perfect pick-me-up after hours of shopping. And since Selfridges holds chic events all year long, any time of year is a great time to swing by.
If you want to bring back something unique and funky from the UK, then make a stop at Uniqlo. Their Japanese-inspired hoodies, leggings, cardis, sweater dresses and skirts will bring some British street cred to your wardrobe. We witnessed first hand the unique flair at a Japanese-themed party hosted by Uniqlo and Yo! Sushi (a hip and popular sushi restaurant) complete with a live DJ set, exclusive HSFW competitions and sushi in-store while we shopped.
Another department store classic is Debenhams. Featuring designs by Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald, Ted Baker, Betty Jackson and John Rocha, it’s a style maven’s hot spot for designer fashion finds. During HSFW, privileged shoppers received special deals that sent ladies in four-inch stilettos scouring racks of clothes with excitement that could rival the slew of fashion editors at Somerset House for fashion week.
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