Guide to the Best Indie Shops in London

For those who are into the Indie scene but unable to break away from the High Street chain horror...

Record shops:

London has a rich musical history which spans the genres and times from the mod and northern scene in the sixties, through punk and post-punk in the seventies, indie pop in the eighties and Britpop in the nineties, it continues today with the city's new and exciting underground music scene.
For those who’d rather go to an original record shop instead of buying/downloading online or going to a high street chain store, here are some great shops you might like to try:

Rough Trade
Rough Trade is a record label (that signed bands such as The Smiths and The Libertines) as well as a record store (although these are now run independently from each other). It originally specialised in importing US and Jamaican music, and on the back of this quickly emerged as a leading outlet for the growing punk scene. Moving with tastes and with the times, it became something of a chameleon and managed to change its appeal through the musical ages to attract all those interested in new wave, independent and alternative music of the time.

Check out Rough Trade West and Rough Trade East the recently opened 5,000 sq. ft. shop just off Brick Lane which comes complete with coffee shop, performance stage, exhibition space, and 'snug' internet/workshop corner.

Berwick Street, Soho
Londoners and collectors from all over the world alike used to (and still do to some extent) flock to the densely stocked music shops on Berwick Street to hunt out the best second hand vinyls, indie music, and cut-price CDs. Though the area has suffered a lot in recent times due to the decline in the CD market as new technologies have taken over, there is something about owning the actual album rather than just the download which remains appealing to many. Away from the high street chains, the independent shops which are left are a treasure-trove for those looking for some indie and other non-pop music.

Try Sister Ray which seems to have bucked the trend and has actually expanded its Berwick Street shop. Others on the same stretch include Vinyl Junkies and CD City.

Clothes, shoes, accessories

Carnaby Street:
This pedestrianised shopping street in Soho, near Oxford Street, actually consists of twelve pedestrianised streets with over 150 fashion and lifesyle retailers, including independent fashion retailers. At the Lambretta store you’ll find retro style clothes as well as the latest fashion. Number 22 is mainly a shoe shop, where they sell brands that you wouldn’t normally find in your average high street shoe shop. They also sell amazing clothes, t-shirts, accessories, etc. If you’re into mod fashion, Merc is the place to go.

Thea sells vintage clothing as well as collections by new independent designers and designer customised retro items. You can get a T-shirt for £5 but you might also find items for £500...a real mix!

Retro World store in Stables Market sells ethnic blouses, skirts, dresses, tux ruffle shirts, Adidas and Puma from the 60’s and 70’s, Le Coq Sportif, American work shirts, polyester shirts, 60’s mini dresses and Burberry coats. Similarly to Thea you can find thing for as little as a fiver, but equally you could splash out £600 for some top-end items.

Arch 54, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH

Modern Age stocks a large range of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s clothes for men and women. They also sell suits, Hawaiian shirts, leather jackets, trousers, coats, dresses and jackets. A lot of what they stock is available to either buy or hire.

Modern Age: 65 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1

Theatre 71: The store’s current best sellers include Lewis Leathers and US military clothing. They also sell printed t-shirts, by designers Stables Market and Covent Garden and one-off vintage pieces. They also hire to costume departments of stage and film companies, that’s how authentic the clothes are.

Rokit: Rokit is the name of a vintage shops chain, the Camden store probably being the best branch. They sell genuine vintage and collectable clothing, low-priced nearly new items and customized clothes.

At the Arches (at the back of Stables Market), there are many more great shops, here are some of them:

Viola Tricola is a colourful and stylish shop that sells a good quality selection of vintage stock.

Vintage Planet has a wide range of European vintage clothing as well as accessories and shoes on sale.

Dirty Harry which is most famous for its retro military clothing.

East London

Brick Lane Market is the essence of East End London, there are Jewish bagel shops, Bangladeshi curry houses, Indian sari silks – while Cockneys are crying out their wares. It attracts lots of young Londoners; it’s the place to go for second-hand furniture, unusual clothes and accessories.

Old Spitalfields Market is surrounded by independent shops that sell hand-made crafts, fashion and gifts. Busiest on Sundays, the market is also there Monday to Friday; with most shops open 7 days a week.

Sunday Up Market is in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. You’ll find fashion, accessories, crafts, interiors, music as well as an excellent food area.

Absolute Vintage is arguably a collection of lots of junk amid a certain sense of chaos, but having said that it's the kind of place where you'll find amazing accessories and they’ve also got a massive shoe selection.
15 Hanbury Street, Off Brick Lane, London E1

Blondie is just around the corner from Absolute Vintage, the sister store. Blondie is a bit more designer oriented.
Unit 2, 114-118 Commercial Street, London E1

Beyond Retro is a huge warehouse full of everything. It’s located on a really cool street with some quirky shops - like Labour and Wait; the whole street is quite unique shops-wise, it’s worth checking it out.
110-112 Cheshire Street, London, E2 6EJ

Rockit, as well as the branch in Camden, also has an outlet in East London. Apart from the usual vintage clothes, the Brick Lane branch often sells very interesting, unique pieces.
101 & 107 Brick Lane, E1

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