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Threatened by the ease and accessibility of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores have been forced to evolve. Instead of luring customers with fresh fashion alone, they’re drawing them in with immersive experiences and events — curated extras like gourmet coffee, bars, barbers, bicycle workshops and sheer atmosphere. London has become an epicentre for this new wave of retail, and the following six stores are our favourites for finding far more than you bargained for.
1. Dover Street Market
The brainchild of Comme des Garçons’s Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street Market first opened its doors in 2004 on London’s Dover Street. Since then, it’s moved into Burberry’s address in nearby Haymarket and added outposts in New York, Tokyo, Singapore and Beijing. Kawakubo has said that she wanted “to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos." This means that within Dover Street Market’s doors, you’ll find a Good Design Shop, a Perfume Tower, a Pocket Shop, art installations, and, of course, plentiful menswear from the likes of JW Anderson, Balenciaga, Rick Owens, and more.
Bourdon House, a Georgian mansion in the swanky Mayfair district, is both Dunhill’s flagship store and a hybrid to beat them all. Within the 18th-century house’s perfectly proportioned walls, you’ll find a barber, spa, film screening room, and well-stocked humidor and bar. Of course, the heritage brand also keeps an in-house tailor on hand and a leather-embossing service for any custom, bespoke, or made-to-measure requests.
At the more hipster end of the market, the Goodhood store in east London is all about contemporary lifestyle. Along with stocking pieces from over 200 different brands, Goodhood’s store has an exhibition space, a café and even a life-sized log cabin. Clothes-wise, you’ll find outerwear and thick sweaters from Noma T.D., luxe basics from Norse Projects, and classic casual pieces from YMC.
Housed in the elegant central London district of Marylebone, the new menswear shop Anglo-Italian splices the best of British and Italian style. As co-owner Alex Pirounis says, “We wanted to bring the great construction of handmade Italian clothing with uncluttered English style in a place that’s about service as well as goods." Expect to find Naples-made jackets, polo shirts, knitwear and tailoring made with Anglo-Italian’s own fabrics as well as elevated touches like hand-sewn buttonholes. Before opening Anglo-Italian last summer, Pirounis ran the Amoury’s outpost in Hong Kong, and his business partner, Jake Grantham, is a Savile Row veteran – so they know their clothes and customers. “At Anglo-Italian, we’re friends. You can lounge, hang out, try on shoes – even have a whiskey."
5. The Shop at Bluebird
The Shop at Bluebird began with an outpost on the legendary King’s Road, Chelsea, and has since become a bit of a movement, with four other stores now scattered throughout London. With a curated selection of men’s and women’s clothes, a spa and lots of other lifestyle accoutrements, Bluebird is a classic hybrid store. Its next location in London’s Theatreland, Covent Garden, will house a restaurant – potentially another extension of the original location’s eatery, which has been helmed by Michelin-starred chef Chris Galvin and MasterChef judge John Torode.
6. Modern Society
East London’s Modern Society is another new-wave shop in the “hipster" mould. After spending 3 years as a pop-up shop, it finally set down roots in 2015, opening its flagship retail space complete with a café, exhibition areas and street-smart clothes, including pieces from its new casual-cool in-house label.