As with the neighborhood’s hotels, shopping in East London isn’t so grand, and it’s not quite posh, but it is edgy, a bit grungy, and, not least of all, full of stylish surprises. And therein lies its charm. Amid the area’s quintessentially English mishmash of serenely beautiful Hawksmoor churches, elegant Huguenot terraces, chaotic markets, and quirky one-off ateliers, shoppers possessed of a keen eye and a little bit of luck just might uncover the next big thing.
Run by stylist Emily Chalmers, the boutique—open in Shoreditch for just over a year—maintains a bohemian spirit with an eclectic selection of decorative and functional home accessories. British artist Deborah Bowness’s witty hand-printed trompe l’oeil wallpaper ($260 per roll) features panels of dresses on hangers or messy bookshelves, and vintage plates are given new life by the delicately printed attentions of designer Lou Rota (from $35). $ 3 Redchurch St.; 44-207/033-3532; caravanstyle.com.
Ann Shore’s emporium in Spitalfields has long had a following among prominent designers like Philippe Starck and Tom Dixon. Favorites here include jasmine-scented beeswax candles ($20); botanical essential-oil incense sticks ($8); reclaimed linens from high-end hotels (from $8); clothing embellished with found natural objects like shells, bark, seeds, and crystal (from $40); and vintage furniture sourced from around the world. 91 Brick Ln. 44-75/0168-3873; storydeli.com.
3. Gallery Fumi
Valerio Capo and Sam Pratt have their fingers on the pulse of avant-garde designs for the home, from Paul Cocksedge’s polystyrene and neon hanging lamps to Max Lamb’s “Rusty Sheet” series of laser-cut-steel chairs and tables (all from $2,500). This two-year-old Shoreditch stop is also one of only two places in London that stock furniture from the hip Lebanese brand Bokja, which reupholsters pieces from the sixties and seventies in vintage textiles from Central Asia (from $4,000). 87–89 Tabernacle St.; 44-20/7490-2366; galleryfumi.com.
4. Labour and Wait
This beloved eight-year-old shop in Spitalfields sells new versions of those old-fashioned but utterly useful things that were once the staple of an orderly household: rope doorstops ($90), enamel bread bins (from $100), galvanized-steel watering cans ($45) and buckets (from $25), even somehow-stylish brooms (from $25). 18 Cheshire St.; 44-207/729-6253; labourandwait.co.uk.
5. The Shop
Most so-called vintage places are stocked with eminently missable secondhand tat. This 20-year-old Shoreditch spot, however, is something else entirely, filled with perfectly curated women’s clothing and accessories from the twenties through the eighties, plus colorful textiles, crocheted blankets, and a particularly bountiful selection of scarves (no fewer than 500 at all times, including patterns from Hermès and Liberty of London). The thrill lies in the rummage; a recent visit revealed a black Bellville Sassoon dress from the eighties for $45. 3 Cheshire St.; 44-207/739-5631.
At these smartly edited, side-by-side his-and-hers boutiques (plus a nearby tailor shop), husband-and-wife team Philip and Brix Start cull the season’s must-have pieces (jackets, costume jewelry, sunglasses) from fashion-forward names like Rick Owens and Isabel Marant as well as even more interesting finds from under-the-radar and often British designers like Mother of Pearl. Jeans addicts love the Starts, as Brix has the world of denim all figured out. Favorite brands include the label Prps (she commissioned an exclusive boyfriend jean from them) and Natural Selection, a British men’s line. 42–44 Rivington St. (women’s); 59 Rivington St. (men’s); 40 Rivington St. (tailor); start-london.com.
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.