When you think of Soho, what comes to mind? Sex shops on Wardour street? The array of theatres? Whatever it is, it’s probably not the choice of luxury stores. Because when it comes to shopping, Soho is so neatly sandwiched between high end Mayfair and high street Oxford Circus, you probably don't consider it a spot to mooch. Brunch, yes. Browsing? Maybe not. But then why is JW Anderson opening a store here? And Ganni opened its London flagship late last year. Perhaps we need to reconsider, because in the last few years, right under our noses, the selection of boutiques has definitely become compelling.
First and foremost, Liberty. It goes without saying that the Tudor-style store has always had a stronghold in the area. For us, it’s the core of Soho. Not the geographic centre, but it is the emotional heart. It’s the official marker where the crowds of tourists from Regent and Oxford Street ease off, and Soho’s bustle begins. Its higgledy-piggledy structure and eclectic offering is much like that of Soho’s.
The rise of Soho started with streetwear. If you’ve ever noticed queues of Gen Z-ers in oversized North Face jackets on Peter street, you’ll have been passing Supreme. The first monobrand skate store in Soho, since opening its doors in 2011 an influx of skate shops have since appeared. It’s thanks to Supreme that Soho is now a major contender against the ever-cool Shoreditch area, with Patta, Palace and Stussy following in its footsteps, as well as iconic Slam City Skates just a hop, skip and an ollie away in Seven Dials, Covent Garden. Furthermore, Swedish label Our Legacy closed its workshop in East London to open a boutique on Soho’s Silver Place.
But perhaps the official mark for luxury streetwear was when END. opened its second UK physical space on Broadwick Street, after its hometown one in Newcastle. The lavish and expansive two-storey shop offers brands such as Aimé Leon Dore, Comme des Garçons, Off-White and Stone Island, as well as Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Balenciaga. Adding to this, another contender on the concept store front is Machine A on Brewer Street, ideal for more avant-garde pieces from A-COLD-WALL, Raf Simons and Craig Green.
JW Anderson, often quoted expressing his love for Soho's LGBT-friendly community (he also designed tattoos for Pride 2019), has chosen Brewer Street for his store (opening in mid-march). It’s also under Anderson's creative direction that Loewe opened a pop-up for its diffusion outerwear line Eye/LOEWE/Nature on the same street in January last year.
Down Lexington Street, there's Alex Eagle - the carefully curated women’s boutique that stocks a curated edit of lifestyle, art and fashion pieces. Just south from there is Fiorucci, the iconic Italian lifestyle label born in the 1960s, that eventually became a hip New York store in the 70s. After a renaissance in 2015, under new ownership the brand took up residence at a 5,000 square-foot store on the corner. On opening it threw arguably one of the coolest Theo Adams fashion parties since Studio 54 during London Fashion Week in 2017.
Adding to its international roster, Soho offers designers hailing from Milan to the Nordic region. Possibly one the most exciting additions in recent months is Danish label Ganni, which sits on the corner of Beak and Upper James Street. Credited for reinventing Scandi style, Ganni's new digs are in spitting distance from Swedish fragrance brand Byredo - you can practically smell the Gypsy Water from the changing rooms.
Continuing with the Nordic theme, Swedish brands Eytys (pronounced ‘eighties’) and Axel Arigato have their flagship sneaker stores in Soho. Axel Arigato dishes up clean, minimal and pretty timeless silhouettes, but if your preferences sway towards a chunkier trainer, then Eytys’ Angel are like Buffalo boots that can be worn appropriately past your 22nd birthday - ideal.