The Daily Telegraph, February 14, 2014
London Fashion Week (held this year from February 14 to February 18) may attract a lot of press, but access is restricted to the limited few with an invite. Conversely, London's markets run throughout the year, are open to all and when it comes to clothing, jewellery and accessories the prices are, as you'd expect, significantly cheaper than those found on Bond Street and in Knightsbridge. For anyone keen to get the London look, the best London markets for fashion and clothing are listed below.
Brick Lane Market
Popular with tourists, students and an assortment of creative types from London’s East End, Brick Lane Market offers a mottled collection of clothing stalls, with tired second-hand stock, more carefully curated vintage collections and wares by young designers all available. Traders know the market draws a fashion-savvy clientele so price their best pieces accordingly, but there are bargains to be had. Additional stalls provide interior design objects – you’ll find no shortage of cushion covers here – and, particularly along the intersection of Dray Walk and Hanbury Street – you may come across sample sale with hefty discounts from big-name designers. The surrounding area also includes various independent clothing shops and plenty of visitors end their visit with dinner at one of Brick Lane’s curry houses. Be aware that the quality is variable, however, and the hawkers who seek to usher customers into their venues can be irritating.
When: Sundays, from 9am to 5pm approximately
Where: Brick Lane, E1
Tube: Liverpool Street or Aldgate East
By Brick Lane, Spitalfields Market is open seven days a week but, if you’re looking for clothing, the best day to visit is Saturday. That’s when the “Spitalfields Saturday Style Market” is held, where visitors will find original clothing, accessories, ethically made goods and more from about 60 different, predominantly London-based designers. Live music and entertainment performances occasionally take place and there are a number of standalone clothing shops surrounding the market. Plenty of high-street dining options abound too, but if you’d prefer independent eateries a detour to nearby Shoreditch is probably your best bet.
When: Saturday’s market takes place from 11am to 5pm
Where: 16 Horner Square, E1 6EW
Tube: Liverpool Street
Portobello Road Market
Always crowded on Saturdays, Portobello Road Market is also open on Friday and although there are fewer stalls the experience is more comfortable. As on Saturdays, the market’s vintage clothes market is held under the Westway flyover and Fridays is typically when the top dealers ply their trade. If you’re willing to invest time in your visit, expect to find some beautiful, original and unique articles of clothing.
When: On Fridays and Saturdays the market runs from 9am to 7pm
Where: Portobello Road, W10 5TA
Tube: Ladbroke Grove; Notting Hill Gate
One of London’s most famous markets, this stalwart has been going for more than 30 years. These days it’s more likely to attract foreign tourists rather than Londoners – organisers claim that 500,000 people visit each week which seems an incredible amount, but expect crowds whenever you might visit. In addition to alternative and vintage clothing, you’ll find jewellery, a smattering of goods by young designers and club wear. This is one of the more affordable places to shop but quality is variable.
When: The market is open from 10am-6pm throughout the week, with weekends and bank holidays particularly popular
Where: Camden High Street, London NW1 8NH
Tube: Camden Town; Chalk Farm Road
Small but well-regarded, Broadway Market is another East End staple, held each Saturday by London Fields. The clothing options are generally limited to a few stalls selling vintage and second-hand ware, but visitors here can combine their visit with a journey to the nearby Burberry and Pringle outlet stores.
When: Saturdays from 9am to 5pm
Where: Broadway Market, E8 4PH
Overground: Hackney Central; Haggerston
Petticoat Lane Market
Another longstanding option, Petticoat Lane Market has been going since the 1750s. Less attractive and more chaotic than many of the others, it’s nonetheless a good choice for cheap basics and those shopping on a tight budget. In addition to discounted surplus stocks from major high-street retailers, expect to find plenty of leatherware and some dubious polyester pieces.
When: Sundays 9am-2pm
Where: Middlesex Street and surrounding side streets, E1
Tube: Aldgate East, Aldgate, Liverpool Street