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LONDON'S ICONIC SHOPPING STREETS

04.08.12

Above all else, London is renowned for being a shopping mecca. From high end designer to independent boutiques, vintage shops, markets and the world's biggest high street retailers - you can find it all in our capital city. And some streets, more than others, are names which trip off the tongue. We take a look at London's most iconic shopping streets.

It's hard to imagine that Portobello Road was once a country lane leading to the green fields of Kensal Green via Portobello Farm, but this is exactly what it was until the second half of the 19th Century.

These days, Portobello is home to the famous Portobello market, which takes place on Saturdays, as well as a wealth of antiques shops and independent boutiques. Portobello is also home to the famous Electric Cinema, a host of bars and pubs, and an impressive number of tourists, trying to find that blue door from 'Notting Hill' (sadly, it no longer exists).

Kings Road was originally constructed as a private road to enable King James II to travel to Kew. Whilst it's not quite so exclusive these days, it still maintains an air of pomp thanks to its array of designer shops.

Famous in popular culture for its 60s heyday, Kings Road was home to Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's famous SEX boutique, the precursor to Westwood's eponymous label. These days, Kings Road combines the exclusive and the edgy with high street names against independent boutiques, as well as the likes of the Saatchi Gallery, situated at its Eastern end. Our top tip? The shop at Bluebird for an ever-changing selection of gifts and clothing and - of course - the iconic Reiss store at the Sloane Square end of the street.

Bond Street is a mecca for designer clothing and jewellery, not just in London and the UK, but across the globe. Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Cartier, Chopard, Harry Winston - the list of names on the street is almost endless. The street first became a shopping destination in the 18th Century, and is renowned as being the most expensive retail location in Europe.

Nothing says 60s style quite like Carnaby. Although the street has been a shopping destination since the 1820's, it was the 60s that saw the street develop into a haven for both mod and hippie style. Mary Quant, The Small Faces, The Who and Rolling Stones all had an affinity with the street, helping to cement its reputation as being at the heart of swinging 60s London.

These days, Carnaby Street is pedestrianised and - thanks in part to its location between commercial Oxford Street and ebullient Soho - still at the heart of the London scene. Our top tip is to check out the Carnaby decorations at Christmas - last year, we loved their giant inflatable light-up snowmen.

Brick Lane is the street on our list that has the most varied history. Originally called 'Whitechapel Lane', the street's name was changed to reflect the brick and tile manufacture that began in the 15th Century. Now famous for a plethora of Indian restaurants at its Northern end, through to vintage shops and cafes at the South, it has been transformed by waves of new inhabitants during its life - from Hugenot refugees in the 17th Century, Irish and Jewish inhabitants in the 19th century, through to a large Bangladeshi community today. We love it on Sundays, during the Spitalfields market, when street traders and market stall holders open their stalls in the street's mid section.