Earning renown as an alternative fashion Mecca during the 1960s, Carnaby Street was once the hippest place to shop, home to iconic boutiques like Mary Quant, Lord John, Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin, and frequented by music icons like The Who and the Rolling Stones. In fact, the famous shopping street has become so synonymous with Swinging London that it’s been name-checked in pop hits like The Kinks’ ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ and TV shows like The Simpsons, and even inspired a musical of the same name.
Today, Carnaby Street is decidedly more demure, but the pedestrianized shopping district still retains its left-of-centre attitude, as well as its distinctive yellow arches and two plaques commemorating mod fashion pioneer John Stephen and The Small Faces (outside no.1 and no.52 respectively). Of course, the main reason to visit Carnaby Street is the shops and there are plenty to choose from, including many independent fashion, home and beauty boutiques and British brands like Ben Sherman, Paul Smith and Lyle & Scott. One notable highlight is the small shopping arcade of Kingly Court, home to some London’s most unique young designers, vintage stores and jewelry boutiques, as well as a cluster of cafés and restaurants. Look out for seasonal events too – Carnaby Street is renowned for its pop-up shops, live entertainment and street stalls, making it a colorful place to visit during the summer or Christmas holidays.