The best independent shops and designer boutiques in Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh Guide
  • 16 February 2011
The best independent shops and designer boutiques in Edinburgh

From Harvey Nichols and Iain Mellis to Analogue Books and Demijohn

Edinburgh’s streets are filled with fantastic retailers, from designer boutiques to edgy bookshops. It’s time to get your purse out

Multrees Walk is the place to go if you want to splash the cash – Edinburgh’s high-end designer shops all rub their expensive shoulders together in one street.

Harvey Nichols is here – it has five floors of designer goodies including womenswear, menswear, a food hall, a spa and hairdressing salon – and when you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped, take a seat at its Forth Floor restaurant, for cocktails, sushi or champagne, and kick back and watch the beautiful people.

Those who like to see as well as be seen head round the corner from Harvey Nichols to Oscar & Fitch , the spectacles supplier for frames that stand out from the crowd. Chunky or frameless, monochrome or too-cool-for-school sunnies, there are glasses that will turn you from geek to chic, at prices from £125 to £295.

Another landmark store in the neighbourhood is Louis Vuitton. If you need a fix of the famous monogram, come here for accessories that are strictly for people who are going places. Mulberry, too, has all the latest bags. Indulge your obsession with the latest must-have Alexa or the best-selling classic Bayswater at the shop where you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Across town is another little oasis of shops you won’t find anywhere else. Victoria Street has cool, interesting independent shops selling everything from jokes and knitting needles to one-off designs and artworks. With its graceful downhill curve and attractive shop fronts, it’s Edinburgh’s most photographed street.

The Groucho Marx-style false glasses and nose on the frontage mean you can’t miss A Ha Ha Ha, the joke shop that should be your top go-to for whoopee cushions and itching powder. Across the road, there’s always something thought-provoking going on at Analogue, the bookshop and gallery space that sells design and contemporary culture books, magazines, T-shirts, prints, CDs and DVDs.

In need of skulls, dragons or fairies? Your magical gift needs will be well catered for at the Cadies & Witchery Tours office, which is also the place to book one of the firm’s famous tours, with their speciality ‘deceased’ guide and ‘jumperooters’ who’ll make you scream as well as laugh.

Clarksons, a family-owned jeweller, is a gem of a shop that specialises in unique contemporary and Celtic-style jewellery, much of which has been handmade in the workshop above the store for more than 50 years.

A deli for all things liquid, Demijohn sells liqueurs, whiskies, wines and spirits, plus the very best olive oils and vinegars. And, just up the road at Iain Mellis

Delve into the past on the shelves of the Old Town Bookshop, which carries books from the 1650s to the present day, along with a selection of rare books, classics, prints, lithographs, maps and photographs.

Walker Slate and Totty Rocks offer distinctive Scottish tailoring in very different ways, but both are a hit with locals and visitors alike.

A quiet cobbled street of Georgian buildings a short step from Princes Street, Thistle Street has a more grown-up selection of independent designer shops, including Jane Davidson and Pam Jenkins, both of which were named among Britain’s best boutiques by Vogue in 2010.

At Jane Davidson it’s designer labels all the way, with the likes of Missoni, Diane von Furstenberg, Moncler and J Brand, together with Scottish must-haves from Queene & Belle and Cameron Taylor. Pam Jenkins, meanwhile, stocks the latest collections from leading designers such as Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo.

Along at the West End, William Street is a chic enclave of upmarket boutiques, gift shops and delis, including the newly relaunched Arkangel & Felon, which stocks an eclectic mix of edgy and wearable labels, many of them unique to this boutique. Here too is shoe designer Helen Bateman – she makes her own unique creations you won’t find anywhere else. With seasonal runs and popular staples, these courts, pumps, boots and sandals will stop you in your tracks.

Jewellery lovers won’t be able to resist the treasure trove that is Trinket and its award-winning contemporary work from Scottish jewellery designers such as Sarah Hutchison, Susan Kerr and Emma Doyle. It’s a great place for quirky, one-off finds and vintage accessories.

For a boutique that packs a punch, head to Brunstfield: Fifi Wilson is the city’s latest hot spot for women’s designer labels. Fi Lovett already has three of London’s coolest shops under her so-this-season belt, with a celeb following longer than Penny Lancaster’s legs, and has returned to her roots with the aim of dressing the capital in the likes of Bella Freud, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Odd Molly.

If all that shopping has left your feet (and plastic) fit to burst, a couple of doors along at Falko, the cakes and coffee come with the attention to detail that only a German konditormeister can command and should leave you ready to start all over again.

A Harvey Nichols Foodmarket
30–34 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH2 3AD
The eternally stylish Foodmarket was slimmed down to around 1,500 square feet recently, making way for Yo Sushi! and the Chocolate Lounge. Nevertheless, it still stocks some of the finest artisan foods and specialist international ingredients available.
B Clarksons Edinburgh
87 West Bow, Edinburgh, EH1 2JP.
A good old-fashioned, family-run jewellers, Clarksons has been going for over 50 years. Their current specialisms include Celtic-influenced pieces, and they also create bespoke pieces. Prices start at £100 for in store items.
C The Cadies & Witchery Tours
84 West Bow (Victoria Street), Edinburgh, EH1 2HH
A unique ghostly gift shop located in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. As well as selling a variety of skulls, witches, dragons and magical fairies, the shop also serves as a booking office for ghostly walking tours that have been a major attraction…
D IJ Mellis Cheesemonger
30a Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2JW
The little sister of the well-established IJ Mellis group, this crowded cheese-haven is no less exciting for it. Though it doesn't have the space for the cured meats of the other stores, there remains the spectacular range of mainly artisan cheeses…
E Totty Rocks
40 Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2JW
Totty Rocks is the main outlet of the clothing label of the same name, set up by two lecturers from the Edinburgh College of Art's fashion course. Young, fresh and seriously gorgeous girl-fashion at prices that'll make you think twice before drinking…
F Oscar and Fitch
20 Mulltrees Walk, St Andrews Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3DQ
The store of choice for the more fashion-conscious spectacle-wearer, choose from chunky and thin-rimmed, vividly colourful and monotone glasses to chuck on your face and feel good about. They've also got a splendid selection of popstar-worthy sunglasses…
G Louis Vuitton Maison
17–18 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2RB

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