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