Princes Street used to be fêted as one of the best shopping streets in the country, but these days Edinburgh’s most interesting and rewarding shops are found elsewhere. If you want vintage treasures, designer cool or creative quirkiness, leave the big brands of the high street behind and take a wander down some of the city’s most historic and atmospheric streets.
Thistle Street, the quiet gem parallel with Princes Street, between Queen Street and the upmarket George Street, is a good place to start. Pop into Biscuit, where the selection of classically cut clothing and accessories has been handpicked with the modern woman in mind. You can browse in civilised comfort too, as every customer is greeted with a coffee and a biscuit.
A few doors along is Jane Davidson, with designer labels such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Alice Temperley and Canada Goose. It’s a long-established favourite with the well-dressed citizens of Edinburgh who come here for statement pieces for a special occasion.
No outfit is complete without accessories, of course, and Pam Jenkins offers a wonderland of fine shoes and handbags from the likes of Christian Louboutin, Tory Burch and Jimmy Choo.
Matching ancient Scottish traditions with modern Scottish creativity is 21st Century Kilts. This is the place to buy a bespoke, original and very contemporary kilt.
Carry that luxury style through to the everyday at ALC, which specialises in stocking that elusive pair of perfect jeans. Enhance these with a little something from Kakao by K, the experts of downplayed style. Focused on Scandinavian trends not widely available in the UK, it’s a good place to pick up something that little bit more unusual. Junior fashionistas can get in on the action with Selenita’s range for children, which introduces fine, handmade clothing from top Spanish brands for ages 0-7.
From Thistle Street, head down to laidback, charming Stockbridge. To keep kids on trend, pop into Treehouse, which is on hand to help with all those important firsts for your little one, from their first school shoes to the right gear for swimming lessons. For the grown-ups, meanwhile, minimalist store Dick’s has a carefully tailored selection of menswear, womenswear and homeware, all thoughtfully selected from designers with a focus on quality. Those Were The Days is vintage heaven – you’ll find a great range of classic, iconic and designer clothes here, for men and women. It also has a fabulous bridal collection, offering the chance to find something truly unique for your wedding day.
It’s a short stroll from Stockbridge to the West End, where family-run Frontiers Boutique has an original pick for every occasion. Minutes away, luxury lingerie boutique Odyssey is not to be missed. As well as a superb array of luxe designer lines, the store has a precision waxing service so you can get everything you need in one place.
If you need a bit of bling to go with your new outfit, you’ll find quality, designer keepsakes at Edinburgh stalwart Laing Jewellers. Or head to the Grassmarket in the city’s Old Town and pop into Hannah Zakari. For bright costume jewellery that’s sure to get people talking, it’s a glorious sweetie shop of all things colourful, sourced from indie designers. Nearby is Godiva, which has vintage finds as well as beautiful handmade, ethically produced pieces from independent designers such as Karen Mabon – whose vibrant silk scarves finish off any outfit – and Edinburgh-based Rowanjoy. It’s a great place for something completely one-of-a-kind. Round the corner in Victoria Street is Walker Slater, whose talented tailors fashion traditional tweeds into elegant modern clothes.
For fine silver pieces, move on up to Caroline Temple in Bruntsfield, where all the beautiful jewellery is handcrafted by founder and jeweller Caroline herself. In the same neighbourhood is Rosie Brown, a maker of intriguing, beautifully crafted silver jewellery. And on the way, make sure to stop into Totty Rocks, champions of independent Scottish fashion – they have even dressed Nicola Sturgeon!
So, to find the best on offer, duck out of the madness of Princes Street and the Royal Mile and venture into some of Auld Reekie’s quieter side streets. And if you’re looking for a little extra inspiration, don’t miss the fantastic events that will be lighting up some of the city’s legendary venues at the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival, 23-26 July.
Words: Chiara Margiotta
Biscuit Clothing, 22 Thistle St | Jane Davidson, 52 Thistle St | Pam Jenkins, 41 Thistle St | ALC, 61 Thistle St | 21st Century Kilts, 48 Thistle St | Kakao by K, 45 Thistle St | Selenita, 25A Thistle St | Treehouse, 10 Hamilton Pl | Dick’s, 3 N W Circus Pl | Those Were The Days, 26 St Stephen St | Odyssey Boutique, 39 William St | Laing Jewellers, 72 George St | Hannah Zakari, 43 Candlemaker Row | Walker Slater, 20 Victoria St | Godiva, 9 West Port | Caroline Temple, 154 Bruntsfield Pl | Totty Rocks, 45 Barclay Pl | Rosie Brown, 148 Bruntsfield Pl | Epitome, 35 Dundas St