Fashion Forward: Edinburgh’s Best Design Stores

By: Anna Millar

April 4, 2013

For the unsuspecting shopper, the go-to area upon touchdown in Edinburgh will often be Princes Street: the capital’s mile-long stretch of identikit high street emporiums. But as any fashion savvy local knows, there are plenty of incredible independent shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques to choose from, several of which are stocked with, and run by, Edinburgh’s most talented designers, craft-makers and fashionistas – fresh from the illustrious Edinburgh College of Art. (Alumni include the likes of Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders and Holly Fulton.) So, where to look”¦?

Edinburgh’s indies are in rude health, and for those looking for something a little special, Broughton Street is a great place to start the search. Life Story, run by Fee and Adam Storey, is home to all manner of hidden treasures, including Edinburgh College of Art graduate Fee’s own handiwork. Set in an uber-contemporary minimalist space, Life Story sells everything from printed textiles to simple but effective hand-dyed tops. Ceramics, prints, bags and shoes from home and abroad also feature, as well as some striking artwork on sale by local artist Paul Muzni.

Life Story, Edinburgh | photo Paul Hollingworth

Life Story © Paul Hollingworth

Nearby, the longer established Concrete Wardrobe has been a bit of a local institution since it opened in 2000, and sells some fantastic homeware pieces alongside a great array of purses and one-off dresses from Scottish based and trained designers.

Just a couple of doors away, local designer Joey D uses his Edinburgh studio to imagine some pretty natty recycled, bespoke fashion pieces. We’re partial to his tweedy, military-inspired handbags, as well as the crazy shoe lounge out back. Clued-up fashion fiends might recognise his pieces from their outings on the Dressed to Kilt catwalk in New York.

 Double Ball Clasp Clutch by Blair Sorley, Edinburgh Fashion Forward

Double Ball Clasp Clutch by Blair Sorley © Concrete Wardrobe

Across town, sartorial savvy abounds around the West Port and Grassmarket area, playing host to some of the most dynamic young designers in the city. Tartan tourist tat gets short shrift here in a sea of brightly coloured boutiques and hip designer-led collections. Working down a cobbled Victoria Street and into the Grassmarket make time for Totty Rocks, set up by two Edinburgh College of Art fashion course lecturers, namely Lynsey Blackburn and Holly Mitchell. The pair can often be found behind the counter putting the last stitch or button onto one of their handmade creations. Just next door, The Red Door Gallery offers up works by local artists and illustrators, as well as crafters and jewellers (the handmade brooches, in particular, putting any ordinary high street knock-off to shame).

Life Story, Edinburgh | photo Paul Hollingworth

Life Story © Paul Hollingworth

Head over to West Port and you’ll find our favourite: Godiva, where a cornucopia of skirts and frocks by local designers co-exist with a backroom of vintage goodies. It’s all about one-offs here and local in-house designer Rowan McIntosh’s playful, feminine style can be made to measure. Last but certainly not least, make sure to stop off at Herman Brown on your fashion pilgrimage, also on West Port, whose vintage and retro fashions are a must.

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Header photo of Life Story © Paul Hollingworth


Know of any other must-visit Edinburgh boutiques? Share your favourites in the comments below.


Anna Millar

Anna is a Glasgow born and Edinburgh based freelance writer and editor specialising in arts and travel. When she’s not exploring the Highlands and Islands or reviewing Scotland’s festival scene, she’s likely to be found propping up the bar at one of New York’s finest watering holes or exploring Europe’s untapped corners.