Friday, 21 September 2012

A Guide to Fabric Shopping In London

I've written this guide mostly because I spend a lot of time in my life telling people about where to buy fabric in London but also because when I went fabric shopping Paris, I found it really helpful to have a guide of not only where the best shops were but what they would stock.

This is by no means an definitive guide, if you have any suggestions or think I've missed somewhere major, let me know! Also all opinions on these places are based on my experiences and all of this was accurate when I wrote it but could all change.

There are two main places I go for fabrics; the Goldhawk Road in Hammersmith and Berwick Street in Soho.

Berwick Street 

Berwick Street is in the heart of Soho, if you come from Piccadilly Circus you'll get to see plenty of sex shops and a porn cinema on your way. Berwick Street is used by most of theatre land for costumes, but high central London rents mean very high prices. Don't expect to pay anything less than £15 per metre for the most basic fabrics and for the truly spectacular upwards of £100 is the norm. However if your looking for something particularly beautiful, you will probably find it here.

How to get there; You can get to Berwick Street either from Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus tube stations, depending on which tube station you use brings you out at either end of the road. 

To get there from Oxford Circus ;Just walk towards the big M&S on the side of the road opposite Topshop towards Tottenham Court Road (you could actually come from TCR and walk up towards Oxford Circus too) then you just turn off down Berwick Street. A shop called 'Miss London' is on the corner where you turn currently, but that could change.

To get there from Piccadilly; Come out of Piccadilly Circus and go towards the big Boots, McDonalds and the Trocadero. Walk up the road with McDonalds on,(Shaftsbury Avenue) past The Rainforest Cafe. Turn just after the Apollo theatre onto Rupert Street. Walk to the top and you'll see Madame JoJo's. There's a alley/pedestrian walk way, just walk up to the top of that.

There are probably about 10 fabric shops on the road as well as a bunch of jewelry wholesalers (they aren't open to the public) and some nice cafes and new things are opening all the time. My favourites are;

Cloth House
There are two Cloth Houses one at the Oxford Circus end of the road and one at the piccadilly Circus end of the road. Oxford Circus cloth house sells mostly printed cottons, poplins, ginghams and denims.

The Piccadilly Circus Cloth House sells silks, more unusual textural fabrics, silk velvet, suitings and jerseys. Both have a really stunning selection and really lovely staff. One girl once told me that all the fabrics to make the sets for Harry Potter were bought from them. 

They really have their visual merchandising down pat with the shop decorated with bunting, vintage shoe blocks and pretty displays. 

The smallest cut is 10cm (I think) and the minimum card payment is £10 which has led lead me to buy extra fabric on several occasions as there is no cash point nearby. They also do a selection of trims, ribbon and other haby.

And the all important question for students... Do they do samples? 
Yes they do, but like most places on Berwick Street they have signs up about what times you can ask for samples and how many. I've never been refused a sample because its 'the wrong time' or told I can't have anymore. As long as the place isn't crazy busy and you are polite I think most staff are happy to help you.

Borowick Fabrics
Borowick Fabric is run by your typical 'rag-trade geezer'. They are all very helpful and they sell a good selection of sequin-y fabrics as well as leathers. They do dylon dyes and selection of haby such as pins and needles. They also do samples.

Silk Society/Broadwick Silks/The Berwick Street Cloth Shop
All three of these fabric shops are owned by the same company,(based on cross overs of staff and fabrics) and go to them on a saturday and you'll see lots of brides choosing fabrics for wedding dresses. 

Lots of silks here (as the names suggest) but also heavly beaded fabrics and other textual interesting fabrics. They don't do samples (alot of them just wouldn't work as samples and would fall apart) but you can buy small amounts and the staff are super helpful.

Kleins are a trade haberdashery and therefore are only open on weekdays. I wish I'd known about this place when I was 14, they sell every kind of motif (or patches) you could possibly want as well as a big selection of moon threads, ribbons and trims. They also stock Rit dyes.

There are several more fabric shops down Berwick Street, these are just my favourites.

There is also; a great place for tea called Yumcha, the best breakfast in London at The Breakfast Club and Gosh! Comics that sells some really beautiful books.

Nearby (From Oxford Circus)

Button Queen

They sell practically every button imaginable at The Button Queen. Just choose the ones you want from the books or wall displays and ask at the counter. The staff can be a little snooty (or as I call it 'buttonyier than thou'). You can sometimes here people practicing their opera singing from outside too. It's easiest to get to Button Queen from Bond Street. Just cross the road and walk down James Street

VV Rouloux 

VV Rouloux is just round the corner from The Button Queen. Just keep following the road down. It's opposite a French Sole. VV has a great, but expensive selection of ribbon and trims. They also sell fantastic fake birds.

Macculloch and Wallis

Macculloch and Wallis is an old fashioned haberdashers over 3 floors. 

They have a huge selection of threads, bias bindings, trims, shoulder pads, lining and everything else. They do the best selection of buckram and interfacing. The staff are hit and miss and the queues can be quite long. 

To get there from Oxford Circus, walk towards John Lewis and Selfridges (away from Topshop) on the opposite side of the road to Debenhams is Dering Street which is the road Macculloch and Wallis is on. You turn at the corner with the swarofski shop on.

Goldhawk Road

How to get there; It really is as easy as getting off at Goldhawk Road on the Hammersmith and City Line and turning right. It's just round the corner from the Westfield too, literally walking distance. You can walk round from Shepard's Bush Market or Shepard's Bush. Or even Wood Lane.

Want to go from goldhawk road to Berwick street? Or Oxford Circus to Goldhawk Road? Get the 94 bus, it takes about 20 minutes.

There are about 10 fabric shops down this road, so you'll probably find what you're looking for.

A-One Fabrics and Classic Textiles are my two favourites (lots of printed cottons in both), but I always look in all of them. Unique fabrics has some lovely cotton satins, Uk Textiles has the best sandwashed silks, but all of them have something worth a look.

And the all important question for students... Do they do samples? 

Most do, some don't, you have to ask.


Walter Reginald

Walter Reginald sells leather and I think is the best in London. There's a massive choice and they are reasonable priced. I paid about £60 for enough leather to make a leather jacket. You can get there from Shadwell on the DLR.

London Trimmings

London Trimming is at Whitechapel. Just turn left when you come out of the tube station, walk past the big Sainburys and round the corner. It's trade only so you'll have to give your details and they are only open on weekdays. This place has everything at very reasonable prices which makes up for the fact that you'll have to stand and clear your throat at the counter for about 20mins. A lot of the stuff you can't get out yourself you have to ask them to fetch it. They stock Moon Threads, YKK zips and RiRi zips. They also carry the metal bits at the top and bottom of zips for shortening them. Kayne West was once in the Metro for shopping here. Wonder how long he had to wait...


Unknown said...

This is such an informative guide, and so useful! Thanks for taking the time to write it!

Rainbow Gatherer said...

Lovely post, I went to the ones in Soho I also went to the fabric shops in Paris,Montmartre, The Parisian ones were much more beautiful and has so many variety than the ones in London. They were huge shops.

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