Brighton has a great range of independent shops and boutiques. From record shops and retro clothing to Antiques Bonsai Trees as well as a mix of fine delis, traditional butchers and organic greengrocers. The main Brighton shopping areas are in the The Lanes, The North Laine and Kemptown, and specifically for Art the Artists quarter in the Kings Road arches on the seafront.
If however you are after the standard high street shops (Primark, H&M, Marks & Spencers, etc) the area from the Clocktower and west along Western Road, including the undercover Churchill Square Shopping Centre is where to head.
East of the Palace Pier, Kemptown named after Thomas Kemp who developed the area (and ended up leaving England to escape his creditors) is a mixture of seafront crescents and elegant squares. It has a bustling high street (St James Street) running through the centre that gives it a village feel.
As well as being the centre of Brighton Gay scene and so having a number of shops that are Gay and Lesbian oriented, it’s also good for Antiques and collectibles especially at the garishly pink Brighton Flea Market. The Kemptown Bookshop is Brighton’s biggest independent bookshop with a pleasant café upstairs, perfect for mulling over purchases.
Brighton Flea Market – 31A Upper St James’ Street, www.flea-markets.co.uk
KempTown Bookshop – 91 St George’s Road, www.kemptownbookshop.co.uk
Metrodeco – Styled as a 1930’s Parisian tea shop with 2 floors of art deco and 20th centuary furniture for sale, 38 Upper St James’ Street, www.metro-deco.com
All Eras – Fun and quirky antiques, vintage goodies, retro items and more. 29 Upper St James’s Street.
Gelataria De Luca – Authentic gelato Ice cream made by Italian staff trained in Turin, 107 St. James’s Street.
The winding narrow streets of The Lanes (often referred to locally as ‘twittens’) is the site the original fishing village ‘Brighthelmstone’. Today it’s a mixture of jewellery, antiques, art, fashion and furniture, with plenty of places to eat and drink when you’re done. The area has a special almost medieval feeling, especially when the Christmas lights are turned on from November.
For fashion labels head to the Dukes lane area where you can find independent and Brand owned shops selling all the well known labels such as Armani, D&G, Ted Baker, Burberry, Fred Perry etc. Whilst you’re there you can also glam yourself up at Mac Cosmetics. Check this website for a full list of the shops in Dukes Lane.
England at Home has a really fun range of Interior design, furniture and small gifts and you can check out suits of Armour, Bronze age swords and duelling pistols (amongst other things) all for sale at The Lanes Armory, 26 Meeting House Lane, www.thelanesarmoury.co.uk.
If you are looking for Jewelery, there really are so many shops in The Lanes you are spoiled for choice. However, Penelope’s Portmanteau at 42a Ship Street (for the girls) is great fun and has Vintage jewelery, furs, handbags and accessories.
For Art try the lanes gallery, at 32 Meeting House Lane, www.thelanesgallery.co.uk, the Alexander gallery at 7 East Street, www.thealexandergallery.co.uk, and No Walls at 13 Prince Albert Street, www.nowallsgallery.com
For something a little different there is the Brighton Body Casting Studio in the narrowTtwitten Ship Street gardens. As the name suggests it’s a place where they can take a cast from any part of your body and produce a sculpture. The work is not to everyone’s taste, but it regularly stops people in their tracks as they are walking past, which can cause a bit of a bottleneck in the narrow ‘Twitten’. The Twitten has been dubbed Brighton’s ‘naughty little ally’ because it also hosts the She Said Erotic Boutique with quirky sexy clothing and gifts.
The North Laine
The North Laine is street upon street of independent shops, restaurants and café’s, however the main ones are Bond Street, Gardner Street, Kensington Gardens and Sydney Street. Once firmly in the shadow of the ‘The Lanes’, in recent years development (especially around Jubilee Square) has really boosted the area in terms of quality and quantity, and it’s now arguably the best place in the city for shopping.
Try the pedestrianized Kensington Gardens for a selection of art, homewares, bookshops and retro clothes. Look out for Snoopers Paradise which has something for everyone. Gardener Street is packed with Cafes as well as specialty gift and sweet shops. It’s also a buzzing spot on sunny days and perfect for people watching. Upper Gardner Street has a good Saturday open-air food market selling local meats, cheeses, fish and vegetables and there is a Farmers Market at Diplock Yard, 73 North Road open every Wednesday 9am -2.00pm and Saturday 9am -4.30pm.
For retro clothing try the huge warehouse style Beyond Retro – 42 Vine Street; and To Be Worn Again – 24 Sydney Street, Bobby Sox Vintage, 34 Sydney Street and Dirty Harry at 6 Sydney Street.
Mad Hatters (89 Trafalgar Street) for great Head Gear and Hats, www.madhattersandfriends.co.uk
Vegetarian Shoes for well, Vegetarian Shoes – 12 Gardner Street, www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk.
Jump the Gun for Mod revivals, Mohair suits and Ben Sherman. 36 Gardner Street www.jumpthegun.co.uk
Velvet for lifestyle products, 27 Bond Street, www.velvetstore.co.uk
Laste for Beautiful Bespoke shoes, 6 Bond Street, www.laste.co.uk
Gresham Blake for high quality Bespoke suits and shirts, 20 Bond Street, www.greshamblake.com
Borderline Records, Funk, Rock, Soul, Hip HHop, Drum & Bass, 41 Gardner St.
Often overlooked by visitors, the Artist Quarter is a collection of art studios located in the Arches on the lower promenade by the beach, just to the east of the Palace Pier. The studios were originally Victorian fisherman workshops, used for mending nets and storing equipment. Now there are more than a dozen artists who can be seen working on their latest creations here throughout the year. You’ll find paintings, prints, jewelry, ceramics and sculptures for sale. In the summer the work spills out onto the promenade. Check the Artists Quarter Website for a full listing of all the artists currently displaying their work here.