Although the iconic Carnaby Street often takes the glory as Soho’s most prominent shopping thoroughfare, for those interested less in throwback Mod references and more in everything from independent record shops to bespoke tailors, Berwick Street might be worth some attention. Before you even get into the killer boutiques and bricks-n-mortar stores, you have to pay a visit to the Berwick Street Market itself. Established way back in the 18th century, the fruit and veg stalls are of a rare breed in this day and age: they are quite simply good fruit and veg stalls and not, as so many of London’s other “markets” are, glorified deli counters selling artisinal bread, rare chorizos, vanilla infused cider oils served in miniature corked bottles…I could go on. Anything, in other words, but the basics. Believe me, I mean it as the highest compliment to Berwick Street Market when I say the best in market basics is what they do best.
After grabbing more reasonably priced, ever-so-succulent, fruit than you can possibly carry, head over to Ember Yard for a memorable and meaty feast. The art of a stellar charcuterie board is one often lost today in our everything-under-one-gastro-pub culture, so imagine my delight at seeing a whole establishment committed to sourcing the very best in Spanish and Italian cheese, prosciutto, salami, and any other spiced and cured pork good you can conceive of. Opt for a heady pinot noir (say, the 2007 Cà del Bosco, Cuvée Prestige) and a board of bombastic wild boar sausage with some of Ember Yard’s uniquely delicious pork fat chips for sharing – sounds dodgy, tastes divine.
Belly full, it’s time to get shopping, because at Berwick Street, you truly are spoiled for choice. There’s British heritage big guns like Oliver Spencer and Universal Works; there’s renowned bespoke tailor Chris Kerr (for when you’re feeling fancy); or, if streetwear is more your game, there’s a great Footpatrol store stocking eminently rare kicks and, of course, the Ying and Yang of skating, Supreme and Palace, both have exclusive stores just around the corner. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on though, it’s that a good pair of denims are essential. Cue Nudie Jeans’ Repair Shop, a concept store from Nudie that essentially treats your jeans like a fine automobile. Yep, the knowledgeable Denim Heads in the shop will service and repair your Nudie jeans for you, because as we all know, denim only gets better with age. A little bit like good vinyl: funnily enough, iconic record shops Sister Ray and Reckless Records also call Berwick Street Home – as everybody knows, good things come in twos.
So, if you’re getting a little fed up of Shoreditch High Street, but don’t fancy the suffocating crowds and ten-a-penny stores of Oxford Street, you could do a lot wore than a day trip to Berwick Street. After all, where else could you find limited J Dilla wax within a minute of the best salami this side of Sicily? Exactly.