It’s becoming increasingly important that we support our lovely, local independents, and the capital is full of them. We wanted to highlight a list of some of London’s independents that you should definitely check out.
Word on the Water
Nestled in a corner of Regent’s Canal is Word on the Water, AKA The London Bookbarge.
To be honest, London isn’t short of incredible, independent booksellers. With shops from Gay’s The Word and Jarndyce to London Review Bookshop, if you want it in print you’ll find it in the capital somewhere. The thing about Word on the Water is that when you find it you’ll be on a mother fucking boat.
Their range of books is pretty vast so you can pick up the latest Naomi Alderman alongside the complete lyrics of Nick Cave because…why the hell not. Their ‘request any book’ service ensures that if you can’t find what you’re looking for then you can still get your hands on it. Drop them a note with your book choice and they’ll send you a link in no time at all. Legends.
Femme Fatale Tattoo
Lockdown has given us all a lot of time to dream up weird and wonderful tattoo ideas. Thankfully London is awash with a huge range of incredible tattoo talent to fulfill all of our inky wishes. From Origin Tattoo London to The Circle London or Frith Street Tattoo, there’s no shortage of waiting lists to put your name on.
One particular highlight of London’s tattoo scene that we return to again and again, is Grace Neutral’s Femme Fatale Tattoo. For those of you who don’t know, Grace Neutral specializes in 100% hand poke tattoos and is an absolute master of the art form. Her tattoo and piercing shop is the perfect place to go to for some of the most original tattoo work you’re likely to see anywhere in the world. Plus, it’s just a twenty-minute Uber ride from Word on the Water so you can support two of London’s independents in one day.
Unfortunately, tattoo studios are still closed at the moment but Grace has got you covered with some beautifully designed lighters that you can buy right now.
If you need a bit more inspiration then check out our list of some of our favourite female tattoo artists.
Of our small snapshot of London’s independents, the most beautiful creations come from Crease. Crease is a sustainable and ethical fashion brand started by Creative Directors Kate and Rosemary. Their stunning pieces have graced the pages of Dazed, ID, and Vogue.
The team at Nonchalant is obsessed with their sheer scalloped briefs (yes they’re as cool as they sound) and iconic, embroidered bralette.
What sets Crease apart isn’t just their timeless imagination but their commitment to sustainability. All of the materials they use are naturally made, they recycle fabric offcuts into one-off pieces, and only use sustainably sourced packaging. To reduce waste, their collections are always made to order using the finest silk and some shit-hot embroidery work. Considering the fashion industry is one of the worst contributors to carbon emissions, Crease’s eco pledge is an admirable step in the right direction. Plus, that bralette is really fucking hot.
If you get the train to London Bridge, rather than turning right and heading to Borough Market, turn left instead. Less than five minutes walk will bring you to Bermondsey Street which is, we kid you not, a fucking haven for London’s independents (plus a Franco Manca).
Grab a coffee at Fuckoffee, eat the best brunch of your life at The Garrison (when you can) or head to The Hide for some bevies. Trust us, you can go from breakfast all the way to late-night cocktails on Bermondsey street.
Don’t fret, we know everyone is still planning more nights in than days out. While you’re waiting for April 12th you can hit up the Giddy Grocer to buy all the essentials (like wine, cheese, and bread) for a delicious night in. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might get a quick hello with the resident retriever.
Renegade Urban Winery
With climate change driving UK temperatures up, the south of England is fast becoming prime real estate for winegrowers. When you pair that with our proximity to well-established wine-growing regions in Germany or France it was only a matter of time until London got in on the act.
Just next to Bethnal Green station you’ll find a business doing just that. Renegade Urban Winery is one of four urban wineries in London and the only one based in the East End of the city. Since 2016 it’s been sourcing grapes from Sussex to Puglia and making some delicious tipples on the streets of the Big Smoke.
With outdoor seating available, here’s hoping that some boozy afternoons with the best wine and the rumbling of underground trains will be on the cards very soon.
The Cheese Bar makes our list of London’s independents because it’s a company with a noble cause: championing British cheese and cheesemakers. They run the only fully cheese-focused restaurants in London. Their flagship is in Camden Market and they’ve got a cheese barge (yeah we love a barge). The jewel in their crown is their self-proclaimed conveyor belt of cheese dreams in Covent Garden.
Their latest venture is Funk. A cheese shop on Colombia Road specializing in British cheese, small producer & natural wine, craft beer, and cider. If you can’t make it to Funk anytime soon but you’re in the local area, you can order from them online. Who doesn’t want a ‘fondue-it yourself’ kit delivered to your door?
Flight Case Bars
We don’t know about you guys but we’ve really been missing the pub. You can buy as much booze in as you like but there’s nothing quite like that perfectly poured pint.
Until the pubs reopen you can rely on the team at Flight Case Bars to bring the pub to you. Flight Case Bars have two offerings: Alfred The Guinness Bar and Henry The Hop House Bar, which has Jägermeister thrown in for good measure. Whether you fancy some stout or lager, you’ll be getting top-quality draught beer delivered right to your door.
Did someone say coffee? Europe’s cafe culture has well and truly taken hold on the streets of London. Walk a mile in any direction and you’ll pass a Pret and a coffee shop…and we fucking love it.
It isn’t long now until Oxford Street is going to be teeming with shoppers again. If you’re planning to be one of them then you’re in luck. Just five minutes walk from Oxford Circus is a star on our list of London’s independents: Kaffeine. It’s been a stalwart of Fitzrovia for the past 11 years. Hands down the best coffee in the city, Kaffeine is a little haven away from the hectic streets of central London. We’ve been dreaming about getting our hands on some of their delicious toasted (and buttered) banana bread for some time now.
The Lexi Cinema
The Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise is a pretty incredible place. For one, it’s not just a cinema. It’s the UK’s first social enterprise independent boutique digital cinema. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life for their community in North West London as well as a community in a very different part of the world. Staffed entirely by volunteers, it donates 100% of its profits to The Sustainability Institute in South Africa.
In normal times, The Lexi provides a gateway to the arts with links to the National Theatre and the Met Opera in New York. Even though their doors remain closed, the good people at The Lexi are promoting the arts as best they can. On their site, you’ll find film recommendations, like the mind-blowing Dreams Of A Life, all available via free streaming services.
In anticipation of the day when we can go out for dinner again, we have to talk about Lupins!
Opened in 2017 by chefs Lucy Pedder and Natasha Cooke, Lupins is a British restaurant with a Mediterranean sensibility. Their menu is full of delicious (trust us) small plates designed for sharing. If the sound of an apple and custard doughnut with juniper and cinnamon sugar doesn’t get you going then, I’m sorry, but we can’t help you.
Keep an eye on their Instagram as we’re pretty sure they’ll be booked up again in no time.
This small sample of London’s independents barely scratches the surface of all the incredible businesses working hard to keep their doors open in the city. It’s more important than ever for us to get out and support our local businesses if we can. We don’t know about you but, lockdown permitting, we’re excited to get out there, buy some books, drink some coffee and shove our face in some fondue.
Love Team Nonchalant x