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  • Jane Egginton

Luxury for Less: London’s Finest Designer Outlets

Some of Britain’s and the world’s most iconic luxury brands can be found in discount fashion outlets in London itself or just an hour away. Many of them are tourist destinations in their own right; magnets for shoppers on the hunt for designer bargains who flock here to save money on superlative brands, whilst having a pleasurable, 21st century shopping experience.

Bicester Village, an hour from London by train, combines the coolest creations from Britain’s young designers with some of the world’s biggest, big-name brands. Here, visitors can have a VIP shopping experience. Jump on the Shopping Express, a luxury coach service from central London (or really splash out on a chauffeur-driven car) tuck into a two-course meal and enjoy a three-hour personal style consultation for as little as £188.

The prettily designed ‘village’ is made up of 130 boutiques. The brands here reads like a roll call of the greatest designers on the planet. The best of British designer brands are all here: Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Mulberry and Alexander McQueen. Exquisite offerings from European icons like Yves Saint Laurent, Prada and Dior sit alongside stand out designs from international heavyweights, such as Hugo Boss, Versace and Diane von Furstenberg.

Bicester prides itself on offering a Bond Street experience without the snootiness. Personal service and product knowledge are key, from the sales assistants to the personal shopping service. This is not your typical outlet experience; but a Disney version – well kept, friendly, accessible and with the emphasis on enjoyment.

Beautiful British design is found at Ashford Designer Outlet inside the shops but also in the building itself. Lord Richard Rogers, one of Britain’s best-loved architects, based the design of the inspirational

oval shaped centre on the Millennium Dome. Visitors are whizzed to the shopping mall in Kent, the ‘Garden of England’, on high-speed trains, taking just 30 minutes from central London.

Underneath the enormous tented roof, 80 boutiques house the classic British designs of Fred Perry, Reiss and Ted Baker alongside American sportswear favourites such as Nike and Tommy Hilfiger, with Marks and Spencer adding a taste of the British high street. Opened at the beginning of the Millennium, Ashford Designer Outlet boasts facilities for children and free personal style advisors.

In the heart of central London, in the exclusive neighbourhoods of Chelsea and Mayfair, DSUK Designer Sales has been holding its sample sales since the 1980s. Well-heeled bargain hunters rifle through the racks of vintage and designer fashions, both international and homegrown. VIP tickets fast track you into sample sales and give you a glass of champagne and goodie bag worth £75.

Designer Warehouse Sales take place over three full days in Islington, North London. Customers can pick up catwalk one-offs, showroom samples and cancelled orders from the current season’s collections. Rails packed with pieces from over 180 designers pull in both eager fashionistas and experienced fashion editors.

In Wembley, West London, 30 minutes from the West End, London Designer Outlet is currently in development. It will host British retail stalwarts such as Clarks and Marks and Spencer alongside American high street brands Nike and Gap.

Hackney Walk, way over on the other side of the city, in London’s East End, is a discount outlet that includes luxury Scottish knitwear label, Pringle, whose sublime cashmere is a favourite of the British Royal Family. Opposite, Aquascutum, a classic of quality British tailoring since the 1850s, sells its elegant jackets, coats and suits at a fraction of the regular retail price. This is the site of a hugely ambitious £100-million luxury fashion district that is set to rival the incredible success of Bicester Village, which attracts a staggering 5.5 million visitors a year.

When it comes to getting the best designer fashion in London for less:

· Take your time: make a day of it and enjoy yourself.

· Be focused: check out brands listed on the outlet’s website.

· Go VIP: get a five-star shopping experience for further discounts, champagne and a shopping collection service.

· Hire a consultant: they can save you stress, time and money.

Bicester Village

50 Pingle DriveBicesterOxfordshireOX26 6WD

Ashford Designer Outlet

Kimberly Way, Ashford, Kent TN24 OSD

DSUK Designer Sales

Designer Warehouse Sales

5 | 6 Islington Studios, Thane Works, Thane Villas, London N7 7NU

London Designer Outlet

Hackney Walk


86 Morning Lane, E9 6NA


Chatham Place, E9 6LY

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