If you’re anything like me, one of the first things you’ll do when you get to a new city is figuring out where the best shopping options are. It’s nice to bring back a gift for a loved one, take home a souvenir or just browse a few shops to see what exciting things are sold in places away from home. But if you don’t do a bit of planning beforehand, you sometimes end up seeing only the same shops you know from home, making for an uninspiring and utterly boring outing.

Lucky for you, Edinburgh boasts a huge variety of amazing independent shops of which I’m about to lay out the cream of the crop for you, so you’ll know which stores to swing by on your next visit.

All photos by the author.

Kestin Hare

Every man of style in Scotland knows Kestin Hare as a premier menswear designer who touts both a minimalistic edge and the use of unique fabrics that are tested thoroughly for wear and tear.

Hare’s story goes way back to his childhood. He was influenced greatly by his grandfather who took great pride in his impeccable style. This led Hare to study Fashion Design and go on to work for several notable names in the industry. When starting his own clothing brand, Kestin Hare found it very important to make sure his clothes were manufactured in the UK. Therefore, most of his collection is made in small factories in Britain, where he is able to maintain a hands-on approach as well as personal relationships with the manufacturers. This allows him to maintain the quality for which his garments are known in the first place.

The shop/design studio is located by the docks in Leith, which constitutes Edinburgh’s creative hub. It’s worth the visit just to look at how beautifully the clothing is displayed in the store. It’s also only a matter of time before this designer becomes known globally so get your hands on his garments while you can!

Find Kestin Hare at Customs Wharf, Edinburgh EH6 6PL
Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 11am – 6.00pm 
Sunday: 11am – 4pm

Biscuit Clothing

Biscuit Clothing excels in catering to modern women looking for something truly inspiring to wear. Here you’ll find hand-picked clothing items that you simply can’t get anywhere else in the city. The shop also stocks a wide collection of products and gifts for the home, so you definitely won’t leave empty-handed. Their slogan is “somewhere to come and buy a pretty top for a Saturday night at a friend’s dinner party and while you are there why not pick up the perfect present for the hostess!”, which sums the shop up perfectly. The staff are very helpful, too. They’ll volunteer style tips and also run “trying on” sessions frequently, where you can pop in to chat about outfits over a glass of bubbly. A perfect way to spend an afternoon, if you ask me.

Find Biscuit Clothing at 132 Bruntsfield Place,
Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm

Tip: Their second location on 22 Thistle Street have the same opening hours.

W. Armstrong & Sons

If you like vintage clothing, look no further. It is one of the oldest vintage clothing stores in the UK, having opened in 1840. They stock the widest and coolest range of vintage clothes, I’ve ever seen, meaning you will easily wind up spending hours in there!
As soon as you walk into the shop you are greeted with floor to ceiling clothes and accessories, tempting to you to venture further into the shop! You can even shop by era – sort through the clothes from the swinging ‘60s, find some gems from the bohemian ‘70s or upgrade your wardrobe with some grungy ‘90s pieces. Due to everything being vintage, their stock changes incredibly frequently so you may even find yourself in this shop more than once. I’ve found some incredibly unique pieces in here that I know will stay with me forever.

Find W. Armstrong & Sons at 81-83 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HJ
Opening hours:
Monday – Thursday: 10am – 5.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 10am – 6.00pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm

Armchair Books

If there is one bookstore that is worth visiting in Edinburgh, it’s Armchair Books. This shop is literally a magical maze of old books. They stock both newer and older works and have a large section dedicated to Scottish history books which are absolutely amazing to leaf through. A word of advice though: don’t come in here looking for a particular book, for you’ll get lost along the way, instead finding other works in dire need of a home. I have popped into this shop empty handed and left with a pile of old books on several occasions. And even if you’re not looking to buy a book, just come in to take a photo – it’s worth it!

Find them at 72-74 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE
Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 6.30pm

Life Story

Life Story is located on Broughton Street along with a bunch of other great independent shops. Still, Life Story has become my very favourite. The shop is owned and run by Susan Doherty, who opened Life Story back in 2014 with the mission to create Edinburgh’s first concept store. Even though the shop is packed with Scandinavian style and influence, with many of the products hand-picked from Danish and Swedish designers, the store also boasts a wide range of items from local Scottish designers. One of my favourites are these lovely dishes made by Studio Emma, which creates homeware out of colourful concrete – something that looks quite unique and is impossible to find elsewhere.

The shop itself is a cross between a design store and a coffee shop, allowing customers to enjoy a cup of joe while browsing the beautiful items. Susan also takes the time to make sure that everything is beautifully displayed – from the jewellery and stationary to homeware and gift items. Trust me, if you pop into the shop you won’t be leaving in less than half an hour and definitely not empty-handed either.

Find them at 53 London St, Edinburgh EH3 6EX
Opening hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 10.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday: 10.30am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm

Curiouser and Curiouser

This store is also located on Broughton Street. I come here mainly to find gifts for friends and family. What always catches my eye though, is their range of artwork (mainly prints) created by local artists. If you’re ever looking to bring back a souvenir that stands out, this is your spot!

Find them at 93 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3RZ
Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm

Bohemia

Bohemia is mostly known for their 100% artisan products made in Morocco, India and Turkey. In particular, their Moroccan woven baskets, blankets and leather goods have gained considerable popularity recently. The brand is all about sustainability and maintaining traditional craftsmanship which is why they keep strong partnerships with the makers of the goods. Alongside their own designs, they also stock a line of beautiful prints, small items for the home, gifts, kids’ books and stationery.

Find them at 17 Roseneath St, Edinburgh EH9 1JH
Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm 

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