The Lanes, a (discerning) shopper’s paradise!
Those who have the shopping bug (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), will feel entirely at home strolling through “The Lanes,” Brighton’s answer to an open-air mall. But don’t let that description scare you away. Part of the original settlement of Brighthelmstone, The Lanes are, in essence, an assemblage of higgledy-piggledy avenues located between North Street and Bartholomew Square, Ship Street to the west and Market Street to the east.
Developed prior to Prince George’s arrival, and the construction of his grandiose Royal Pavilion (see “sights”), the narrow street plan’s twittens and catcreeps aren’t all that’s left from the late 1700s. These days, expect to find unique boutiques housed inside former fishing cottages and other Regency-era public houses. If you’re in the market for rare artisan finds, funky-chunky jewelry and vintage threads, or even homespun housewares to suit your personal “Zen Den,” we recommend checking out some of the following stop-offs.
Pussy Home Boutique: Don’t let the name fool you. The proprietors of this colorful outfit are just playing with you. And after scooping up some of the zany goodies found here, we bet you’ll be doing some playing of your own.
Chock full of kitschy, yet useful housewares, Pussy Home Boutique is one of those places that offers gifts for those who you think already have everything. But chances are, they don’t have, for example, a light-up bedside table lamp shaped like a house that perfectly rests your book as the “roof” between reads! Prices run the gamut from reasonable (tins of “Emergency Googly Eyes” and toy sets of “Easter Island Heads”) to pricey (posh light fixtures shaped in the form of everyone’s favorite international pop icon rabbit, Miffy), so feel free to shop for others as well as yourself!
Be on the lookout for Brighton exclusives to lines such as Tatty Devine jewelry (we like the “foxy” cuff links and moustache rings), Nano-block and Moomins! We think your friends back home will just love the knit doll set. You might also guess from the name that cats might have something to do with this boutique. And you’re right. Plush dolls and mugs featuring kitties compliment others showcasing dogs, owls and the like. Don’t miss this one!
Pussy Home Boutique - 3A Kensington Gardens, Brighton, East Sussex BN1
4AL, (011) 44 01273-604861, http://www.pussyhomeboutique.co.uk/shop/
Alice Dreams: Curiouser and Curios... Yes, that’s the theme here at Alice Dreams, perhaps the most complete shopping experience any fan of the classic Lewis Carroll fantasy will ever have! Crammed to the gills with so many unique artsy pieces, Alice Dreams recently expanded to a second location in Brighton. Those words alone should be enough to attract any die-hards to the town infamous “Lanes!”
But even if you’re not as devoted to the White Rabbit or Mad Hatter as some, we still suggest stopping here. Just take one step inside this colorful spot - easily in competition with Wonderland itself - and we promise you’ll be taken far away from the cares of your own “Golden Afternoon.” From wrapping paper to jigsaw puzzles, shot glasses to T-shirts, there’s simply something for everyone, and at all price ranges. The proprietors of Alice Dreams pride themselves at sourcing only the most unique and high quality items around. We’re simply mad for the Cheshire Cat wooden wall clock, and believe the eco-friendly canvas bags with featuring Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations will be a hit with those hipster fashionistas back home!
Set of Drifters tip: Hove portrait artist Sara Abbot painted Alice Dreams’ fantastic interior murals, and we imagine any die-hards paying a visit will want to commission her for personal replications back in their own rabbit holes.)
Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Head on down North Street for more great shopping courtesy of names you’ve probably already heard of. Bootse Pharmacy, American Apparel and The Body Shop all have outposts here.
Fan of vintage threads? So are we... but if you’re already as adroit at thrifting as we are, then you know not all second-hand sellers stack up the same! Take our word for it though, if you’re in Brighton, there’s no better place to spend your time (or money) than at the aptly-named Beyond Retro.
Part of a larger chain that holds further court throughout London, Beyond Retro is so overflowing with belts, bags and baubles, you just may need to buy a groovy “new” 1970s suitcase in order to haul it all home! Wearing other people's old stuff give you the creeps? Have no fear. The shop also sells brand new stand-by's like braces, bow-ties and top hats. And the best part, Beyond Retro is organized, and styled, in such a way that it’s almost like visiting your favorite museum of sartorial kitsch.
The proprietors and associates here really know their stuff, and categorize duds based off of recent runway trends! This means that even the most style-challenged should have no trouble putting together the perfect outfit for that next same-sex wedding ceremony!
We were especially fond of Beyond Retro’s “haberdashery” of vintage fez caps, though if that’s not your thing, just wait until you set your eyes on their heaps and heaps of petticoats, playsuits and prom dresses! Set of Drifters tip: Check out Beyond Retro’s website for just a sampling of their vintage Olympics picks! After all, your summer 2012 wardrobe is not going to build itself!
Beyond Retro - 42 Vine Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4AG, (011) 44 01273-671937