Two of the UK’s most historical luxury stores are not as far away as one may think…

It has been almost two centuries to the year since Benjamin Harvey opened the doors to his linen shop on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street, little did he know that in 200 years his store would not only be the talk of London, but would be recognised internationally as one of the finest examples of luxury retailing in the world. The Harvey Nichols Empire started it’s humble beginnings in England’s capital, but has since been developed as a global brand launching stores across the UK, Ireland, China, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

I am fortunate enough to have been exposed to the fabulous world of Harvey Nichols from a young age. In 2002, I was delighted to see Edinburgh become home to Scotland’s only branch of Harvey Nichols. 10 years ago I remember being mesmerised by iconic international brands such as Prada, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. However, nowadays I head straight for the escalator, up to the third floor to indulge in new favourites: Wildfox, We Are Handsome, Acne, Carven, Rag and Bone, J Brand and American Retro to name a few. On this floor garment displays are interspersed with vibrant lifestyle products, candles, quirky jewellery and enough coffee table books to put the ultimate fashionista to shame. It is here that the young and fabulous of Edinburgh flock on a daily basis and where everyday style icons are born. The range of clothing on the third floor has expanded in recent years, with more edgy, current labels appearing along side the classics; sequined Markus Lupfer sweaters are paired up with cut-out jersey-crepe dresses by T by Alexander Wang (personal favourites) whilst the innovative creations by Acne hang adjacent to the iconic Balenciaga.

It’s not just the clothing department that’s had an injection of youth. Imagine my delight to see the Jeffrey Campbell ‘Lita’ boots displayed beautifully on top of a glass podium in the ladies shoe boutique. A brand that has taken American stylists and bloggers by storm is finally available from a Scottish retailer! The Jeffrey Campbell collection at Harvey Nichols has something for everyone, ranging from some truly amazing brogue-style cut-out wedges, to the indispensable Brit boots (I don’t know where I would be without these wonders in the Scottish spring) and animal print loafers.

Cosying up with the Jeffrey Campbell’s are another American import: Sam Edelman, which comprises of extremely wearable (and affordable) flats as well as the most fantastic take on a studded, bejewelled heel that I have ever seen. However, I barely have time to examine these before my eyes are drawn to a St Andrews classic: the Hunter Wellington boot, but these are more than just your average green rubber boot, they are a kaleidoscope of neon pink, yellow and green, all perfect for those spring and summer days spent sipping Pimms on the lawn.

 

New designers, as well as cult classics, have appeared in the accessories department too. As I stroll through the handbag department, I am grabbed by neon bags from The Cambridge Satchel Company (perfect to go with those Hunter wellies), Marc by Marc Jacobs beach bags and Michael Kors staples. Moving onto the treasure trove that is the jewellery bar I find vintage Chanel chains, this seasons ‘must-have’ gold rings from Yves Saint Laurent and a host of eccentric creations by Vivienne Westwood.

Harvey Nichols Edinburgh have developed a range of brands that are definitely aimed at a younger generation, whilst remaining accessible to their existing client base. Through this recent shift in designer focus, Harvey Nichols has become the one-stop shop for all those wishing to invest a little more in their wardrobes, without breaking the bank. The sales team are always friendly and willing to help with your fashion needs, but when you do want that little something extra the Personal Styling Team are there to help. I know that many people our age are intimidated by the thought of personal shopping and assume it is only for those willing to spend vast amounts of money, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you are looking for something to wear at May Ball or just seeking those perfect skinny jeans, the Personal Styling Team are always there to assist.

This isn’t to say that Harvey Nichols is the only iconic store to emerge from a rich historical background in Scotland’s capitol. Along George Street, only a 10-minute walk from the Harvey Nichols doors stands another testament to luxury and style. Hamilton and Inches opened in 1866 in the 3 floor Edwardian building it still resides in today. It is so wonderful to know that on the floors about the immaculate displays of jewels and watches, the silver workshops, which hold a Royal Warrant as silversmiths to HM The Queen, are still in very much in use. Indeed Hamilton and Inches is one of the few remaining British jewellers to have such workshops.

As well as the beautiful Hamilton and Inches designs, the store plays host to other internationally renowned names such as Stephen Webster (no stranger to the red carpet) as well as up and coming designers like Kathrine Pelosi, who still studies at Edinburgh College of Art. The collections are quite remarkable, ranging from simple silver pieces perfect for everyday wear to intricate brightly coloured jewels guaranteed to get a few compliments on evenings out.

Edinburgh city centre is home to a vast array of fantastic shops and since it is less than an hour away by train we really have no excuse not to get down there. However, if you don’t get the chance to go soon, St Andrews Union is playing host to a Harvey Nichols and Hamilton & Inches pop-up shop on the 11th of April. Stop by to see some of the new collections, enter their competition to win a really fabulous prize or just get some great style tips from the style team!

 

Tara Atkins 

Images Courtesy Of Harvey Nichols and Hamilton & Inches