This week's featured shopping centre


Don't follow the crowd. Spitalfields is an unusual shopping centre and market all rolled into one. You'll find an eclectic selection of independent shops and stalls offering hand-made, contemporary as well as vintage items to suit all pockets. 65 Brushfield Street, London E1 6AA (nearest tube: Liverpool Street). Shops are open seven days a week (opening hours vary). Traders Market is open six days a week (see details below). Spitalfields is also East London's top spot for eating out, with a great choice of award-winning restaurants, including 'Best Family-Friendly Restaurant for Giraffe, 1 Crispin Place, 'Best Breakfast' for Canteen, 2 Crispin Place and 'London Restaurant of the Year' for La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square.

Apart from one or two retail chains, such as White Stuff, most of the shops in Spitalfields are small independents, presenting a dazzling array of pretty clothes, accessories and gifts. Lifestyle boutique Source sells clothing from labels such as Vero Moda, Vila, Snob, St Martins and Selected Femme, as well as unusual items for the home. They offer a lovely selection of jewellery, accessories, books, frames and other gifts at affordable prices, including these cheese forks for the friend who has (almost) everything. 6 Market Street. London E1 6DT.

EightSq has been offering elegant furniture and gifts at Spitalfields since 2005, including attractive vintage furniture from France, hand-embroidered boxes from Nepal, glass from India and porcelain from South Africa. The store also stocks organic babywear. 8 Market Street, London, E1 6DT.

Spitalfields Arts Market is held monthly from March to December (2013 dates still to be announced). It is the ideal place to buy affordable art, including original paintings and photography, direct from established and up and coming artists. Held on nearby Market Street (off Brushfield Street, E1). Spitalfields also offers regular free events, including lunchtime concerts, festivals, tango classes and fashion shows, such as Alternative Fashion Week.

Spitalfields Traders Market is open Monday - Friday 10.00 - 17.00 and Sunday 09.00 - 17.00, with up to 110 stalls on its busiest days. With so many beautiful pieces,often at very reasonable prices, you'll be spoilt for choice. So we recommend walking all round the market first, before returning to buy your favourites.

Printed T-shirts are popular amongst shoppers, with several stalls selling these throughout the week, but the market is especially well known for items made from environmentally friendly materials, such as neck collars from Master Furse and upcycled clothing from Enienay (both Sundays only). Top picks include: Clajs (Sundays), which offers wonderful jewellery, accessories and stationery, made of recycled materials such magazines, maps, clothes and old pieces of fabric. This hand-made Oyster card holder, for example, is only £15 and no two items are exactly alike.

Check out the hand-made hats and feather cuffs from Lulu O'Neill (Fridays and Sundays). This Scottish designer also makes bespoke hats for weddings and special occasions and even offers hat-making classes for groups of six or more people, where you can take away your own headpiece for only £35. Karing Monie (Fridays and Sundays) designs beautiful leather bags, belts and other leather accessories. The designs are all handmade in her London Studio and start at only £20. Karing believes in wasting as little leather as possible, so some of her designs are created specifically to use up the leftover materials.

Leon Parker's stall 'Single Looking for Long Player (Tuesday's and Thursday's) offers a valuable opportunity to buy classic and rare record covers to hang on your wall, vintage record boxes for your old records, as well as original vinyl and CDs. Leon also runs the British Record Shop Archive, which chronicles this fast disappearing genre.