Panic in the streets of London! In late January the pound hit a seven-year low against the dollar, falling to $1.3860; a few months ago, British schoolchildren were using dollar bills as tissues. And while we Yanks aren't exactly doing Scrooge McDuck swan dives, it's nice to know the global playing field is a little bit more level.
So…are you thinking what we're thinking? British online shopping spree! Now that we get a little more bang for our buck, it's a great time to scoop up hard-to-find designs from web boutiques across the pond. Check out this cheat sheet for sites that offer worldwide shipping, brilliant buys, and a chance to help kick-start our tea-sipping ally's economy.
Kabiri—We're suckers for shiny things, and this boutique's savvy assortment of big-name baubles and up-and-coming finds can make for some compulsive ogling. Look for Refinery faves Sabrina Dehoff, Arielle De Pinto, and Philip Crangi alongside UK-based jewelry designers like Zoe Catherine Kendall, Fiona Paxton, and Smut Lane.
Best Buys: Jonathan Saunders has partnered with Swarovski to create the simple but stunning Obi Ring (?175/$253), while those looking for fresh talent should make a beeline for Most Common Most Rare's geometric patterned pieces (starting at ?58/$84).
Far Fetch—With a British roster that includes Beyond the Valley, Feathers, S***R, Souvenir, B Store, and No-One, this global shopping hub is a goldmine of cutting-edge fashion. You can snag 3.1 Phillip Lim and Givenchy stateside, but Glitter and Twisted's kitschy acrylic brooches, sculptural lace-up booties from B Store and Marcello Toshi, Mine's monochromatic fabric necklaces, and gold clutches from Josey Wales deserve to be imported.
Amélie Boutique—French name, British origins. Anglophiles and Francophiles converge at this well-edited web shop devoted to clothes that deliver that certain je ne sais quoi. That includes Opening Ceremony, Emma Cook, and F-Troupe, plus new favorites like Nom*D, Hannah Marshall, and Tata Naka.
Project Showroom No.5—Central Saint Martins alums James Woolfin and Yvette White are nothing if not consistent. The duo's Inside Out label has made monochromatic trompe d'oeil its signature, and the effortlessly cool distressed duds for men and women are now available online, complete with a handy currency converter.
Goodhood—This quirky little e-shop sports a fantastic mix of eclectic fashions, books, and assorted lifestyle accessories. The downside is that things tend to sell out before you've even had the chance to reach for your mouse. The lesson: If you see something good—maybe a Hyde SK backpack, Bernhard Willhelm leggings, or a book on Japanese music packaging—snatch it up before someone else does.
Brittique—The online hot spot for top British designers, both established and new. Feast your eyes on high-end wares from Camilla Staerk, Emma Cook, Louise Amstrup, Preen, H Chalayan, Tofu, Lou Lou & Law, and more.
Nina & Lola —This London-based retailer specializes in independent and vintage fashion, culminating in a nicely curated stash. Look for vintage wares dating back to the '20s, plus new stuff from Bespoken, Lala Berlin, Afshin Feiz, and Irwin & Jordan.
Best Buys: Fiona Paxton's scarf-like beaded necklaces are a must (?120/$173 and up), and scoring one of Violet May's black or white faux snakeskin leather laptop sleeves (?210/$304) could be a life-changing experience.
Atelier-Mayer—Inspired by Austrian haute couture tailor Klaudia Mayer, this new vintage e-shop dazzles with its nicely organized selection of retro treasures from the likes of Chanel, Dior, Courreges, Ossie Clark, Lanvin, Moschino, and Mary Quant. Special props for including style sheets—which detail each item's pedigree and condition—and a bespoke virtual dressing room for shoppers can input their measurements.
Best Buys: Though we'd trade our first-born for the '20s-era Lanvin Velvet Smoking Coat, the original 1960s Burberry trench (?115/$166) is a much better deal. Philippe Audibert's 1970s gold disc-strewn Super Cuff (?172.50/$249) is way too pretty to pass up.