A guide to Petticoat Lane Market in London

Address: Middlesex Street, London, E1 7JF

Opening times: Monday to Friday 10:00 – 14:30; Sunday: 09:00 – 14:00

Traders have been selling high-end fashion wear at Petticoat Lane Market in the East End of the capital for several hundred years. The market has its origins in the 17th century, a time when London was afflicted by the Black Death and the Great Fire. In the new London that sprung up after 1666, this part of the city established itself as a busy centre for commerce – although not one that was regulated by the authorities. There was an old saying that “your Petticoat could be stolen at one end of the market and then sold back to you at the other”.

Today Petticoat Lane Market is seen as being somewhere to come and purchase fashion garments of all kinds, from designer gear, to vintage items, to trendy streetwear. Fortunately, it has a somewhat better reputation than in centuries past, and is seen as being a high-quality destination for luxury and niche shopping. The connection with clothing and fashion dates back to the mid-18th century, when city traders started buying garments from merchants in the area. The popularity of the market grew and it developed a worldwide reputation for quality, value and choice.

Where to shop at Petticoat Lane Market

With more than a thousand stalls to choose from on a busy day, shoppers have an enormous range of choice. This is one of the reasons the market is become so well known, not just in Britain but also around the world.

The market is centred around two streets in London’s East End, with the majority of the stalls being found in the Tower Hamlets borough, but some lying within the city borders. Stalls can be found on Wentworth Street six days a week, with the main fashion market on Middlesex Street open only on a Sunday. Rather confusingly, the name Petticoat Lane disappeared from the maps in the Victorian era.

It isn’t just fashion items you can buy at Petticoat Lane Market. One of the other key specialities is leather ware from Aldgate East, while there are also plenty of bric-a-brac and household goods items on sale. Many of the stalls at the market offer high-end goods, discounted to more affordable prices than would usually be seen on the high street. Naturally, this helps to explain the popularity of the market with shoppers.

A certain Alan Sugar of BBC1’s ‘The Apprentice’ fame started out his long and successful business career Petticoat Lane Market. Before going on to experience major success in consumer technologies with Amstrad, the entrepreneur was a stallholder at the market.

Other shopping opportunities nearby

Petticoat Lane Market is just one of a number of busy commerce centres in East London. The famous Old Spitalfields market – which has a number of themed days throughout the week – is only a stone’s throw away, and may be somewhere to seek refuge when the weather isn’t working in your favour.

The colourful Shoreditch High Street, Brick Lane and Whitechapel Road are also only a short distance away on foot, so it’s more than feasible to spend a whole day shopping in this part of the city. It’s also possible to combine a trip to the shops with one of the local tourist attractions, such as the Tower of London, London Bridge or the Barbican.

Getting to Petticoat Lane Market

If you are planning to head to Petticoat Lane Market, arguably the easiest way to arrive is by taking the London Underground. Three stations lie in close proximity to the market:

  • Aldgate East tube station: 3-minute walk
  • Aldgate tube station: 3-minute walk
  • Liverpool Street Station: 6-minute walk, with connections to mainline services

As an alternative, a number of local bus services operate in the area, with stops positioned on Aldgate, Bishopgate and Whitechapel’s respective high streets. Parking restrictions are in force throughout the week in and around Petticoat Lane Market, meaning visitors may prefer to use public transport than bring their own vehicle.

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