As in the lyrics of the song 'Carnaby street is not what it used to be'. During the 1960s, Carnaby Street became popular with followers of Mod fashion. There is a plaque located at 1 Carnaby Street that is dedicated to the fashion entrepreneur John Stephen, who was supposedly responsible for starting the Mod fashion revolution in the area. In the old days there were a lot of independent fashion boutiques with designers such as Mary Quant and 'Lord John' offering their wares. The trendy could also frequent numerous underground music bars such as the 'Roaring Twenties'. Now you can pop into the glossy Zebrano Bar and order a cocktail. The bar is located on Ganton Street just off Carnaby Street.
In recent years there has been an attempt to develop the area and repair its reputation as the place to go for cutting-edge fashion and all the latest trends. The area has seen a lot of changes especially at the southern end of Carnaby Street, where as well as a number of smart new stores, there is now a short-cut to Kingly Court with three floors of one-off speciality shops set around an open courtyard.
Some might argue that the place has never really managed to recapture the era of the "Swinging 60's" when people congregated in the area to look for trendy boutiques and hang out in independent record shops. Nowadays I would say that there is no special atmosphere about the place and it is more or less just like any other shopping location. There still remains the air of tattiness that developed during the 1980s and there are still too many cheap and untrendy clothes shops and tacky stalls selling touristy gimmicks. The Mod fashions once associated with the area have almost all disappeared, although there is still a Ben Sherman that still retains a certain 'mod' essence. The only thing I ever bought in Carnaby Street was a pair of suede doc martins. The shoes were trendy but the shop, with its windows festooned with plastic Union Jacks, was not.
The pedestrianised streets of Carnaby now have some of the well established names like Muji and Diesel, and many of them are supposed to have items that you can't get at any of the other locations. Although there is great variation depending on where you shop, prices are reasonable when compared to many other areas of London. Oxford Circus is the nearest station to Carnaby, making it quite an easy place to get to in London.
If you feel the need to take refuge from shopping, there are several places to sit down and have a snack or a coffee. Especially recommended is the Indian styled coffee shop called Sacred where you can drink teas and coffee in a comfortable and relaxing environment. Alternatively the more romantically inclined can slurp their espressos at La Trouvaille that offers a French dining experience.