• Fri21February 2014
  • Why fashion is looking to Chatham, Hackney, East London

    As London Fashion Week draws to a close for yet another season and the fashion press draw on their talents to forecast the key trends for autumn/winter 2014 (geometrics, royal blue, loads of layers and folklore – just off the top of my head), I’m looking at East London, Hackney, to a street called Chatham Place for the next big thing in London fashion.

    Holly Fulton A/W 2014 (c) catwalking.com

    Holly Fulton A/W 2014 (c) catwalking.com

    For those in the know, this small road that runs almost parallel to the main road in Hackney, where the Hackney Picturehouse can be found, is home to a number of designer outlets, including Burberry, Pringle and Aquascutum. More Bicester Village than TK Maxx, these stores offer a similar shopping experience to their Bond Street counterparts albeit with a little more stock on display. Expect to find discounts of up to a third off Burberry gear in the store housed in an old factory building. Or head next door to pick up a Pringle jumper, while the store opposite has a fantastic selection of Aquascutum classics with up to 30 percent off the full retail price. But these discounted designer boutiques are only a part of the story. It seems that Hackney are looking to regenerate the entire area with a focus on fashion.

    Of course, East London has always had links with the fashion crowd. The former warehouses that once stored tea, coffee and a number of different products are the ideal space to prep a collection, offer reasonable rents (well they did) and so many designers set up their workshops around Hackney, Clapton, Dalston and Stoke Newington.

    Then there’s The Hackney Shop – a pop-up store that offers residency to designers wanting to shift some of their work at discounted prices. From Holly Fulton and James Long to Markus Lupfer and Jean-Pierre Braganza, this tiny store on Morning Lane – head towards the massive Tesco and keep walking up – plays host to many a designer who has shown their collection at London Fashion Week. If you’re lucky, you may actually have the chance to meet them as I did last year when talking to a lovely Scottish lady in the shop about how much I loved Holly Fulton’s prints and embellishments, only to find out that said lady was Holly Fulton!

    More exciting is the news that Hackney Council gave the go-ahead for a Fashion Hub back in October 2013. You can take a look at what they’ve proposed here:

    With promises of apprenticeships and training, jobs, a stitching academy and regeneration for the area, there’s no denying that the aims behind this hub of creativity are far-reaching and surely that is a good thing?  This joint venture between Chatham Works and Manhatten Loft Corporation (who restored St Pancras Hotel) is also being designed by one of Britain’s top architects, David Adjaye. It all sounds so good on paper. Works have already started so it’s a case of wait and see.

    While there’s always the worry about the price of property for local residents, as areas regenerate (just look at Dalston, where as five years ago, a two bed would cost around £300k, expect to pay at least half a million today) another part rejoices in the fact that the Hackney Fashion Hub will focus on design and accessibility for people from different backgrounds. Moreover, it will create jobs and boost the local economy, which is surely a good thing.  Most importantly though, it will support start-up businesses and provide mentoring to those who want to succeed in the fashion industry, meaning that we may well see even more talent emerging from the diverse and cosmopolitan city that is London.

    London Fashion Week has worked hard to become a must-see on the fashion buyers’ calendar. It has, up until now, be seen as the underdog on the fashion weeks’ calendar. With schemes such as Hackney Fashion Hub on the roadmap that support and nurture fashion designers, our capital will finally keep the talent on home grown soil and show the world that London Fashion means business.

    What do you think about the Hackney Fashion Hub? Do you think it’s a good idea for fashion?

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