Companies and brands are moving further east in the British capital as the area is being fueled by investments from developers. In East London, which comprises seven boroughs, Hackney is seen as a key area with a number of projects and proposals on the pipeline.
Hackney Walk — launched in September — is the first designer fashion outlet in London and is located on Morning Lane. Brands including e-tailer Matchesfashion.com and Nike have joined Burberry, Bally, Anya Hindmarch and Pringle of Scotland, which were already part of an existing structure. Others who have joined include Ugg, Gieves & Hawkes and Present.
“We have completed the first phase of the development delivering 14 new stores in 12 converted railway arches flanked by two larger units,” said Adam Samuels, managing director at Hackney Walk. “Eleven of these are leased and two more are delivering high-quality, long-term pop-up store concepts with the likes of House of Holland, Holly Fulton and Tamara Salman. The three remaining units in Hackney Walk are in discussion with a number of major high-profile luxury brands to complete the phase. Further phases will be mixed use, including offices, workspace and possibly a limited amount of residential.”
According to Samuels, a “considerable amount of space” in forthcoming phases of the Hackney Walk development will be commercial and designed for the fashion industry. Within this space, 10 percent will be offered at “affordable rates” for emerging brands, including a Fashion Laboratory, a communal workspace and facilities geared to aid local up-and-coming talent.
Future plans also consist of the conversion of railway arches into luxury outlet retail, food and beverage and workspace units that will launch early next year. Christopher Raeburn, Nike and Ashley Williams all have studios in Hackney Walk.
“Morning Lane has always had a great local community, but they were a bit forgotten as other areas of Hackney took the lion’s share of local investment,” said Andrew Sissons, director of strategy at Hackney Walk. “It’s great to see local people talk with pride about the new stores and opportunities that the project is delivering, such as jobs, physical improvements and a greater sense of safety. Many people talk about how they would never go to Morning Lane, but now they regularly visit to shop and explore.”
“The area is transforming at a great pace,” he added. “Especially with the opening of the new phase of arches. Already we’re seeing fashion labels seeking to move to Hackney Walk who are keen to be part of a supportive cluster of businesses and stores. I think the fashion community has seen the environment created by the growth of Tech City up the road in Shoreditch and realized Hackney Walk provides an opportunity to do the same in fashion, enabling collaboration, innovation and greater economic resilience through co-locating.”
Sissons said Hackney Central and Homerton are the only areas in the neighborhood that until recently “had not seen much regeneration and suffered from poor levels of economic activity,” compared to the rest of the borough. “A lot of new housing has been built in the surrounding area but not much business space,” he said. “The development of economic activity alongside housing is critical to building a sustainable community. In our view, the best chance of this happening was to build on Hackney’s fashion heritage of Burberry and the London College of Fashion Mare Street Campus. Many designers stayed in the area after attending LCF and we are seeking to build on this in a positive and supportive way that helps the industry to thrive. Already we are creating many local jobs.”
Raeburn recently moved his studio from Poplar and Limehouse to Burberry’s old textile factory in Hackney. “It’s 2,500 square feet and we’re looking to do retail, showrooms — the full shebang,” he said. “It’s a purpose-built, architect-designed space, but it obviously has real soul. I was interested in the space not just for the history, but also for the wider opportunities — after researching the plans for Hackney Walk and learning of the influx of creative companies to the other commercial units, I was [glad] about the obvious possibilities.
“We’ve been in our studio space for just over four months,” he added. “We’ve been able to do a series of events that have brought people into the space and we’re now building out our plans for upscale production at the Remade studio, alongside film nights, workshops and collaborative events — it’s been really enjoyable and we’ve had such support for our work from other local companies and the community.”
Hackney Walk is planning pop-up concepts and a space for a designer-in-residence. NewGen designer Ashley Williams is the first to participate.
British designer Henry Holland noted that the area “will get better and better in terms of the footfall and the traffic that’s driven there,” and calls it a “hidden gem.” Holland is finalizing plans to move his studio from London Fields to the area by the end of the year. While he would not disclose his rent, he noted that compared to his current rent per square foot, the new space is approximately 25 percent cheaper.
“It’s going to be a real hub for the area,” Holland said. “It’s going to be a mixture of retail. So I think it’s going to be a great area to be based and also give us the opportunity to utilize our own space as a retail proposition from time to time.”