LONDON — Hackney, once one of London’s grittier districts, is to be developed into a new 75,000 square foot fashion district called the Hackney Fashion Hub, a joint venture between Manhattan Loft Corporation, the developers behind the restoration of the St Pancras Renaissance hotel, and Chatham Works Limited.


The site currently holds temporary outlet stores including Pringle and Aquascutum.


Wall Street Journal’s Architecture Innovator of the Year David Adjaye is designing the project. Work has already started to convert railway arches in Morning Lane into new retail spaces, also designed by Adjaye Associates, that will sit alongside the development.


Jack Basrawy of Chatham Works said the Hub would be “great news for Hackney’s up-and-coming designers” because it has a philanthropic aspect: A promise has been made to deliver a new “Stitching Academy” and the Hackney Fashion Hub Trust, which will provide support for local designers and manufacturers with training, access to state-of-the-art equipment and apprenticeships for local people.


Caren Downie has been appointed fashion director of the project, adding some heavyweight fashion clout to the development. Downie spent a decade as Topshop’s buying director, during which time she was central to linking the company with London Fashion Week and developing the Newgen program, which has sponsored emerging talents such as Christopher Kane, Roksanda Ilincic, Peter Pilotto and Meadham Kirchoff. Most recently, she was buying director at


Local designers will have access to apprenticeships and training schemes, as well as a subsidized sampling service and manufacturing units designed to support the fashion industry in Hackney. Designers like Christopher Kane, Erdem and Jonathan Anderson have studios nearby.


“Our overall mission is to assist in the delivery of business support services, to provide apprenticeship and employment opportunities, support the local supply chain and enable the fashion industry to grow sustainable businesses,” said Downie.

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