Hackney, a cluster of buzzy East London districts that include Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston in an area about 7.4 square miles in size, has harnessed both its multicultural demographic to emerge as a magnet for progressive shops, trendy restaurants and boutique hotels — as well as youthful cool-hunters in pursuit of it all.
Known for its diversity — immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe live alongside those from Africa, Asia and the Middle East — and as a manufacturing hub specializing in furniture, fashion and textiles, the area has undergone a slow but steady revitalization. What two decades ago was a sketchy, downtrodden area where individualist designers, notably the late Alexander McQueen, lived and worked out of basement studios has evolved into a gentrified melting pot where Georgian and Victorian terraced houses have been redeveloped, old warehouses converted to offices and new apartments built.
Young people are Hackeny’s lifeblood: Of its population of about 257,400, 46 percent are under the age of 29 while just 14 percent are 55 or older, according to the district’s local governing body, the Hackney Council. The area has attracted artists, designers, tech innovators and musicians — including a fair number of fashion personalities: Jonathan Anderson, Christopher Kane, Gareth Pugh, Peter Pilotto, Markus Lupfer, Ryan Lo, Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll, Marques’Almeida, and House of Holland have ateliers or homes here.
What’s in Store
LN-CC: Tucked away in a former warehouse on Shackwell Lane in Dalston and accessed through an unmarked door, LN-CC, which stands for Late Night Chameleon Café, is a fashion hot spot founded in 2010 by former Harrods and Selfridges buyer John Skelton and four others, and now part of Milan-based e-commerce specialist The Level Group. With a futuristic tunnel interior by set designer and illustrator Gary Card, the appointment-only concept store spans three rooms and, in addition to its inventory of established and emerging designers, including Valentino, Rick Owens, J.W. Anderson, Anne Sofie Madsen and Bobby Kolade, also has a book and record shop, a private-event space and a photo studio. ln-cc.com
BOXPARK SHOREDITCH: This pop-up mall with shops made of shipping containers was created by entrepreneur Roger Wade and offers retailers, both emerging and established, an inventive way to sell their wares. Those on board include Fresh Laces, Smashbox and Bed Head. boxpark.co.uk
ARTWORDS BOOKSHOP: Located on Rivington Street in the artist-inherited area of Hoxton, Art-words carries a curated inventory of international fashion, photography, art, architecture and graphic design books alongside industry and creative magazines. artwords.co.uk
The Design Scene
Creativity and innovation reign. Model scouts, trend forecasting agencies and street-style photographers scour Brick Lane — known for its weekend market, curry houses and art galleries — for inspiration and glimpses of the eclectic sartorial tastes of Hackney inhabitants.
Jonathan Anderson settled in the area in 2010. “What I love about Hackney is that it feels like a village and it’s not so built up,” he said. “There’s a good community feel. I really like the Stoke Newington area. There is Clissold Park and amazing restaurants and bookshops on Church Street. Places like Donlon Books on Broadway Market are extremely interesting, and you have LN-CC.”
House of Holland designer Henry Holland works near London Fields and lives in Victoria Park Village, a small community just north of the park. “Victoria Park is my favorite place in Hackney,” he said. “I spend much of my weekends in there with my dog, either eating at the Pavilion Café or running around the perimeter or having a picnic. It’s the most beautiful open space in London and has pretty much everything you would want from an outdoor space.”
Markus Lupfer has lived in Hackney for more than a decade. “I’ve always felt East London is the most inspiring place to be, and where great and exciting things happen,” he said. “Hackney, in particular, is a melting pot of creative energy — full of artists, musicians, designers, architects — which is the greatest inspiration in itself. It never gets old. It constantly changes and there is always something new to see and be inspired by.”
Among the latest additions: Amazon Fashion’s new multimillion-dollar photography studio in a former glassworks and train-repair site on Geffrye Street in Shoreditch. “The opening of our new fashion studio, in the heart of one of the leading fashion capitals of the world, illustrates our ambitions,” said Sergio Bucher, vice president of Amazon Fashion EU.
SHOREDITCH HOUSE: Part of the Soho Group portfolio, this members-only club on Ebor Street is an East London social mecca. The converted warehouse has a rooftop pool with city views, meeting rooms, lounge areas and a gym, as well as an Italian-American restaurant and a backyard BBQ area. shoreditchhouse.com
THE HOXTON HOTEL: Dub- bing itself “the antihotel” when it opened in 2006 (no expensive minibars or high-priced Wi-Fi), this property on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch offers a curated program of events for the arty set. Guests can sink into red leather booths at a diner-style restaurant and people-watch while sipping cheeky cocktails such as Porn Star martinis. thehoxton.com
ACE HOTEL: This London location is the U.S.-based boutique hotel chain’s first European outpost. The Ace stands on the site of the original Shoreditch Empire music hall and offers amenities that include bikes on loan from Tokyo Bike; 24-hour room service by Hoi Polloi, a modernist brasserie owned by Pablo Flack and David Waddington, and custom quilts by APC. All rooms feature original work by local artists. acehotel.com
THE BOOK CLUB: Don’t let the name fool you. This popular establishment on Leonard Street offers an all-day menu, ping-pong tables and a packed calendar of events that includes dance-alongs, video game nights and music and poetry sessions. Customers can order quirky cocktails named “Don’t Go to Dalston” and check out emerging artists in the space. wearetbc.com
SHOREDITCH GRIND: Locals in search of a day- time caffeine fix head to this circular-shaped coffee shop on Old Street with its high ceilings, whitewashed brick walls and views of the Silicon Roundabout. At night, it’s an espresso bar with coffee-based cocktails, including the Espresso Martini. shoreditchgrind.com
THE RICHMOND: This restaurant and bar on Queensbridge Road, opened a few months ago by chef Brett Redman and stylist Margaret Crow, specializes in raw seafood such as tartares and carpaccios, alongside oysters sourced from Essex, Scotland and Northumberland. Fashion patrons include Erdem, Jonathan Saunders and Christopher Kane.
“I live a block away, so I walk here,” Kane said. “It’s such a great place to come, obviously for amazing drinks, such a great atmosphere.” The designer, noting East London’s dearth of good gay bars, added, “All the places closed down and The Richmond became it.” Kane also said he appreciates the welcoming ambience. “I think what they’ve done with it is so nice — it’s like an updated version of J. Sheekey [the fish and seafood restaurant in Covent Garden]. The people who work here are so nice and friendly, they make you at ease.” therichmondhackney.com
HIX AT THE TRAMSHED: If Damien Hirst’s cow-and-chicken-in-form- aldehyde installation suspended over the dining room doesn’t fascinate you, the roast chicken — served with its feet on — certainly will. Formerly an electricity generating station for trams, Mark Hix’s casual establishment on Rivington Street serves up hearty dishes in generous portions perfect for sharing. chickenandsteak.co.uk
RIVINGTON GRILL SHOREDITCH: Owned by Caprice Holdings, the group that operates The Ivy and J. Sheekey, this gastropub on Riving- ton Street offers fresh seasonal British fare including fish and chips and roast suckling pig. A light sculpture by Tracey Emin installed on the dining room wall adds a dash of East London cool. rivingtongrill.co.uk
BROADWAY MARKET AND BRICK LANE MARKET: During the weekends, these two markets are the places to stroll for selections of organic foods, international cuisine, vintage fare, artwork, fresh flowers and local artisanal offerings. broadwaymarket.co.uk and bricklanemarket.com
THE GEFFRYE MUSEUM: Named after Sir Robert Geffrye, a former mayor of London and run as an independent charitable trust, this free museum on Kingsland Road showcases domestic interiors in 11 period rooms ranging from the 1600s to present day. geffrye-museum. org.uk