My sister doesn’t know she is born. I love this phrase, meaning she doesn’t know how lucky she is living five minutes walk from Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street, great boutiques and a wonderful market. It’s often the case that a lot of Londoners are too busy to appreciate the amazing variety of stuff going on from week to week. I’m lucky to be able to go there quite often and explore East London piece by piece, forever discovering new quirky places and great street art. I like the effort shop owners go to and their creative ideas – just something small like a glass of pink lemonade on hot day while you’re browsing (thanks – Swedish Hasbeens)! I like how you can find a book from the 60s on Chanel at the market alongside a Snoop Dogg doll! I love the diversity and the buzz of the market, and the amazing streetfood.
I also really like the Boxpark Pop-Up Mall (apparently the worlds first), comprising of shipping containers assembled in a box like structure (obviously) with a diverse range of wares all within metres of each other. Opened in 2011 (it’s meant to close next year) it’s definitely one of the most unique shopping experiences I’ve ever had. I like the mix of independent galleries, cafes, fashion and lifestyle brands and the fact you can bomb around the whole thing in under twenty minutes (if you’re super speedy).
The big brands involved are Nike, who boast two stores (Nike Running on Ground – devoted to all things running and Digital Sport Products and Nike Sportwear on First – which has more street products like the hi-tops). There’s even a free Nike running club every Monday and Saturday for those who want to strut their stuff in the streets in their new clobber.
I checked out Puma yesterday and they have some really great multi-coloured sneaks for £50. There’s even a tiny STA travel, equipped with Ipads to help you decide on your next trip. Urbanears has all the latest stylish headphones (saw some great multi-coloured ones that I had to resist until my next trip). You can even get your business cards for your next venture sorted out at the Moo.com pop up shop, and your website designed at Moonfruit. Hanging around for your other half while they shop? Pop into the Xbox store for some gaming while you wait.
Other up and coming brands include Swedish Hasbeens, which has cool wooden sandals inspired by historical figures (or Hasbeens, if you will). The latest collection is inspired by 18th century figures such as Voltaire and Marie Antoinette. I especially liked the ice cream pastel shades which would look great with some colour block socks. The fantastically named Bitching and Junk Food taps into the punk trend – let’s just say their fearless pieces are worn by Rita Ora and Rihanna and that gives you a clue as to their gear.
Wandering Minds curates edgy labels from the coolest places cities around right now – Berlin, Sydney, Copenhagen, Seoul and Tokyo, offering everyday style with great attention to detail. Lovers of quirky yet affordable art will love Tusch und Egon (an anagram of the German for beautiful and good) which stocks paintings, sculptures and design pieces. Sat on your specs? Head to Playn eyewear. Their frames, made in Bangkok are stylish and environmentally friendly.
If you need some fuel while you’re maxing out your credit card – it’s all here. Guardian Coffee with its great blends provided by Nude Espresso and Ipads, attracts the tech crowd and often has live bands playing outside which is great in the summer. Chop’d is a salad stalwart which has offered healthy and delicious food since Boxpark opened. In need of a holiday? Cotton’s Rhum Shack brings a taste of the Caribbean with 250 types of rum, killer cocktails and steel drums.I love hanging out here in the summer and scoffing their jerk chicken (when I’m not vegetarian). Thai and Lao Streetfood is also particularly tasty for a quick fix.
If that all isn’t enough, there are regular events as diverse as Xbox tournaments, Acoustic Afternoons, Pop Up Ping Pong, DJ Marathons and Live Art, as well as the odd curveball such as Taxidermy workshops! One things for sure, you’ll never feel boxed in…