The Hackney Walk project first arose in the aftermath of the 2011 London riots, with Hackney Council being awarded £2 million from the Mayor of London’s post-riot regeneration fund. Roughly three-quarters of this was invested into the project, with the remainder going to revamp existing shop fronts in Hackney Central. Pegged by developers to be fashion’s answer to Hatton Garden, with retailers working alongside manufacturers, the retail side of the complex will offer up to 70 percent discounts on prices paid elsewhere in the city.
Located on Morning Lane, opposite the old Burberry factory, the project aims to reflect Hackney’s heritage in the clothing industry, returning it to its ‘rag trade’ routes, with executive chairman and founder of Hackney Walk, Jack Basrawy, saying, ‘In the 50s, this was the centre of garment-making in London, and this is a 21st century version of what was here before’. Hackney was also the heart and soul of the city’s textile industry in the 19th century, with over 15,000 people employed in clothing factories and workshops by 1901.
The current incarnation of the project is already a major regeneration for the area, but Basrawy’s plans don’t stop here – the next phase of development is already in the pipeline and includes a 450,000-square foot retail and office block and further archway conversions, which would grow Hackney Walk to at least the size of Oxfordshire’s Bicester Village, making it the most centrally located outlet centre in any major city in the world. Here’s what you can expect from the complex so far:
Big name brands
As previously mentioned, a number of global brands are already operating in the Hackney Walk area, with Burberry, Pringle of Scotland, Anya Hindmarch and Aquascutum having set up shop along Morning Lane, in a series of attractively renovated buildings around the Burberry factory, which now houses a Burberry outlet store. Names that have signed up to the brand new development include Nike, who are set to open a store in a dedicated three-storey building, as well as Ugg Australia, Joseph, Stone Island, Gieves & Hawkes and Matchesfashion.com, all of whom will be located in the recommissioned railway arches.
Support for local designers
From the start, the Hackney Walk project has asserted its commitment to support the local community, rather than simply providing a luxury shopping experience for affluent outsiders, with its incumbent risks of gentrification rather than regeneration. Jack Basrawy said, ‘It is an incredibly important responsibility to ensure that the project is developed in the right way for the local community and to ensure we deliver jobs and opportunity for local people’. Retail hiring at Hackney Walk will be overseen by Hackney Council’s Ways into Work programme, to ensure a focus on delivering career opportunities for the area’s existing young people.
However, one of the key opportunities provided to the area’s residents is the promise of free commercial space to one young East London designer per year. This ‘Designer in Residence’ will be housed in the Fashion Bunker, a dedicated space in one of the converted railway arches. For 2016, the chosen designer is Ashley Williams, a receiver of sponsorship through the British Fashion Council’s talent identification scheme, NEWGEN, known for her kitsch prints which have previously been showcased at London Fashion Week (LFW).
An exciting events calendar
Locals and Londoners at large will also benefit from the continued existence of The Hackney Shop, a not-for-profit retail unit which rents space to designers by the week, a welcome helping hand to small businesses who cannot afford full-time retail rents. The Hackney Shop hosts pop-up events that involve a mix of specific designers, exhibitions such as Un/Polished, which showcased unusual lighting creations, and collectives such as displays of the local Etsy community.
Hackney Walk will also be hosting an exciting series of free events through the Stitch Academy, which will see a string of workshops, talks and masterclasses by some of London’s most preeminent fashion figures, held during weekends at The Hackney Shop. Some of the standout events throughout the coming summer include a talk and Q and A with designer Henry Holland, a jewellery-making workshop with Holly Fulton, and a creative hair colour workshop from Bleach London.
Great food and drink
Hackney Walk doesn’t just cater to East London’s trendy fashionistas – there’s plenty for the more gastronomically minded individual. May saw the opening of Legs, a restaurant founded by Chef Magnus Reid of Cream in nearby Shoreditch, which offers a relaxed, contemporary space for lunch or dinner and has a particular penchant for wine. The new development will include a restaurant by Alistair Maddox – the Hackney-born and bred manager of Broadway Market, a shopping street that runs from Regent’s Canal and London Fields – as well as a cocktail bar.
In addition to this, the area around Hackney Walk will play host to a variety of pop-up food stalls, although this has been a bit of a sore spot for local business owners who fear they may lose customers as a result.
Hackney Walk, 145-161 Morning Lane, London, UK, +44 20 3795 8773