London is an ever evolving city and neighbourhoods are always going in and out of fashion. Shoreditch hung on for a long time but eventually it too, fell from grace. An affluent crowd moved in and the area lost its edge. At first graffiti and grime sat comfortably next to independent boutiques and a Soho House club, but Shoreditch became complacent.
Happening postcodes come and go in London. Dalston became the new Hoxton, Brixton had the hippest market in South London but then Tooting Broadway took its crown. Tooting Market is now the place to drink an almond flat white for breakfast or a craft gin in the evening. Honestly I never ever thought I’d be writing that sentence but I am, so well done the Broadway!
Back in the day, Camden was where we’d all flock to at the weekend for our fix of new clubs, bars and all the latest trends at the market stalls. It’s where punks, goths and ‘muggles’ like me bought our Dr Martins - in my case in an attempt to spice up my Benetton wardrobe! However with that popularity came commercialism and all that entails; restaurant chains, themed bars and high street brands. They all conspired to dilute the very thing that made Camden so cool and its fate was sealed.
Shoreditch like Camden existed in a fragile ecosystem where incoming hipsters rubbed shoulders with the locals and that’s what gave it its vibe. On Brick Lane, Columbia Road and Redchurch Street, concept stores and artisan chocolate boutiques sat alongside curry houses, the best beigel bakery in London and a chippy with a Peggy Mitchell lookalike behind the counter. This eclectic mix of establishments catered for everyone, but then they were replaced by designer cafes serving tea and sourdough toast for a tenner, prices that only tourists would ever be prepared to pay.
In such a cosmopolitan and wealthy city as London, regeneration, expansion and urban redevelopment are inevitable but it comes at a cost. If the vibrant energy of an area is buried under luxury flats and faceless corporations then another neighbourhood will become a victim of gentrification.
Shoreditch sold out to the multinationals and the writing was on the wall. It went from cool to bland and formulaic, and worst of all it became mainstream - the ultimate crime. Now the search is on for the next up and coming destination. My money is on Croydon.
Words and photos by Tanya Taylor © 2019