If London were a quilt, its East End would be that offbeat patch stitched into its far side, made up of bright colours and multiple patterns. Strangely enough, this clash of differences works together harmoniously. Both an array of immigrants and creative types call it home, and the area is constantly pulsating with their energy. The very best thing about East London, though, is how the locals’ style is both exciting and laid back. Does it sound like a contradiction? Perhaps, but let us explain. Clothing has been an intricate part of the East End’s economy since the rag trade began there in the 17th century. It’s certainly a part of London that knows its style. But unlike other parts of the city, the unspoken rules of fashion are much more relaxed, which makes it easier for East Enders to be inventive with their wardrobes.
So, if you walk through one of the East End’s many street markets, you’ll find everything from students with brightly coloured tights (and hair) to middle-aged artists in fur coats and combat boots. The ladies of the East End tend to follow this mantra: more is more (is more). More mixing prints, more septum-style nose rings, more metal embellishments, more butch boot buckles, more bright lip colours. Other cities might bemoan this style philosophy, but the East End embraces contrasts and creativity.
If you’d like to shop like an East Ender, markets are a must. At Brick Lane Market, you’ll find a real smorgasbord of assortments, but that’s pretty representative of the East End itself. Some shops are filled with unique pieces and secondhand stock, and others are prime locations for bargains if you’re up for a haggle.
The East End is also chock-full of independent designers. Take Illustrated People, for instance. Their collections are bold and distinctive, from the nineties-inspired art prints to a pattern they’ve named “shark polka.” Stop by Kate Sheridan’s shop for its offbeat accessories that just ooze cool or the East End Thrift Store off Mile End for some really satisfying vintage steals. If you’d rather take a note from the locals and put together your own outfit from scratch, go visit the Hand-weavers Studio for an array of resources, from yarns to dyes, fleeces to fibres. It’s probably pretty obvious by now: here at KitschMix, we love the East End. Fashion is all about freedom of expression, and there’s no better place to embrace your differences than the most engaging district in one of the world’s greatest cities.