East London style: easy to recognise but hard to distill. Whether they’re picnicking in London Fields on a warm Sunday afternoon or hunting for bargains at Brick Lane Market, East Londoners have an enviable street style that artfully balances laid-back and fashion-forward.
The East End has a longstanding connection with the fashion world. The historical London home of cloth dyeing and silk weaving, by the 19th century it was the capital’s garment-making hub. Thanks to alarmingly cheap rent in the 90s (now, sadly, a thing of the distant past) Shoreditch attracted artists and creatives who sparked a rebirth of the area, which now houses as many high-end boutiques – APC and Hostem to name but a few – as it does bargain vintage shops.
From outspoken clashing patterns to head-to-toe camel tones, almost anything goes in this London borough – the more outré the better. With such an eclectic style amongst its inhabitants, it follows naturally that the area is also a diverse and progressive shopping district.
Whether you’ve got an afternoon or a whole weekend set aside to explore, you’ll find something unexpected and inspiring here. From Saturday morning to sunset on Sunday, follow our guide to discover the best of East London.
Saturday mornings in East London are incomplete without a trip down to Broadway Market. Get there early to beat the hoards of fresh produce enthusiasts, and take your pick of the vegetables, breads and cheeses on offer. It’s the ideal spot for an artisanal pick-and-mix breakfast – for an authentic market experience, head to the eternally popular Jewish Deli for a salt-beef bagel.
The local uniform typically consists of trainers, smartly tailored trousers and understated jumpers. Stan Smiths and supersoft knits from the likes of Extreme Cashmere abound, showcasing East London style at its most reserved.
A short bus ride from Mare Street takes you to the next stop, Brick Lane Market. In recent years, it’s grown from being the only place in town to get a really, really good curry to the capital's street style hub.
As other parts of the East End have become more high-end, the quirkier and more ramshackle stalls and shops have migrated to Brick Lane. Blend in with the market regulars in a Liska fur, for an afternoon rifling through racks of vintage shirts, jackets and dresses.
Don’t miss Beyond Retro, a second-hand institution amongst Londoners boasting row upon row of pre-loved sheepskin jackets, cowboy boots and sequined dresses. Just down Kingsland Road is House of Liza, home to more high-end vintage finds. Browse rare collector’s treasures from designer labels, with a focus on the Seventies and Nineties.
Redchurch Street in Shoreditch is a two-mile stretch heralded as the new Bond Street, at least according to scouts from Prada and Christian Louboutin spotted eyeing up potential shop spaces in the area. Local nail salons and mini-cab offices now jostle for space with the likes of French label APC and Margaret Howell’s flagship store.
Hostem bears a close resemblance to a gallery, with a minimalist aesthetic and artfully placed clothing. In fact, many shops on the street stand in ex-gallery spaces, offering couture in place of culture. YMC has a similarly scant yet enticing feel, proving the old maxim right: less really is more. Zadig & Voltaire designs are well-suited for an afternoon browsing Redchurch street, combining cool colour palettes and relaxed silhouettes.
Endearingly shabby Dalston is home to LN-CC, which caters to both genders with brands like Rick Owens, Saint Laurent and Marni. This area embodies the grittier side of East fashion, and athleisure-clad shoppers are at one with their surroundings in street style mecca Goodhood (also located on Redchurch street, in case you need to pick something up).
Saturday: after dark
With a new bar opening almost weekly, Hackney Wick has night-time entertainment as varied in taste and tone as its inhabitants. It’s the perfect place for people-watching after a long day spent soaking up East London style. Steer clear of run-of-the-mill clubbing wear in favour of laid-back ensembles; think oversized trousers, flatforms and a silk bomber jacket.
Sip a cocktail on the deck behind Number 90, a lively bar that backs onto the River Lee. A few doors down is clubbing institution Shapes, which hosts regular house nights. If 6am finishes aren’t your thing, pay a visit to brewery and pizzeria CRATE in nearby Queen’s Yard.
Sunday mornings are a thing of beauty at Columbia Road Flower Market. While these days the market is saturated with girls posing for pictures with bunches of peonies, it came along well before food trucks and artisanal breads. Many stall owners are third-generation flower sellers, so expect the hard sell and plenty of East End shouting. Head over towards closing time at 2pm for some sweet-scented last-minute bargains.
Wander across from Columbia Road to London Fields, bringing your weekend trip full circle. Take a leaf out of E8 street style with playfully embroidered denim from Stella McCartney and a Nº21 cable knit, ideal for a breezy Sunday picnic.