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Redchurch Street, then and now

23 July 2018

Redchurch Street, then and now

A real rags to riches story, Redchurch Street has grown from humble beginnings into one of the most sought-after streets in East London for food, bars and shopping. Where there were once slums, now stand craft coffee spots, boutique retailers and fully-booked restaurants.

Redchurch Street was once one of the roads making up an area called the Old Nichol. This area was, by the 1880s, London’s worst slum, with 120 cabinetmakers, 74 chairmakers and 24 woodcutters crammed into the tiny grid of streets, alongside 5,700 people who called it home. To get a vivid picture of the area, read Arthur Morrison’s book "A Child of the Jago", the story of a poor boy growing up amid the violence, disease and squalor of the district.

The plight of the poor led to the destruction of the slum in 1893 and the building of the Boundary Estate, the first planned social housing area in London, and arguably the world’s first council estate. Most of the original buildings still remain, and Redchurch Street, once part of the slum, is today described as ‘a design lover’s dream come true’. It is only a fifth of a mile long, but you may find yourself spending much longer there than you might expect. Redchurch Street has been transformed into a centre of design and fashion, an evolution that began in the 1990s when Sarah Lucas and Tracy Emin – who were represented by the nearby White Cube gallery – set up shop there. With adjacent Shoreditch House opening in 2009 during the area’s wider gentrification, a steady stream of higher spending customers led to some of London’s most interesting food and retail brands opening along Redchurch Street.

Shops:

APC – since 1987 the French designer Jean Touitou has produced ‘beautiful boring’ clothes at relatively affordable prices. Both women’s and men’s fashion.
Tracey Neuls – a shoe shop with a difference, Tracey’s collection is displayed suspended from the ceiling by ribbons or string. She started designing shoes over 15 years ago; each shoe is designed with two things in mind, function and fashion. If you want a unique shoe, shop here. (15% discount if you take a hard copy of the Cityscene - available outside our marketing suite at 54 Wilson Street).
Monologue – full of contemporary goods and furniture for those drawn to Scandinavian-inspired décor.
Aesop - this distinctive skin, hair and body-care company found its way to Redchurch Street in 2009 and has become something of an institution. 
Dragana Perisic – stepping outside the fast cycle of the fashion industry, designing women’s clothes and accessories that can be kept forever.
Vinti Andrews – two London-based designers, Vinti Tan and Paul Andrews, bring contemporary women’s fashion with a theme of rebellion and self-expression.
Miista – the second shoe shop to arrive in the street. All the shoes are designed locally in Dalston and made in Spain.
Kite – the world’s first-ever ‘eye bar’, where you can arrange a personal appointment with your eyewear stylist, sitting in a booth to peruse the range of eyewear on offer whilst the beverage pioneers craft drinks for you. Who would have thought going to the optician could be such fun! 
Timothy Everest – a modern menswear brand that seamlessly fuses traditional bespoke tailoring with contemporary designs and fabrications. 
Labour and Wait – sells functional, timeless household hardware. It’s like stepping back to a bygone era, with everything from balls of string to metal buckets and work clothes. I dare you to enter and not come away with at least one item.
Lucky Fret Music Co – for something completely different try this guitar shop at the top end of the street. They sell new and used vintage guitars.
Sunspel – classic British clothing brand famed for its luxury basics for men and women, expertly crafted using the best materials
Radio – a high-end hair salon favoured by the fashion press, the Redchurch Street branch spreads over two floors, with large dual aspect windows, a rotating art selection and complimentary drinks on the weekend.

Restaurants & Bars:

Smoking Goat – third restaurant from Ben Chapman, the menu mixes smoking and barbecuing techniques and draws inspiration from the late-night canteens and regional specialities of Thailand.
Franze & Evans – quickly becoming a favourite Shoreditch brunch spot, this corner restaurant also serves salads and marvellous cakes throughout the day. Its neighbourhood feel has helped to make it so popular.
Brat – arguably London’s hottest new restaurant, its simple menu combines Basque influences with the head chef’s Welsh roots, and is named after its signature giant turbot main course.
Allpress Espresso Bar – for those that take their coffee very seriously, Allpress offers the best on Redchurch Street, with beans roasted daily.
The Boundary Project – combining a high-end hotel and rooftop restaurant, the ground floor also features the Albion café, offering all day dining from a terrace extending up Boundary Street as well as a grocer and bakery.
The Owl & Pussycat – now a Shoreditch classic, The Owl counters any trendy drinking concepts or hybrid spaces and is instead a proper pub, with a garden too.
Barber and Parlour – combining a men and women’s grooming destination with a café and kitchen, its prime corner spot and bright pink stairwell makes it hard to miss.
The Redchurch Bar – don’t be fooled by its dilapidated façade – this bright red bar makes a good pit-stop either at the beginning of a night out or for a night cap.
Andina Shoreditch – Peruvian ceviche and street food can be found at this relaxed restaurant on the tip of Redchurch Street, along with smoothies and cocktails.