2/52 Brick Lane
Brick Lane, deep in the heart of Shoreditch, is pretty much everything I love about living in East London. Even though I’ve visited quite a few times this semester to explore the famous ‘curry mile’ with my flatmates, it’s been at least two years since I’ve been to Brick Lane in the day time.
The last time I was here with Rob we weren’t really sure where we were going and we spent a long time wandering about the backs of buildings and feeling threatened by the infamous hawkers trying quite aggressively to get us to eat in their restaurants. We finally stumbled across some gorgeous but overpriced vintage shops and Rough Trade Records, a small independent record retailer popular with hipsters (and genuine music lovers, but mainly hipsters…)
This time, aside from feeling considerably less threatened by the over zealous restauranteurs, Rob and I managed to explore properly and discovered the most amazing indoor food market, full of food from all over the world. The whole place smelled delicious, and they had a vintage clothes market in the basement which I went to have a poke around while Rob wandered around the food market like a kid in a candy shop. Further up the road are more market stalls selling clothes, jewellery, vintage and ‘bric-a-brac’, the kind of place you could spend all day exploring (and I would have if it weren’t for Rob’s obvious pain at being forced to go vintage clothes shopping…)
Instead, we headed to number 91 Brick Lane, Rough Trade Records. The full and busy shop sells CDs and LPs from a huge range of recording artists, including tons of independent record labels, and regularly hosts live gigs for up and coming acts. My favourite thing is the photo booth. You can buy a token for three pounds and then strut your stuff in exchange for a flattering black and white print out. I love it. Even though I always manage to horrify myself by pulling one of those ‘funny’ faces which is meant to look cute and then looking at it afterwards and realising that I actually look horrific. Then I have to sneakily hide it from Rob before he realises and posts it on Instagram. #firstworldproblems
Anyway, we took loads of silly pictures, and when we got home I dug out the ones we took the first time we visited. I actually don’t look that different, but perhaps my eyeliner/eyebrow game has improved, so A+ for that.
The street itself is a really strange mix of curry houses and Indian and Bengalese deli’s and very fancy, carefully decorated vintage shops. It’s dirty and covered in graffiti and full of life and people. It also plays host to loads of pop up promotional events (such as the Adidas shop in the shape of a massive shoebox which is temporarily parked behind Brick Lane), in its current reincarnation as a trendy-but-not-too-mainstream little pocket of East London.
I dragged Rob to a few more vintage shops, and browsed some really gorgeous jumpers, shoes, handbags, and retro graphic tees (my favourite), but I had to stick to window shopping because these beauties have become so popular that they can carry a pretty hefty price tag (£15-25 for an 80s jumper which you could pick up for less than a fiver if you were lucky enough to stumble upon one in a charity shop). The East End gets a lot of stick for one thing or another, but amazing food, shopping and the opportunity to watch a tour guide present the various massive graffiti murals to a group of Japanese tourists as if they were masterpieces by Picasso is fine by me. I’m definitely heading back to Brick Lane, and it would be a great place to take guests, because many of the larger vintage shops have been partially converted into adorable cafes. Organic carrot cake with your chai tea anyone?
Big Love, PV x