Do you ever get fed up with high streets that all look the same? Me too. There’s one place I can think of which doesn’t have a Next or Boots in sight though: Shoreditch.
I’d recommend you start your tour of the area in Franze & Evans cafe, just round the corner from Shoreditch Station. They serve wonderful coffee and a vast array of healthy salads. I loved the decor, especially the chandelier. When you’re ready, turn right out of the cafe into Redchurch Street, an excellent place to shop if you are a man, or looking for a present for a man. Aubin and Wills, Hostem and Sunspel are all worth checking out.
Aubin and Wills is interesting: as well as selling clothes on street level, there is a gallery on the first floor, and a cinema club downstairs. Who could resist buying something from a shop with such a funky carrier bag?
If you feel like stepping back in time, Labour and Wait is the place to go. This is a retro homeware shop and is stocked with items such as metal pails and watering cans, wooden pegs, enamel pots and unbleached teatowels. The smell of the shop transported me back to my chilhood (longer ago than I care to admit). At the end of Redchurch Street, ladies can treat themselves to some organically sourced cosmetics in Aesop. NB: the assistants there are very generous when it comes to giving out samples.
Before turning right into the high street, take a detour to 2 shops in Boundary Street: 11 Boundary, an upmarket clothes shop, and 7 Upholstery, which does what it says on the tin.
Shoreditch High Street
This road is full of unusual shops, including vintage clothes shop Child of the Jago, co-owned by the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren. Work your way north, making sure that you visit Maiden, a design gift shop, Milk, a ‘concept boutique’., and Present, a menswear store.
Forget about the clothes in here, the attraction is the coffee. An award-winning barista (yes, really) mans a tiny stall at the front of the store selling 2 products: espresso, and espresso with milk. The smell as you enter the shop is divine. Don’t bother trying to engage him in conversation though – he’s not very sociable!