Tag Archives: east london

Guest post: East London vintage shops

By Yuli Linssen-Kaminitz

East London has endless vintage shopping options which make it awfully hard for a new fashionista to know where to begin. However, there are few shops that stand out with their originality, selection, quality and service.

Visiting these shops will make you realise few things very quickly: there is no better therapy than shopping, clothes make you tremendously cheerful and your bank account is not always big enough to accommodate all your needs and desires.

The Dressing Room: Entering the shop will soon give you the feeling you just arrive to an old, trendy disco club. The interior includes retro lighting sets, colorful wallpaper and a lot of funky attitude. Browsing through the fully loaded racks you will be able to find everything from 40-year-old elegant gala dresses, silk scarves, crocodile boots and so much more. If you are looking for a branded handbag you will be able to choose from: Fendi, Chanel and Gucci.
Get updated directions here (it’s currently relocating)

Absolute Vintage: This is truly the Mecca for vintage clothing. One of the most popular shops around East London and also the best vintage shop in London for 2008 – according to In Style magazine. The shop provides new stock every two days, and has an enormous selection of vintage clothes and recently opened an online shop. For those of you who were not lucky enough to be born in the UK – Absolute Vintage offers world-wide shipment. Let the spending begin…
15 Hanbury Street, E1. Visit the website here

Beyond Retro: Old school sneakers and sweat pants, prom dresses from the 40s, handpicked blouses and many more treasures! David Beckham and Kylie Minogue are huge fans and it is not difficult to understand why: hundreds of new items arrive to the shop daily, the quality of the garments is excellent and clearly the shop’s buyer has an amazing taste in clothes.
Cheshire Street, just off Brick Lane (lots of lovely shops on this street). Visit the website

Rokit: Started as a simple market stall in Camden, this vintage empire is now spreading over four stores in London. The style of the shop is funky, joyful, quirkily and mostly unique! Even though Rokit became tremendously popular all over London you can still be sure that if you purchase something, it will be one of a kind! Many items from the shop reach magazine fashion spreads and T.V productions.
101 & 107 Brick Lane. Website

Vintage Hart: This small, super cosy shop is the ideal place for some 50s-80s findings. Range of accessories, jewellery, hats and also some unusual looking contemporary items which will be perfect to build the most distinctive look for a night on the town! Website

Let us know of any other worthwhile vintage clothing shops in East London…. and check out The Vintage Guide to London

EasyToBook.com specialises in discount rates on hotels all over the world that range from simple motels all the way up to celebrated 5-star venues. For more information about hotels in London, visit their site!


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Writing in East London & London in general

I went on an Arvon course this year. It was one of those things I have had on my Life To-Do List for years, and I was very much looking forward to it.

Arvon courses are the Holy Grail of creative writing retreats; they get booked out very quickly and they also cost a fair amount – around £545 for a four and a half day course, not including travel.

As it turned out, I wasn’t overly thrilled by the experience. Sometimes writing groups just don’t gel, and this was one of those times. We did have Lionel Shriver come and read to us, which was great (it was going to be Hilary Mantel but she won the Booker Prize and pulled out).

However, I’m sure some Arvon courses are very good. And to be fair to the organisers and everyone else who was there, I wasn’t feeling the best that week and was in no mood to be among strangers, or indeed humans of any description. And maybe my expectations were just too high.

But for anyone wanting to dabble a toe in the world of creative writing courses without leaving London, I thought I would list a few courses that I know of or have been on. The single positive side-effect of writing being so badly paid is that most writers, even really good ones, have to supplement their writing income with other work, and tutoring is one such way. London is home to many brilliant writers and writing courses and organisations, much of it generously subsidised by the Arts Council, so I would urge all aspiring writers – and by that I mean anyone who likes sentences and words and reading and listening to stories and poems, not just those advanced types who plan to write a bestseller and retire to the Bahamas – to check a few of them out.

Our very own Baroque in Hackney blogger Katy Evans Bush runs various poetry courses, which you can find out more about on her blog and her website. I haven’t been on any, but I have her book, Me and the Dead, which is published by Salt, and she’s a wonderful poet and, I suspect from reading her blog, an honest, challenging and constructively critical teacher (the best kind: save the therapy, just tell me if it’s crap.)

Spread the Word is a great London writing organisation, with frequent workshops and talks by publishing professionals – I went to one a couple of years back where the head of fiction at Faber & Faber, Hannah Griffiths, talked to us about the business of getting a book deal while calmly breastfeeding her baby; she was refreshingly down-to-earth.

The City Lit is another solid London institution – not just for writing but for anything from pottery to German classes. Mary Flanagan – who lives in Hackney – runs a very good advanced critical workshop where you simply have your work critiqued every few weeks, and do the same for others.

Nick Quentin Woolf runs a few writing workshops at Brick Lane books – he’s a friendly fellow, gives sound advice, and is a shining example of how a good workshop should be run. This is a sociable group and there’s always a drink afterwards on Brick Lane.

Anyway, this is just a starting point: please feel free to add comments on any others you’ve been on and rate. Thanks.


Filed under Books & words in general

Swedish Brunch at The Claptonian Arts Club, Clapton

There are quite a few supper clubs and underground restaurants in East London (and London in general), but only one that does Swedish brunch – The Claptonian Arts Club. I’m not entirely au fait with the idea of going round to an unknown house for dinner – what if there’s cat hair everywhere? What if they just can’t cook? But I liked the sound of the menu, and somehow the thought of eating an unfamiliar cuisine is more appealing than going round to a stranger’s place for scrambled eggs on toast

We were emailed the address once we booked, and found the place by spotting a row of very Scandinavian-looking candles burning in the window. On arrival we found ourselves in a rather Swedish-looking room – all white walls and beautiful glassware and artwork on the walls (the girl who runs it is an artist, and uses the room as a gallery and studio as well.) Continue reading

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Even Graham Road has its charms on a snowy evening…

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Graffiti spot of the day: Kitten at Garner Street’s black palace

garner street cat Although not a cat person I think this little painting is quite lovely, and I do hope the council overlooks it. It’s painted onto the wall of what I think of as the black palace, a big warehouse on the corner of Coate and Garner Street, just off Hackney Road.

PS Any knitters out there might want to visit http://warmwomen.wordpress.com/

A friend of a friend is knitting warm scarfs etc for Karen women on the Burmese border and will be sending off a bundle on December 1st. If you would like to contribute a creation of your own then get in touch with her through the blog.

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Opening of the Savoy Cafe, Graham Road

graham roadgraffitisavoy cafe

Although Hackney Council has done some pretty dumb things lately– and for a more articulate discussion of that particular drama, head over to Ms Baroque’s blog – they have started a regeneration programme called the Hackney Empty Shops Fund to bring disused shops (and there are quite a few) back into use. You can really feel the Olympic Fever setting in….. here are a couple of photos from the Savoy Cafe on Graham Road, which was opened for a series of art events – it was a beautiful room, with original art deco fittings and laminate tables and a blackboard advertising eggs on toast for two quid still up – it closed in the nineties, but maybe one day it will open again. 

I also got a picture of the strange white creatures on Mare Street – I used to like their cousins on Dalston Lane that also got whitewashed before their time by the council, so it was good to see them pop up again down the road. Continue reading

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mmmmm mangoes

mango 2

Just a quick post to say how much I love mango season. It starts with alphonso mangoes, and now we’re well into the honey mango phase of summer.

I’ve always got one eye out for these little fellas, which have travelled all the way from Pakistan and are to be found outside corner shops and on market stalls, proudly sporting little tinsel swatches and wrapped up in tissue paper, ready to be eaten with yogurt or in salads or just as they are. 

According to a shopkeeper in Hackney Central who sold me a box of five for just three quid, they are going to be around for another two months. Get em while you can!

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