Spitalfields – from strip-joints to hip joints

As recent as the 1990s walking around the area near Spitalfields Market and Shoreditch after work involved being propositioned by prostitutes and the pubs in the area invariably supplied a basic cocktail of lager, peanuts and strippers.

Spitalfields as it was.

As for shops. There weren’t any. Fast forward to today and its blindingly obvious that the area has been through a revolution. Highlighting this massive change to the infrastructure of this area just east of the City of London is a publication that has come across the desk of Retailinsider.com.

‘Capital Watch’ from Cushman & Wakefield lists the new ‘hot spots’ in London where record rentals are being recorded as national and international brands fight for exposure on the best streets. Previously, ‘best’ simply meant the obvious roads – Sloane Street, Bond Street, and Oxford Street etcetera.

But not any more as these traditional West End areas have been joined by newcomers Brompton Cross and most interestingly Shoreditch (with the Spitalfields complex the jewel in its crown). This part of town has also received a boost from pop-up mall Boxpark (as recently featured in Retailinsider.com) planting itself nearby.

Cushman & Wakefield are now in the process of further revitalising the tenant mix to Spitalfields Market, which includes bringing in the likes of NW3 and Mischa Barton’s new label, that have helped push the Zone A level from £125 to £200 over the past 18 months.

I thought it was already a relatively high-falutin mix. But clearly not. Although it is a world away from the mix of even a handful of years ago (when it underwent re-development) in those days it was very much a laid-back space packed with independents.

Spitalfields as it is.

Many of those businesses sadly disappeared to be replaced with more professional operators – including some well know names. But now it seems the continuation of this evolution is for these names to be replaced over time with brands that are maybe not overly well known but are still backed by chunky money and are looking for fashionable locations with a touch of edge – but not too edgy.

As a single-owner space Spitalfields has the advantage of its tenants being managed in a much more holistic way than most other shopping locations – think along the lines of Marylebone High Street – which ensures there is a healthy mix of operators.

It has to be hoped that this mix still involves an independent element as it would be a great shame for the market and the surrounding area to go too far down the overtly-branded (fashion-focused) route – which is undoubtedly where some big money exists.

Regardless of what happens from this point on, the area is unrecognisable from the less than salubrious environment it was a few years back when the likes of Mischa Barton and NW3 wouldn’t have been seen dead in this part of London E1.