Posted by Ian Rathbone on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
Jack Basrawy came to talk at the recent WESTRA meeting. He heads up ChathamWorks which is taking forward the Hackney Fashion Hub project in Chatham Place/Morning Lane. It is not without its controversy.
He said 600,000 people visit the Burberry Factory shop every year and so they aim to create a ‘village’ round that, and already Aquascutum have opened in Chatham Place with 25 new jobs for local people. Pringles have also opened on the other corner. The plan is to open start-up businesses and bring in Hackney’s designers to workshops, along with High Street retailers and brands.
If it works, it will make Hackney a world class destination says Jack. “We have a committed team to bring about transformation here.”
He went on: “We’re working with the vibrancy of Hackney, working with local designers, creating jobs for local people who welcome this chance. Westfield is sucking the life out the local high streets – this is a way to stop that.”
He sees Well Street as part of the vision – those coming to visit the fashion hub could be interested in stopping at other local shops – but Well Street has got to tidy up its act – smarter shop fronts, better presentation and marketing of itself and what it sells.
He has been chatting to traders in Well Street. “Trade has gone down a lot. One answer is to re-invent yourself – show our strengths rather than weaknesses. Well Street needs clients – we hope to bring clients in everyone’s benefit.” Shops in Well Street could be used as ‘pop up’ shops by designers.
“Well Street needs to tell a story. And its biggest asset is the people. Retailers need to work together to get a ‘look’ like Carnaby Street people did. Retail is an experience. Amazon is not a proper shopping experience. The Japanese see London as a ‘mecca’ for creative talent. That’s why they come. We have to give them an experience.”
The time frame: The first railway arches will be open by August 2013; The incubator space in Chatham Place by March 2014. Two taller buildings will be built in 2015 and by 2017 which will house British and international brands.
The arches will have some High Street names and the second set will have studio space for designers. “We will be working with the London College of Fashion in Mare Street to help start-up businesses, give students a great college experience and somewhere to work afterwards.”