Treading London's hipster trail
The dictionary defines 'hipster' as "a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream". Sound familiar? While India and Nepal have their historic Hippie Trail, East London has become legendary for its own modern-day Hipster Trail, just waiting to be explored by bearded boys and vintage-clad girls. Here's where to follow the hipster trail in London.
Or more specifically, Old Spitalfields Market. Home to the murder scenes of the notorious Jack the Ripper, Spitalfields is as much a home for history as it is for hipsters. With a different market stall on every day, the Old Spitalfields Market is the place to find odd and unique purchases, as well as a range of world cuisines from a bizarre choice of food trucks and stalls.
Prepare to get used to the sights of grown men dressed in 1920s get-up like it’s a normal jeans and t-shirts combo and women sporting the iconic pin-up girl style, as you ogle at the peculiar range of goods on offer. From vintage fur coats to top hats, taxidermy and old-school maps peeling up at the sides, you’ll find a hipster treasure trove here.
Brick Lane & Shoreditch
A short walk away is the well-known cool kids corner of Brick Lane and Shoreditch. Particularly bustling on Sundays, Brick Lane is filled with an array of vintage outlets, food stalls and litters of French and English bulldogs. Keep a look out for signs and posters to discover any hidden markets or underground pop-up stores.
If you’ve ever wanted to feel even more useless about your artistic skills, then the street art here will do just that. All over the walls are politically motivated, brightly coloured and downright random graffiti art projects. In fact, the art in Brick Lane and Shoreditch has become so ingrained in this London neighbourhood, you can even go on a street art tour to learn more about it.
Just a short ride on the London Overground, you can find the quieter end of the Shoreditch spectrum in the Hackney suburb of Hoxton. This is a great place to stop and rest your feet, and your heavy vinyl and thrift store-filled bags. A particular quaint coffee shop is the appropriately named Caffe In, located adjacent to the randomly placed Hackney City Farm where you can get a feel for the English countryside among pigs and donkeys.
A one-stop ride on the Overground or a 15-minute walk from Hoxton, you’ll find yourself in the Dalston area of Hackney. If you’re feeling inspired by the Hackney City Farm, head to the artisan Farm:shop on Dalston Lane to pick up produce so fresh it’s actually grown in the store.
Not far from Dalston Kingsland Rail Station is former factory The Print House, which opens its rooftop bar in the summer, holding gigs, film screenings, and even supper clubs. If it’s raining outside, which is more than likely to happen in good ol’ Blighty, you can head for shelter at the Rio Cinema. Built in 1915, the venue looks very similar to how it did after a renovation in 1937. This single-screen cinema shows mostly independent and foreign films - the hipster’s choice of cinematography.
You’ve been introduced to the surrounding areas, but Central Hackney is where you’ll find a mix of street performers, scenic parks, bakeries and street food - some offering eels, if you think you’re brave enough. Waiting to be discover between Regent’s Canal and London Fields is the Broadway Market. Expect to see vintage bicycles locked up as the bearded locals peruse the thrift store offerings, organic food, and 'free-from' baked goods.
To get a feel for the real ‘against-the-mainstream’ treatment, head to Gossip, an acclaimed tea and coffee emporium, or dine at Rita’s, once a pop-up store phenomenon now a two-floor restaurant on Mare Street, serving a unique selection of offerings such as pigs' head ham and hibiscus cocktails.