No matter how many times I go to Brick Lane, it just never seems to lose its appeal: It is almost a cliché to state the obvious that the up-and-coming East London attracts a vast amount artistic energy of the city, just like East Williamsburg of New York and Joordan of Amsterdam.
Fashion is ever-changing: trying to catching up with the latest trends and colors can be very exhausting, not to mention the fact that kids our age are not exactly made of money. But in East London, some things never go out of fashion – here you’ll be surrounded by a sea of denim, and by people stomping around in the iconic 8-hole Doctor Martens boots. Vintage is in the air, and if you come on a Sunday you will have the privilege to be surrounded by inexpensive products from all over the world dating all the way back to the fifties. You can even find items that are made in England – and I don’t have to tell you that such items are virtually non-existent on the high streets of London today.
It’s a wonder how the retailers from the Sunday market in Brick Lane end up with such a collection of garments and gadgets, but every one of them would have a different answer, thus the variety. Some of these garments are found in the Middle East, Africa and the number exotic vintage garments from South-East Asia are on the rise: the scene is no longer dominated the traditional vintage definition of suede, leather and boiled wool but diluted by various mixed medias.
But on the very opposite end of the spectrum, the avant-garde in East London, constructs a curious juxtaposition with the vintage end of fashion: around the corner from Whitechapel are Ante and Religion. Originated in Spitalfields like AllSaints, Ante and Religion has a longer history – it has been around for more than twenty years. It is best described as industrial and post-apocalyptic, and for men’s it is heavy on the knitwear and distressed leather. I am personally not a big fan of their statement tees but I can see how they might work for some. Ante and Religion also carries a certain monochrome chic – which I love – but as a small business their strong appeal lies in the fact that they make some of their products in Bethnal Green. The androgynous aesthetic of their products go really well with their relatively simple color scheme, the brand almost has a little bit of Rick Owens vibe to it.
Pricey though they are, their products never disappoint. You can buy an eighty-pound coat from Topman or River Island for the coming winter, or you can pay an extra fifty for something with a slimmer pattern and quality buttons, instead of awkward linings and a hood that shouldn’t be on the coat at all. Take a weekend off in London and think about it.
words and photos by Justin Chan, Razz Fashion Correspondent