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Spitalfields and Brick Lane

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published January 19th 2010
Jack the Ripper skulked around Spitalfields in his day; the Ten Bells pub where some of his unfortunate victims topped themselves up on gin is over shadowed of the spire of Christ Church next door. But that's the only usage of the word shadow you could assign to Spitalfields these days. It's clean and busy, and even the markets have a first world order to them, recently honed in a revamp which added some popular chain restaurants

Market shoppers will find fashion-school made clothes, vintage, faux-vintage, jewellery, art odds and ends, posters, bags, and gourmet and organic foods. Stores line the outside of the market building, setting the tone for the stalls and for the kinds of visitors the markets are trying to attract (and the prices asked). There the beauty school pink of a Benefit, some funky boutiques, Teasmith, designer jewellery and a bike shop.

So why are all the fashion and design school kids hanging out here in the pockets of sun drinking coffee? 'Cause just behind tidied up Spitalfields is Brick Lane, which is at the opposite end of the market scale: people selling out of suitcases and bikes of dubious parentage. Between the two is an Absolute Vintage store and the Sunday Up-Market, a less streamlined version of Spitalfields where you can find the kinds of clothes the design school kids are shopping for and more random vintage treasures: think Vivienne Westwood though the ages.

Spitalfields is the place to source that classic item of cool: fashion treasures not for everyday wear but guaranteed to make you feel instantly chic as soon as you put it on.

Stomachs are well catered for in the new restaurants: find good value at
Leon, ye olde English grub in a modern setting at Canteen and across the road the S&M (Sausages and Mash) cafe with its boutique bangers is just as satisfying and has its own brand of plastic table cloth chic.
The main packing concern for a day at Spitalfields is cash, there are always long queues at the ATMs.
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Why? Shopping for fashion treasures, Sunday lunch at the foodstalls with friends and people watching the kool kids.
When: Sundays
Where: Spitalfields Market E1, nearest tube Liverpool Street
Cost: FREE
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