Fashion: Urban species

She's sleek but funky, minimal yet label-conscious - and her style is being copied around the world. Meet Hoxton Girl, the East End's most successful export
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The Independent Culture
This is Hoxton Girl. Her name is Rebecca, and she's a model who lives in the area of London with the postcode N1. She could, however, just as easily live in EC1 or E2 - or Oxford, Glasgow, Manchester or Brighton, for that matter; equally her name could be Claire, Agnes or Petra. We have called her Hoxton Girl because the way she dresses has been influenced by where she lives. And yet her look has travelled. In Milan and New York designers are currently reinterpreting Hoxton Girl style and selling it back to us - look at Prada's new unisex sportswear label, which will be launched in September. Calvin Klein are at it, too. And Helmut Lang.

You may have heard of Hoxton. It's a part of Hackney, in east London, which has acquired the "trendy" tag after a decade of regeneration from the inside out. Crumbling factories and tenement buildings have been gutted and rebuilt to house loft apartments, studios, pubs, bars, even an art-house cinema - all haunts where Hoxton Girl can be found. Alexander McQueen's first live/work studio was in a Hoxton Square basement; despite having to travel regularly to Paris for his work with Givenchy, he is still based in the area - as are YMC, Copperwheat Blundell, style magazine Dazed & Confused and others too numerous to mention. Hackney is also home to more painters, sculptors, furniture designers, graphic artists, photographers and architects per square mile than any other area in Britain. So no wonder Hoxton attracts a certain type of girl.

She is likely to work in fashion, the arts, or design-related industries, and having a good time is high on her list of priorities. Her wardrobe reflects this, abounding in stylish labels such as Hussein Chalayan, Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester and locals YMC. All make clothes which are both minimal and proportionally interesting (a hard combination to find), as well as being recognisable only to the trained eye. Mixed in with these will be a drawer full of Muji vests (three in every colour), plus lots of military-inspired gear sourced from car-boot sales and street markets, where she can rummage about for fashionable gems and haggle over a bargain.

So what is it about her that is so different from, say, Portobello Girl, her west London counterpart?

Charlie Harrington, who interpreted Hoxton Girl for this shoot, says she is into "downloading" her look. "She doesn't pile on the sequins, or go looking for beaded fancies. She'd rather be pared-down than fussy." This is the key difference between East End Girl and West End Girl. East is minimal and fairly androgynous, keeping hair and make-up au naturel, while West is prettified and sexy, and prefers kitten heels from Gina to DKNY aquasocks.

There aren't many well-known women who fit the Hoxton Girl profile (though the artist Tracey Emin, or McQueen's creative director Katy England, come close). But take a look around your nearest market and there she'll be, pouncing on an ancient denim skirt she can alter to the "right" length, or vacillating between a vintage Blondie T-shirt and a pair of stripy socks. You watch: she'll go for the T-shirt. Hoxton Girls always do. Melanie Rickey

This page, right: grey smock shirt, pounds 70, and grey skirt, pounds 80, both by YMC, from Pellicano, 63 South Molton St, W1 (enq: 0171 629 2205), Hip, 14 Thornton Arcade, Leeds (enq: 01132 424617), and Brother 2 Brother, 202 West Smithfield, Sheffield (enq: 01142 754296)

Below: grey wool headscarf, pounds 35, by Jo Gordon, from Browns Focus, 38/39 South Molton St, W1 (enq: 0171 629 0666); grey coat, pounds 290, YMC, as before

Facing page: details on page 34

Previous page: zip-up wool-mix sleeveless waistcoat, pounds 265, and quilt-fronted trousers, pounds 190, both by Hussein Chalayan, from Joseph, 77 Fulham Rd, SW3 (enq: 0171 823 9500); shoes, pounds 57, by Camper, 28 Old Bond St, W1 (enq: 0171 584 5439)

Left: T-shirt and jeans, model's own

Below left: denim dress, pounds 170, by Eley Kishimoto, from Pellicano, as before

Right: blue Velcro-fastening coat, pounds 320, and matching trousers, pounds 130, both by Daryl K, from Browns Focus, as before; DKNY aquasocks, pounds 75, from Russell and Bromley, 24-25 New Bond St, W1 (enq: 0171 629 6903)