Luke Blackall: Man about town


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The Independent Online

Once upon a time, all a brand had to do to give itself credibility was to hold a party in Shoreditch. This enclave of London's East End, represented the new, the different and (as media types are generally inward-looking types), the unknown.

The fun of an illicit-feeling party in an old factory was balanced with a slight risk. You could, as I once did, find yourself followed by an aggressive man screaming at you for wearing a suit (not a pinstripe banker's thing, but a light blue fashionable- looking outfit. I'm not going to convince you either, am I?).

But in came the members' clubs and the expensively converted "loft-style" flats, while the City's skyscrapers crept ever closer and people started talking of its demise.

But there is still a trend for holding parties in Shoreditch, and on Thursday night I found myself at three.

The launch party of the Lacoste Lookbook with a fashionable DJ (Ghostprophet) had a feel of the old place, while the E4 party represented the new (they had ferried the cast of Made In Chelsea to the East End). The last was the launch of a new book, Shoreditch Unbound, which focuses on the art and artists of the area.

Of course, "projects" are still "soft-launched" in "spaces". But the area is changing. To look the part, many parties practically bus in hipster-looking kids from other, more edgy places. You'll recognise the sort – they often sport two, competing haircuts on the same head, wear the same jeans, shirts and shoes as their friends while simultaneously telling people that they aspire to originality.

Any fashionable place in any big city will struggle when faced with the realities of desirability and commercial success. By the time estate agents are prefacing an area with the word "trendy", the moment has usually long passed.

Property prices start rising, forcing the bright young things to look elsewhere for homes. The original or one-off restaurants, shops and bars either become chains or are swallowed up by the sort that believe all you need to make it in a fashionable area is to contrast exposed brickwork with white tiles.

Of course, gentrification means nice things too. It's easier both to buy organic milk and to walk down the street in a suit without fear of being screamed at. But that's no good if you want to look like you're at the very sharpest cutting edge. Pretty soon London is going to have to find a new place to party.