When East London became cool it was the area near Old Street, stretching to Hoxton Square and Curtain Road, that became the main focus. Rivington Street was the central style artery with fashion shops and bars.
Fast forward 15 years and it’s jumped to Redchurch Street, Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland Road. The area became somewhat dead, but, now, it’s starting a new renaissance.
Left - Alfie Douglas - Large Backpack - £380
Charlotte Road, just across from the new Nobu Hotel and running along to Rivington Street has seen Anatome - the new health and wellbeing brand from Brendan Murdock open - and, just by chance, as I walked past the other day, Alfie Douglas - a made in London leather bag brand, which I’d never heard of before.
Launched in 2014, Alfie Douglas is a family named and run, handmade leather goods brand, ethically sourcing all components and designing in their studio in London.
The collection includes everything from oversized totes, backpacks and duffle bags to camera cases and tool-kit covers. The latest collection features styles designed to suit a busy life, each distinctive in the way they look and ingenious in the way that they can be adapted and customised to every individual carrying them.
The minimal, utilitarian designs made from beautiful hand stitched leather are classic, functional bags that demonstrate a subtle and distinguished luxury.
Made in London from Italian leather, what I noticed most was the thickness of the leather and the simplicity of the designs. While slightly feminine shapes, if you choose a larger size it becomes more masculine. This is leather that will last and, while not cheap, offers great value.
Below - Alfie Douglas - Zero Large - £300
Who mends their shoes today? What a load of cobblers!
Italian shoe sole brand, Vibram, is a bit like the Pirelli tyres of footwear; often cited and name checked by other shoe brands as a sign of quality. They’ve just opened their own version of Kwik-Fit with the ‘Virbam Sole Factor’. A visit to the cobblers has never really been exciting until now…
Left - My pair of rather sad, but still loved, Sperry Topsider boat shoes before their makeover. The sole had discoloured.
Situated on City Road near Old Street Underground station, a previous cobblers has been rebranded as a Vibram resoler.
Right - I went for something that was bold and made the shoes look individual and different
Think of it as upcycling or reinventing rather than repairing an old pair of shoes. A bit like a premiership footballer wrapping their new Bentley, pimp your old, or not so old shoes, with a bold and colourful sole.
My pair of two-tone Sperry Topsiders had seen better days. The sole had become slightly discoloured and yellowed, so I thought I’d bring these along to try the new concept. They’re also a fun summer shoe so I thought I’d go bold and opt for lime green with thick treads. I think you want your shoes to look altered and standout for the right reasons.
The shoes came out as well, if not better, than I expected and they, now, feel like something original rather than another sorry pair of shoes languishing at the bottom of the wardrobe. Bring on next summer!
It's time to reinvent. This is Vibram's first 'Sole Factor' in the UK and they aim to roll out the idea across the UK and Europe.
The Vibram Sole Factor experience is available from £60.
Right - The new chunky Vibram sole has deep treads
Below - The before & after at the Old Street Vibram Sole Factor