Boxpark in London’s Shoreditch brings ‘more than sixty carefully chosen fashion, arts and lifestyle brands’ to the derelict land around the similarly blocky Shoreditch station.
The concept is simple and imaginative. Take 60 standard shipping containers, paint them black and arrange them into a small village of retail outlets. Then invite a few dozen brands ’packed with talent, innovation and attitude’ to inhabit the units. Roger Wade, the brains behind the idea, is so confident of the scheme’s success, he’s now touting six to twelve additional Boxparks around London, with another ready for Christmas next year.
Boxpark offers cheap and short-term rents to help these young companies get a foothold in a new part of town where the cost of hiring space is otherwise rocketing. Even charities such as Art Against Knives are on Boxpark’s tenant list.
And yet this innovative mall is also something of a commercial Janus. On the one hand, it describes itself as ‘a home that nurtures the smaller brands, the edgy and innovative round pegs that can’t afford and won’t fit into the high street’s square holes’. On the other, you’ll find units inhabited by the likes of Nike, Calvin Klein and Levi’s. Some fear that offering cheap and risk-free beachheads to such companies might open the door for a big-brand influx, hiking the cost of living in the area even further. We’ll see.
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