Dalston’s market Tees up new ideas as loss grows

AN UNEXPECTED boost has been given to Hackney council’s attempt to save Ridley Road Market from declining custom because of expansion in the borough by Tesco and other big food retailers.

A young fashion business that has been selling its streetwear label T-shirts and sweatshirts from a Saturday stall in the market since August  last year, 2012, is winning over traders and the council to its vision of the future.

Joe Williams, above, of Dalston Coathanger,  told Loving Dalston: “Within a month, we can fill five of the 40 or so vacant stalls in the market. We’ve made contact with a lot of young designers and other new businesses and have interested them in the idea of a changing market.

“We’re working with both Ridley Road Market Traders’ Association and Hackney council’s regeneration team, trying to modernise the way in which individual stall-holders communicate to younger audiences, giving them a single voice against the all-powerful Sainsbury’s in the Kingsland Centre.”

By that, he means creating a website listing every stall, which for many people has long been a desire. He said Loving Dalston’s Rambling Down Ridley Road weekly column was an  inspiration.

Traders’ leader Larry Julian: welcoming ideas

The market needs all the help it can get. The council is hinting at a huge rent increase for market traders to make up for the £280,000-a-year annual shortfall. Recent audited savings of £25,000 a year made by the traders would, however, make that impolitic.

The traders’ association says: “It has become extremely difficult for Hackney council to propose a rent increase when it is shown the market traders are doing all they can to reduce the market loss. But we must not be complacent.”

Enter Williams and his coolsters with their ideas. Their business describes itself as “a socially inspired streetwear label, producing limited-edition clothing and artwork which is inspired by society itself.

Each range focuses on an issue that has affected society and that demands further discussion”.

The Boris Johnson T-shirt, for example, features, on an outline of the iconic Mayor’s iconic hair, a host of comments by youth about the August 2011 riots and, below, reaction by politicians and commentators to the disturbances.

Williams and his Dalston Coathanger colleagues are aware of worries the market’s  losing its traditional stalls and taking a  hipster turn. Traders’ association chairman Larry Julian is a little wary, although he admits: “There is no doubt the market needs new ideas.”

Williams, whose main job is media buyer for an advertising agency, is winning over the regular traders. He says: “When they saw us setting up every week, even in the worst weather, they started to accept us. And we joined the association as soon as we could.”

Hamish Scott

* Ridley Road Market, Dalston, London E8 2LH: Mon-Thurs- 6am-6pm; Fri, Sat 6am-7pm (sometimes closes earlier on severe days in winter)

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.


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