RETAIL ON THE WILD SIDE

Written by root. Posted in Featured Article, FEATURES

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Published on March 06, 2019 with No Comments

Camden Market, London street style at its purest, turns 45 and remains as vibrant as ever.

Words VIKI XAVIER

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London’s iconic Camden Market celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. And what a journey it has been! From a mere 16-stall pop up that opened in 1974, the market now is home to almost 1,000 different tenants. And it is constantly evolving, too!

Today, Camden Market hosts an impressive and extensive line up of food, drink and retail vendors and you can bet that no two visits will be the same. As the market embraces its 45th year, there has been substantial investments across the market including the restoration of its buildings and the revitalisation of its offerings. The result is a destination that appeals to everyone, both as an international must-see and a local Londoner neighbourhood hangout.

Camden Market’s trading history began in the 1970s when it was made up of a handful of stalls and artisan workshops, selling antiques, jewellery and arts and crafts. Originally temporary and only open on Sundays, it is now the largest market in London and opens seven days a week.

What visitors may not know is that the area also has a strong music history. In the 1970s, Dingwalls Dance Hall officially opened and its legacy lives on today as one of London’s most famous live music venues. Run by Jimi Hendrix’s former manager, it featured live performances a few nights a week and became famous for spotlighting up-and-coming musicians and counter culture bands that have since become household names, including The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Blondie. The market continues to showcase and nurture emerging talents, regularly hosting live music performance pop ups and events as well as intimate gigs throughout its venues.

Today, Camden Market’s popularity continues to grow and it is now one of – if not the biggest – markets in London, and the place to go for visitors looking to discover something new. The market has always championed small business and entrepreneurs, often acting as a launch pad for young designers, street food brands or retailers to become an established name. It’s the birthplace of creativity and many new brands have cut their teeth and grown after being founded here. It is also a melting pot of international cultures, reflected across the global street food and artisan brands and the events it hosts.

Unbeknownst to many, the market is divided into several areas. Camden Market’s West Yard is located overlooking the Regent’s Canal and boasts an international street food line up of over 30 traders. From Columbian to Japanese, Greek to Indian, Spanish to Middle Eastern – you could spend an entire day eating your way around the market on a global street food safari and still have barely made a dent in the endless choices available. The market also has a strong vegan and vegetarian audience, including London’s first 100% vegan pie and mash shop.

For fine food produce and dining, the market’s North Yard is the place to go. The market’s new F&B team, Commercial Director Maggie Milosavljevic (former Operations Manager, Harrods) and Executive Chef, Alistair Dibbs (former Executive Sous Chef, Harrods) aims to curate a ‘London go to’ for artisan, quality food products and further evolve the existing offering with the addition of new restaurants, cafés and shops that champion locally sourced ingredients, demonstrating the culinary creativity of its in-house chef teams. New additions that have opened this year include a fine foods luxury delicatessen / café (where you can expect high quality cheese and other Great Taste Award winning produce), and a rotisserie restaurant which boasts an open kitchen and exposed rotisserie – the first in the UK to pioneer the Josper charcoal oven cooking method that delivers a charring and smoky flavour that sets it apart from other rotisserie restaurants.

Market Hall and East Yard is where visitors can find one-of-a-kind, handmade, quirky products, from candles and soap to jewellery and art. And for those who enjoy watching the creative process and seeing the craftsmen at work, you can often see the traders in action creating the pieces before you in front of their stalls.

The Triangle is an area that has also undergone recent restoration to respectfully bring back and preserve the rich history of its Grade II listed buildings. Throughout the years, general wear and tear has slowly decayed the buildings, obscuring the once beautiful listed properties. The Triangle now harks back to the market’s original retail roots and champions artisan processes, craftsmanship and emerging talents and revolves around menswear, womenswear, accessories and lifestyle brands.

Meander your way through the market and you will discover the Horse Tunnels which serve as Camden Market’s iconic vintage district. Here, tenants sell everything from vintage clothes to antique furniture. You can always find a gem at one of these stalls.

To enjoy the market, one just needs to poke around the stalls and have fun – unless you are a purist with a certain distinctive taste. The markets all flow into one another, and this is one of the few places in London that truly reflects the community vibe at its purest.

 

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