Hackney Fashion Hub might bring the world’s luxury fashion market into the borough but it is not clear how far the local community will feel its benefits.
Andrew Simmons, the strategy director of Hackney Fashion Hub, said only 10 per cent of workspaces within the project will be affordable for local designers and only half of the employment opportunities created will be reserved for local residents.
“I do believe locals would have preferred a manufacturing organisation. It would be far easier to see the local benefits from such a company,” Mr Simmons said.
“However, land is too expensive for such a massive organisation and people do not want to work in manufacturing industries any more.”
He added: “This project is focused on developing Hackney’s current young talent so they will be of future benefit to the Hackney community.”
The Mayor of Hackney said retail owners in the borough are jealous of new business projects, such as the Hackney Fashion Hub, because attention will be detracted from their own stores.
He advised shop owners to focus their attention on selling suitable markets for their customers because they cannot continue to rely on hand-outs from the council.
“They’re going to have to offer something that people want to buy because an awful lot don’t and what the council can’t do is subsidise shops,” Jules Pipe told Hackney Post.
Mr Pipe added that the fashion hub would ultimately benefit local shops because of increased footfall.
“Currently, customers are coming into Hackney solely to shop and spend money in Burberry. Then they go straight back to their homes in a taxi,” Pipe said.
“This does nothing for Hackney.”
The Burberry store on Morning Lane will move to the fashion hub in early May. The project has already delivered three luxury retail stores including Aquascutum and Joseph.
Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington commended the scheme and its proposed employment opportunities but stressed the importance of understanding the diverse needs of Hackney residents.
“I feel quite strongly about gentrification,” she told Hackney Post.
“Hackney’s diversity is amazing but special care needs to be taken when representing residents so the people who made Hackney diverse are not driven out,” Ms Abbott added.
Mr Pipe believes critics of the scheme do not fully understand the range of new opportunities the fashion scheme will bring to the area.
“There’s something about fancy high-end brands that scare people. If it was a large car manufacturing company, for example, there would be no complaints or worries,” he said.
“Retail is the best industry for us to pump money into Hackney for the people of Hackney.”
The Mayor said his council had also always worked hard to make businesses aware of support schemes they can apply for, such as business rate relief.
“I think we have done a lot to preserve and create business opportunities and spaces for creative people in the borough that couldn’t afford to do so in other parts of London.”
Featured image credit: Cristina Matamoros