This weekend was one of firsts for me. The first time I’ve properly begun to celebrate Christmas and overdosed on mulled wine and mince pies and secondly the first time I’ve ever visited a pop up mall.
Five years ago if you asked me what a ‘pop up’ shop/art gallery/café meant I would have no idea. But today pop up shops and the like have become as popular as the concrete things themselves. Take Franks in Peckham – a pop up bar in an old multi-story car park. Something you think just can’t really work but somehow does. And because of the idea of it being pop up and temporary, people are streaming to see it because of the thought it might be gone at any moment.
So this weekend the long awaited Boxpark was opened in Shoreditch. It’s a bit of a mix between a market and a shopping centre and made out of 100 empty recycled shipping crates.
Not only does it look visually impressive, it’s also a great place to go if you’re in need of some retail therapy with a bit of a difference. There are 60 containers which are stacked two stories high and five rows wide.
It’s largely made up of fashion stores but there are also food and drink crates for when you’re in need of some sustenance. A favourite of mine is Pieminster, where I spent a little too much time and I highly recommend the Heidi pie – a delicious mix of goats cheese, spinach and butternut squash pie. After the pie I was also able to fit in some Frae frozen yoghurt with kiwi, blueberry and honey piled on top which left me feeling slightly holier than thou.
The fashion brands have been chosen carefully and there are many well know names included like Calvin Klein, Dockers, Vans and Puma but also some lesser known independent stores, such as Original Penguin and Palladium. If you’re looking for some lovely vintage pieces, Farah Vintage will be right up your street with collections from different eras. There’s also the Amnesty Shop to visit with collections for men, women and children with the money going towards the charity. This is a good start for Christmas cards and decorations which you know are actually helping someone else out rather than lining the pockets of a multi-national company.
On the opening day a massive party was held with live music and a DJ set from Dizzy rascal and it was packed with people there for the party but also curious shoppers wanted to experience the bizarre shopping set-up.
The man behind it all is Roger Wade who became famous when he created the fashion label Boxfresh in the 1990s. He says Boxpark is the most environmentally friendly shopping centre ever. This is because there were minimal carbon emissions when the mall was created as there were minimal building materials and work needed. Also there’s the bonus that if one of the shops wants to move, or even the whole thing, it won’t take a huge destruction project as the containers can just be dismantled and then put up again wherever they next choose.
If you want to head down, it’s right by Shoreditch High Street station and around a 10 minute walk from Old Street and Liverpool Street tube stations.
It’s a little more exciting than heading to either of the Westfield shopping centres and you’ve also got the added benefit that it’s the first of its kind in the World – and you’re there.
You can find Boxpark at Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, London, E1 6JE
This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.