Hackney Council commission top designers to promote indie sellers

Pic: Tillie Cox

Inspired by the success of previous designer and good cause collaborations, Hackney Council have commissioned some of London’s design talent to create bags for them.

The canvas shopping bags will be given to those who collect enough tokens from market stalls and independent shops. Every pound spent gets you one token, and you will need ten to redeem your bag.

The project is in a long line of similar collaborations: Uniqlo, Topshop and Marc Jacobs have all sold clothes for charity projects. There is also Anya Hindmarch’s ‘I’m Not a Plastic Bag’ canvas shopping bag, which sold out of stores nationwide in under an hour, going on eBay for hundreds of pounds a pop. The project was about raising awareness of an issue; in that case the number of plastic bags we use and then chuck away to landfill. Hackney Council’s latest drive to get people visiting its markets, as part of its ‘Love Hackney, Shop Local’ campaign, is on a much smaller scale.

Designers Mark Fast and William Richard Green are responsible for the first wave of bags up for grabs, which can be found this weekend at Ridley Road and Hoxton markets. Discussing his motivation for getting involved, Green explained: “I’ve had my studio in Hackney for 3 years so feel part of the community, and as a small business myself I really understand the driving force behind the campaign.” Two further bags by Atalanta Weller and Simone Rocha will be available in September.

Last weekend saw the first bags going out to visitors of Broadway and Chatsworth Road markets in the east London borough. By lunchtime, the 500 canvas totes given out from a small council trailer had gone. Stall holders were all surprised, if not slightly bemused, by how many people had inquired about the tokens. Anabela Osan, who works on a cake stall, said she couldn’t believe how soon her vouchers went.

Inés Sordo, 21, who lives in fashionable Shoreditch, had read about the bags in the council’s newsletter. Though she periodically visits Broadway market, she had come down specifically that day to get a William Richard Green bag, a designer she likes but can’t usually afford. She explained: “Unlike normal designer collaborations which tend to be for big charities, I like that 100% of my money is going to stall holders. I love Broadway market, it’s an important part of the neighbourhood”.

Like Hindmarch’s bag, the environmental factor is also important in this project. Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods for Hackney Council, explained that the bags were not just a means to get people to the markets, but also a way to encourage sustainable shopping: “reusable bags for shoppers to use instead of plastic bags”.

The bags tap into the modern day conscience perfectly: save the environment and the British high street in one go. As shoppers at Broadway market stashed freshly baked bread, packages of smoked salmon, olives and all the other treats that complete a lazy weekend shopping trip into the canvas bags, it was clear that another successful designer collaboration had taken place. Though naturally in this trendy part of London, there was no accompanying frenzy.

You can find the bags at Ridley Road Market on February 3 and Hoxton Market on February 4.

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