Clothes hangers


And East London is no different. The new Fashion District was announced in 2018 with plans to make the east end a hub for London fashion and technology. The project will boost growth, and jobs, in the local area by pinning fashion design and manufacture back on the map of East London.

Stratford is, of course, no stranger to fashion. It was where a young Alexander McQueen grew up, honing his unique style to eventually become one of the world’s top fashion designers. He’s probably most famous for using skulls in his designs - no doubt due to the number of celebrities photographed sporting one of his famous scarves over the years. 

You might even have noticed a skull or two in our own hoardings in homage to Stratford’s most famous fashion designer.

But where did Stratford’s fashion story begin? 

The east end is known for its links to the fashion industry. From silk weaving and calico printing to the many tailors and seamstresses who called the area home, fashion and textiles has a long history in Stratford.

Trends may come and go on the fast moving London fashion scene, but one thing that’s been constant in Stratford is style. 

So let’s take a look at the history of London fashion and how it’s evolved through the years. 

The Middle Ages

Stratford was a production hub for silk weaving and calico printing in during the middle ages. London, though, was where the rich lived, and its rich residents wanted the best of London fashion. Stratford’s mills were used to full cloth from London to clean it of dirt and other impurities to create the thick cloth which was used to keep London’s fashionable citizens in the style to which they were accustomed.

The 18th century

The London fashion scene absolutely thrived during the 18th century. Flamboyance ruled the day - finely embroidered silks, elaborate wigs and full length fitted gowns enhanced the women’s figures, while sharp tailoring and formal knee length coats complemented the wigs worn by the men of the upper classes. Understatement was not a word to use during this time, but local tailors and seamstresses made their living by dressing the cream of society. Greatly influenced by royalty, the richer classes attended many balls, court presentations and theatres which boosted London’s economy and encouraged craftsmen to set up in the capital. 

The 19th century

The Victorian age heralded in a new approach for London fashion. Men’s coats shortened at the front to form tail coats and, while ladies still wore corsets, waistlines dropped and sleeves became shorter which created a more natural silhouette.

It was during the 19th century that London’s fashionable West End became the go-to place for expensive items of clothing and other luxuries. Areas like Stratford in the east end became the home of the working class and manufacturing and created the rich cultural environment that is still a part of the east end today. 

The 20th century

London’s fashion scene moved even faster with the advent of the 20th century. From flappers in the roaring 20s to the electronic 80s, London fashion was an ever evolving lesson in style - it’s clear that the major world events of this century influenced the rapid changes. 

The wearing of trousers became more acceptable for women during World War II due to fabric rationing. It wasn’t until after the war that women could wear skirts again which was a major influence on the 50s trend for fuller skirts.  

The 1960s heralded the arrival of mods and Carnaby Street, with the punks of the 1970s elevating King’s Road to the front pages. Punk was adopted worldwide, and London was recognised as one of the most important trend-setting capitals of the world.