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London's Bankrupt represents a modern and open store, located on East London's Brick Lane they carry a curated mix of brands that all have the blessing of the owners and appeals to their youthful customer. Acting as a destination to launch and nurture emerging clothing brands you'll also find a selection of books, and in their words, "random gems", making it a worthy visit if you're in the city. As the words and photos below will attest, it's also a hub for the crew and their community, which is the beating heart of the store and, simply put, is why the guys do what they do.
We caught up with Ben and Hugo to find out more:
What’s the story behind how the store started and where friends involved from the beginning?
We wanted to create a community store, like they had back in the day, somewhere for people to hang out and connect. Sort of a hub, I guess.
How important is the community around the store?
The store is built around the community, without it there would be no point doing what we do. We would become a generic store just pushing sales to the masses, this doesn’t really excite us.
How have you collaborated with your community?
All the guys that work here are either skaters or musicians, also a good friend of the store is furniture designer Dean Edmonds, so we asked him to be involved and he did all the shop fits. Everyone knows each other so there is a real family around the shop. Of course, Junior (Cremate) is another local we have worked with over the years, been super cool to see his journey. We have other extended family members too, with guys like Henry Hotrocc who is a regular here, his zines and tattoo pop-ups always go down well. We’re blessed really, so many good people around… Wendy’s piece on the shop front is pretty eye-catching, it's nice to support a local writer doing his thing.
How does where you’re located shape what you do?
We wanted to be a destination store so we try to keep away from any other stores and stay away from the Soho circuit.
What are your favourite references and sources for research?
For us, 90’s New York shop culture was the foundation for our research in terms of mapping the vibe of the shop. We’ve lost a lot of community-based stores due to the internet so we want to bring back the 90’s, where you could chill and hang out, meet the staff and have interactions. I think this has been lost through time.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Last year wasn’t the best for anyone but we’re still here, hopefully for a while. Nice to see everyone’s faces again. We’ll be back to usual antics before long!
What are you most excited about right now?
Just reopening properly and having events again, we need to make up for lost time. We’re planning on doing lots more music-based events, live streams and stuff as well as pop-ups. The next one should be with the guys from ‘always do what you should do’ - love what these guys are doing, so it will be dope to support them. We love to see people shine!
What do you have coming up next?
Since moving to the new location we have a lot more brands on board. We also want to push the Bankrupt brand this year so look out for that. By the end of the year, we’re hoping to move into the basement too. The idea is to have a skate shop and a record shop down there. Stay tuned lots of exciting stuff to come.
All photography: Aidan Cushway
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