The act of shopping can be a divisive experience, normally somewhere along gender lines, but I would be prepared to bet that most people have at least once been betrayed by the deceitful mythologisation of shopping as ‘retail therapy’. Shopping can be hardcore, hideous megabitch – when it makes that imperceptible shift it can morph into the seventh circle of hell of escalators, crowds, queues, bags and blisters.
Is it wrong to want a little romance and daydream in shopping? I don’t want to shunted in and spat out, I want to be nurtured and seduced until I buy lots of nice things I don’t really need. Hurwundeki on Commercial Street in Shoreditch seems to understand this. Quirky, stocked full of antiques and things like vintage clogs and bow ties, it totally eschews style over utility, has softly lit stone archways filled with clothes and changing rooms with tall heavy curtains and stone busts inside.
Stocking vintage, new designers and their own label, it has become something of an empire for its Korean owner Ki, and Thursday sees the launch of a new venture at the bottom of Cambridge Heath Road. It’s a shop-cum-café-cum-playground, but this is no family Little Chef: featuring a beautifully crafted playground that manages to fuse function and fairytale, it’s a sanctuary for local families wishing to visit and enjoy it for its varying facets. It seems a hugely positive venture for the Hackney community, as well as building on the idea that shopping doesn’t have to be a stressy, hellish mess. I spoke to Ki ahead of its launch this Thursday.
At the beginning when you set up Hurwundeki what was your aim in terms of the shopping experience?
Actually I have always been a hairdresser, when I moved to England, I was working for Vidal Sassoon before opening my Hair Salon in Spitalfields. I began to cultivate my taste for vintage via the interior of the Salon. I started to sell vintage items within the space, and subsequently opened a vintage boutique; and later launched the Hurwundeki line of clothes. The aim was to provide a shopping experience that customers remember, providing clothes that are classic, yet have a twist, in beautiful settings made up of artefacts that may have once been frowned upon. This has generated our own unique clientele.
I always remembered it after the first time I visited as it was simply such a nice space to be in.
Why thank you.
In terms of designers you stock, what are you criterias? Who is your
In terms of the Huruwndeki label, the clothes have to be classic, which means that they’re versatile. They have to have a twist, like in the pattern of the construction has been slightly toyed to give an edgy look. The price has to be affordable. We have our own niche, and for fashion, we are actually fashionable.
In terms of the service, we offer our customers award winning coffee, at very reasonable prices. The settings are out of this world, somewhere quirky, yet mellow enough to relax in.
Generally our customers are not just one type, we appeal to a variety of clientele because different facets of our company attract more to different kinds of people.
With regard to your new venture in Hackney, what was it that inspired you to
set it up? Anything in particular? Were there any other similar places that you could use as a blueprint?
Well it was originally our headquarters. And before that it was used by the car lot next door. We relocated, offices, but I had a feeling about the space, and developed a vision for it.
I like the idea that you emphasised the functional aspect of it all too – where did you manage to pull all your playground pieces from? They’re definitely striking walking down Hackney Road.
Some of the pieces where from our Commercial St boutique and some from our warehouse, that had been sourced by myself.
What has the response been from the local community? Have you had particular
support or endorsement from anyone?
Everyone loves it. The local community think it’s about time something like this happened. We’re getting great feedback.
What are your plans beyond this?
To keep expanding, never being satisfied to standstill, if you’re not going forward, then you’re moving backwards.
Ki seems to have maximised the shopping experience by tapping into people’s lifestyles; not just the lone shopper with only themselves to carry, but the family unit too. I think it’s a creative vision that really riffs off people’s needs, and that’s definitely on the money.
Hurwundeki Cafe launches this Thursday, May 28th.
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