Think you know something about Ilford Lane?
- Credit: Archant
Take a short stroll down Ilford Lane you cannot help be taken in by the vibrantly coloured saris, the enticing smell of fresh vegetables and the gleam of gold.
It is one of the few places where businesses are thriving attracting customers not only from around the country but also the world.
While people proclaim the death of high street, Ilford Lane has eight butchers, tens of clothes shops and 14 hairdressers and barbers.
Shopkeepers say that it is the up and coming jewel in East London and is already rivalling the more established Green Street in Newham.
The success of Ilford Lane, according to the chairman of the South Ilford Business Association, is catering to a niche market and having reasonable prices.
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Khalid Hussain said that when the association was established 12 years ago the lane was neglected with few shops and many vacant sites.
Over the past decade the remarkable turnaround has seen not only every shop reopened, but larger shops have been subdivided so more shops can be stuffed in.
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International dress designers, bespoke Asian jewellery and vegetables that even the worldlier person could not name are stacked to the rafters.
Mr Hussain said: “Ilford Lane’s the new Green Street. People come from all over the place. It’s so vibrant with multicultural shops. In the whole of Redbridge you will not find what you have here in one street.”
He said that traditionally people would go to Green Street but since that has become more expensive and touristy people are shopping in other areas like Ilford Lane.
“Green Street is getting tired and people are moving on to this area,” he said. “Not a single shop is shut down and we are proud of that. If you go to other areas there are lots of closed shops.”
Someone who has seen business improve over the years is dress designer Rashid Malik, 33, who runs clothes shop RDC in Ilford Lane.
He has a second shop in Green Lane but says Ilford Lane is on its way to becoming just as famous.
“Ilford Lane’s thriving,” the fashion designer said. “It’s become an Asian hub. People come here to eat, shop for clothes, everything.”
He said that he gets orders from Asian communities living in European countries, particularly Scandinavia, who order dresses from him.
Mr Malik said: “We do a lot of commissions from Europe, Canada, the US even Mauritius. Lots of places. We try and give something different. Most are wedding and party dresses.”
He designs all of the dresses himself and has his own labels with the manufacturing done in Pakistan and India.
One of the key draws to shoppers is the price, according to jewellery shop owner Hitender Gusani whose shop, Swagaat Jewellers, has been on the lane for 15 years.
“It’s a very busy area, people come from all places. Before they went to Green Street, now they comes to Ilford Lane. The prices are low and people have time to look around and there’s no mad rush.”
He said that the strong business community has been vital in its development.
“We are close and look after each other,” Mr Gusani said. “When I opened I was the only jewellers - just look at it now.”