Recently, Alex Proud, proud owner of Proud night club in Camden/dealer of things/ gallery owner/ generic business man, wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph proclaiming his hatred of anything ‘Shoreditch’, in which he lightly touched on the social implications of what he calls ‘Shoreditchification’, and heavily touched on his personal dislike of ‘stupid beards and skinny jeans’, and his apparent aversion to burgers-especially if they’re sold on the streets of Shoreditch (or at least somewhere in London that has been ‘Shoreditched’). Since I quite like Shoreditch, live in an area Mr Proud considers to be ‘Shoreditched’, and more than likely partake in the activities he so very despises, I can’t help but feel offended and slightly provoked. Seeming as he started off with a presumptuous, shallow and homogenising attack at the average Shoreditch goer, I feel it’s only fair to reciprocate
Now it’s rather obvious Mr Proud doesn’t hang around Camden very often despite steadfastly supporting it. Besides from the abundance of beard wielding homeless folk on the streets (surely a direct consequence of its now “must-go” tourist label?), Camden Town certainly has its own population of scenesters sporting antagonising hair preferences. I could go on with these cheap digs but I will not stoop to Mr Proud’s level.

On a more serious note, Alex proud takes a kind of Dick Hebdige ( a Marxist, and author of Subculture: The Meaning of Style) inspired approach as a criticism of ‘Shoreditchification’, and applies what Hebdige theorized in regards to Subcultures to areas of London, without realising the blinding hypocrisy of this. This is evident in the part of the article Mr Proud states that ‘Shoreditchification’s’ downfall is in how it reproduces an inevitable “life cycle” which consists of: hipster appropriation of cheap property, then ‘coolhunters ensure it starts trending on twitter’, then the appropriation by the mainstream, often leaving an area at a point of no return.

What he doesn’t acknowledge is how his analyse almost perfectly parallels Hedbige’s theory of the life cycle of Subcultures. Hedbige argues that Subcultures go through a similar trajectory of starting out as a kind of reaction to mainstream conventions and ending up as another product of mainstream capitalism. Now you don’t have to a London resident to realise how similar this sounds to the trajectory of Camden and its famous Punk and Goth reputation which has undeniably been commercialized and exploited by capitalists to an immeasurable level. Camden is expensive to live in, full of tourists, and full of ‘fight-ready designer-labelled out-of-towners’, just as Mr Proud describes Shoreditch as, and I should know because I’ve spent time living in Camden. Camden is the living product of exactly what he is criticising.

In contrast to the stagnant Camden, Shoreditch is still a hub for creativity, innovation, and design in general. It is home to the successful Box Park, the recently established pay-per-minute café, countless art galleries exhibiting a diverse range of art (unfortunately no Proud Gallery present), a rooftop cinema, and its home to some of the best street food in London. Furthermore, the disciples of Shoreditch, such as Peckham show immense promise for brand new ideas. Next door to Peckham is New Cross where there is a constant flow of young inspiring and talented designers and artists studying at Goldsmiths College and Camberwell College of Arts. Nevertheless, one has to acknowledge that the concept of Shoreditchifaction brings to light important issues of gentrification in general, especially in areas such as Peckham and Lewisham where house prices are soaring to unattainable levels even for those young creative types who are blamed for it.

The negatives effects of Shoreditchification are essentially the same impacts of gentrification, so it is important to distinguish between the two concepts. Seeming as the critiques levelled at Shoreditchification assume the two concepts as one, we must redefine this term “Shoreditchifaction” as separate to gentrification and devoid of the negative connotations. What Alex Proud is talking about is gentrification, but what Shoreditchifaction (if one was to start officially using this term) should really represents is the struggle felt by the victims of gentrification however this struggle is less a working class struggle but more a young creative class struggle. The social and economic issues associated with gentrification should not be blamed on the young creative searching for cheaper property in a ludicrously expensive city, or the budding innovators starting up remarkable new businesses in these areas either, it is surely a wider political and economic issue deeply rooted in capitalism and the chase for profit by the rich.

Dick Hebdige(1979) Subculture: the meaning of style. Routledge; 1st Edition edition

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