Over the past eight years the Old Shoreditch Station cafe has been the effective office of an ever-changing legion of East London freelancers from across the creative industries. When I first moved to Hackney, the cafe offered a perfect stop-off on the way to university or back - sipping a late and sucking on a cigarette on the vantage point benches out the front staring across the junction of Old Street and Kingsland Road towards the Church.
It felt like the centre of the universe. Everyone would pass by that corner at some point or other. Future friends and past enemies, lovers and ex's, all passing across and through each other's wayward paths oblivious to the myriad intersections of their worlds. Gaspar Noe striding blankly under Gustave Metzger's gaze, two artistic giants so close as to touch yet a chance encounter lost amidst the spiralling energies pulling them their separate ways.
One of the first articles I ever wrote was a review of an Andrew James Jones exhibition in that cafe, for a now defunct illustration magazine. If I recall, Jones' demonic caricatures captured the sexualized juveniles populating the local scenes with satiric aplomb.
Over this same eight years Shoreditch has changed a lot. Gone are the cheap rents, illegal bars, and creative atmosphere; replaced by the spreading waste-line of citified bars and West End facsimilies as the hub of East London cool has migrated up the road to Dalston's slew of basement bars and Turkish mafia run snooker halls.
In the face of this descent the JaguarShoes Collective have maintained the spirit of creativity and invention that made the area in the first place. Between the Old Shoreditch Station cafe and it's exhibitions, fashion boutique No One championing local independent designers and magazines, the ever-popular DreamBagJaguarShoes bar (again regularly given a facelift by emerging graphic design and illustration collectives) and Seventeen Gallery (surely one of the few remaining gems of East London's gallery scene), the collective have almost every angle of youth culture covered - all they need is a car park with skate ramps and a bike polo court...
Championing cutting-edge, independent and grassroots creative talent, the JaguarShoes are bringing the eclectic range of creatives who have collaborated with them on exhibitions and collections together to produce a range of exclusive beautifully crafted and limited edition products.
Classic t-shirts and screen prints by Chrissie Abbott and Valerie Philips, sit alongside those by Jiro Bevis, Marcus Oakley, Stevie Gee and infectious illustrator Will Sweeney, author of Tales From Greenfuzz and regular contributor to The Wire and Rolling Stone.
Matt Furie has designed a tea-set emblazoned with skeletal animals from a nightmarish Neverending Story-esque world, while mcbess, whose current La Viande exhibition has transformed the Old Shoreditch Station into a monochrome, cartoonish celebration of meat, is currently working on a steak-decorated plate to be released in the New Year.
The JaguarShoes Collective take over the London College of Communication pop-up shop from November 18, with a private view that night and after-party in the Student Union, while Matt Furie's tea-set gets its own grand unveiling at No One on November 25. For more information visit, www.jaguarshoes.com