Influential Croydon women feature in exhibition

The Ladies First exhibition in Croydon offers an insight into some of the most empowering women in the borough.

*This article was originally featured on EastLondonLines.co.uk

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Offering a unique glimpse into the lives of some of Croydon’s most empowering women, Ladies First – which features photographs of a range of women living in the borough – opened in the town centre yesterday (March 8) on International Women’s Day.

Photographer Jackie King said the women she featured – who range from community activists to Olympians – really inspired her. She told Eastlondonlines: “All of their stories were incredible. After things I’ve previously done for International Women’s Day, the fact that this is happening again is amazing.”

Pictures of Olympian Donna Fraser and one of the boroughs first female firefighters, sit those of alongside Lara Richardson and the Deputy Mayor of London for transport, Val Shawcross (CBE).

Local resident Leona Hunte, 42, moved to Croydon with her daughter after a divorce, and got involved with community groups after seeing the exhibition organisers painting outside the library. Since then, she’s been involved with many projects, including Ladies First, and has a photograph of herself featured at the exhibition.

She told Eastlondonlines: “It’s important women are seen as significant individuals. Women are as much in union with man in helping the world go round, so it’s important we are seen as big contributors.”

At the opening of the exhibition, a welcome speech was given by deputy councillor, Alison Butler. She spoke of empowering women throughout history who fought for women’s rights, and ended with: “No matter where you are in life, inspire and empower the women around you.”

King, who is based in Croydon, has won awards and has had her work exhibited all over the world. She rose through the ranks of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) and sat on the board of directors whilst studying for her MA- the first female and youngest photographer to hold this position- whilst also running her own photography business.

In celebration of a previous International Women’s Day, King photographed 100 women in science and technology for Imperial College, London, which was also exhibited at City Hall.

Some of her main inspirations are the women she met whilst working on the exhibition.

She told Eastlondonlines: “I was most inspired by the women we photographed- all of their stories were incredible. I think this is important because it inspires younger generations- they get to see what’s achievable.”

“It’s important for men and women to celebrate International Women’s Day – it’s not men bashing, it’s just celebrating women’s achievements.”

The exhibition’s images will also be broadcast on a big screen at Boxpark Croydon, which is working alongside groups in the local community to help celebrate the achievements of women both internationally and close to home.

Throughout the week, they’ll be showcasing a selection of events aimed at inspiring the women of Croydon, including Badass Women’s Hour x Girls Talk and panel conversations with women from the music industry.

Alongside this unique glimpse into the lives of some of Croydon’s most empowering women is another pin-up exhibition run entirely by the public. People are invited to bring and display a photograph of the most important and influential women in their lives.

The Ladies First exhibition runs from March 8 to March 15 at Bernard Weatherill House in Croydon.

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How Supreme is making teens thousands every month

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Credit: Mau Lencinas

It’s 9am on a Thursday morning in Soho, London- it’s raining, but outside the Supreme store that’s nothing to be phased by for the teens that have been lining up here for hours already, the same as they do every week.

One guy, Josh, has been here since 5am, and is skipping school to ‘cop’ the latest drop- which includes a branded snow sled retailing for a massive £250, although England shows no promise of snow this year whatsoever.

Josh is dressed head to toe in a blue and red panel tracksuit evidently inspired by the post-Soviet era, created by Russian designer, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and totalling at a price of around £600. It’s also probably now worth noting that Josh is only 16 years old.

Hailing from a rural village in Surrey, Josh travels to London every week in the hope of finding something that not only looks good to his 30,000 Supreme-hungry Instagram followers, but something that he can then resell on apps such as Depop for profit.

“I can easily double my money in a day….I buy a hoodie for £150, I sell it for about £750..people will pay anything when they really want something.

“I’ve been in this about a year and already made enough to send myself to uni when I wanna go.”

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Cred: Flickr

Over the last five years, the street wear scene has developed from being a sub-culture niche for the kids daring enough to wear it, to a symbol of wealth and fashion identity.

Between July 2016 and July 2017, leading brand Supreme grew by 801%, rocketing its value from $2billion to a whopping $21billion- and it comes as no surprise judging by the lengthy queues of teenagers that have camped out to get their hands on the latest rare finds.

Streetwear was originally created in America during the 70s, by disadvantaged kids who couldn’t afford branded clothing. They curated an image that represented recognition and identity, somewhere between informality and sophistication, that turned the concept of streetwear into a form of urban art- much like skateboarding or graffiti.

It began gaining popularity in the late 80s, as East Coast hip hop giants such as Wu-Tang Clan started becoming closely linked with large brands such as Champion and Stüssy.

It’s no surprise that from there, the market has rocketed, and with items released in extremely limited quantities, no one can blame the teenagers with enough spare time and enough spare cash for saving for their futures through reselling.

After speaking to fashion analyst, Hikmat Mohammed, it becomes apparent that the trend started when celebrity icons started wearing the clothes and appearing in campaigns, and that these super rich kids are just trying to find a way to be accepted into ‘normal’ society.

The uprising all stems from “street credibility”-  having these clothes that everyone wants makes these kids feel more accepted. It’s kind of the reverse of kids in the ghetto wearing Hermes belts and Gucci monogram polo shirts. They just wanna look like everyone else.

“Diversity has a massive role in this industry — these private school teenagers are getting exposed to musicians beyond Mozart and Elton John at school, and there is a cultural shift happening that everyone wants to be a part of.”

But while the concept of buying these big name brands just to resell them for four times the price seems unfair for genuine collectors, Mohammed says it’s just part of fashion culture and always has been. “Fashion is never fair.  Fashion always starts with something very small, a collective of people, which is then mainstreamed by private school goers.  You can compare to this cultural appropriation, but in a business-standpoint, these are the people bringing in the money for the company.

My opinion is that we live in such a health conscious environment, and fashion houses are capitalising on this, but at the same time, we are constantly nostalgic — nostalgia sells.”

Fashion experts say the reason for drops being sold in such limited releases is partly due to resellers- if they released things in large quantities the way high street brands do, there’d be no hype or interest in the brand as it wouldn’t feel as though people were spending money on something one-off and unique.

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Cred: LaSkateboarderie

Simon Beckerman, founder of the youth-targeted selling platform Depop, says there are around 400,000 active users on the app every day and with the majority of users being between the ages of 16 and 26, it’s the perfect place for youngsters to market their finds.

But getting your hands on this stuff isn’t always easy. Josh says before he heads to the Soho store, every week he has to go to a different location in East London that gets announced on the day to collect a ticket, that then transcribes to his place in the queue, and if he’s not one of the first 500 people there- well, then he just has to go home. “Even if you’re like 129th [in the queue] it can take you up to five hours to actually get inside…it’s crazy, but, we do what we have to do and if we get something we can sell, or something no one else has, it’s all worth it”

Josh regularly posts photos in his new clothes which has attracted over 30,000 Instagram followers- which he says is the reason he enjoys it so much. “If you’re walking around Soho or you post on Instagram and someone looks at you or says something good about what you’re wearing…that makes you feel good, that’s the buzz.

“There’s also like Facebook groups…Supreme Talk…The Basement…where people show off stuff they’ve bought or big profits they’ve made…it’s a real community”

Physical growth of Supreme has been purposely slow: the brand has only opened two new stores in the past six years. But if Supreme continues to grow at the rate it has, it could become harder to maintain the sense of exclusivity the brand has so far been successful at trading on.

Where once middle-class school kids once spent their parents money on gaming and big-screen TVs, they’re now paying “proxies” big money to queue for them on drop days and buy them £200 pullovers- and it shows no sign of ending anytime soon. Josh has funded his future education ‘flipping’ trainers for the price of a plane ticket to Australia, and if Supreme’s growth over the past 12 months is anything to go by, it would seem they’ve got a fair few years left at the top of the streetwear game.

 

Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon battle to become London’s first borough of culture

News and updates from London Borough of Culture 2018.

*This article originally appeared on EastLondonLines.co.uk

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Lewisham, Croydon and Tower Hamlets are all bidding to become London’s first borough of culture, battling it out for a grand £1m prize.

The competition, introduced earlier this year by the mayor of London Sadiq Khan as part of a strategy to support the arts in the capital, hopes to bring “people and ideas together”.

Six runner-up boroughs will receive £600,000 to deliver bespoke cultural projects.

City Hall said the winning boroughs will be “chosen based on their artistic vision and ambition to deliver outstanding cultural initiatives in their local area, putting communities at the centre of the programme’s design and delivery”.

Several cultural institutions will be providing help to the winning boroughs, including the Museum of London, the Roundhouse, Film London and the National Trust.

Croydon has already begun preparations for the bid, with a new website and campaign, setting out five key aims they hope will help them secure the title – one being the improvement of young people’s lives.

Croydon has the largest and fastest youth population of any London borough- with 63,000 people between the ages of 10 and 23 living there.

If Croydon were to secure the bid, they hope to increase opportunities for young people in the area and provide more routes into employment, through new internship and apprenticeship schemes.

They also hope to create more workspaces for artists, as well as making nightlife in Croydon safer for everyone.

Similarly, Lewisham Council’s #LoveitLewisham campaign has already received a strong backing, with the council asking the public to submit their own ideas of what they would like to see happen in Lewisham.

With two months left to go, 170 ideas have already been submitted it to the ‘Love it Lewisham’ site. Ideas so far include a street food market, historical walking tours, a street festival and the building of a community pavilion.

Tower Hamlets have already received over 540 supporters on their bid to become the winning borough– and public support is vital to success in the competition.

Kate Bloomer, 32, an accounts manager from Poplar, told EastLondonLines: “It’s got to be Tower Hamlets. We live in one of the most diverse areas in London, there’s people on both ends of the wealth scale, and this could really help a lot of people.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs added: “When it comes to culture, Tower Hamlets offers the best of London in one borough.

“We have a unique story to tell and this is our opportunity to show our rich heritage, where we are now and where we want to be as a borough.

“From the Tower of London to Victoria Park, taking in the Boishakhi Mela in Weaver’s Fields and major London festivals such as the new All Points East, we have one of the most diverse cultural offers anywhere in the UK.”

Hackney has confirmed it will not be competing, with councillor Guy Nicholson, the culture lead at Hackney Council, telling the website Arts Professional that the authority was instead “developing its own arts and cultural sector” through a new audience participation and engagement programme.

The bids will close on December 1 and will then be submitted to the Mayor of London for the final decision. The winning bid will be announced in February next year.

How Hackney housing boom is pricing renters on benefits out of the market

*This article originally appeared on EastLondonLines.co.uk

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Pic: David Holt

Less than 3 per cent of privately rented properties in Hackney are affordable for those reliant on housing benefits, according to Hackney Council.

This is compared to the affordability of 50 per cent of Hackney’s homes before 2011, with increasingly unsustainable shortfalls between market prices and benefits becoming the leading cause of homelessness in the borough.

While housing benefits currently pay out a maximum of £1310.09 per month for a two-bedroom property, the average rent  per calendar month in Hackney comes at £1,820- or £117 a week more than the allowance.

A spokesperson for Hackney Council told EastLondonLines: “Essentially the change is the result of increased housing demand, leading to house prices and rent increasing significantly above housing benefit levels.

“There are currently have over 13,000 on a waiting list and over 500 more are added each month.”

Since the rise in house prices, Hackney Council has taken action in the form of a ‘Better Renting’ campaign- which aims to introduce new regulations for private landlords, and hopefully make lives a little easier for those who find themselves on the receiving end of these shortfalls.

Since the campaign was launched two years ago, the government has met many of the recommendations, including making fire and carbon monoxides a legal requirement, working towards banning rogue landlords and taking action on revenge evictions.

Jamie Dudley, 36, lives in Hackney with his two children and has claimed housing benefit for a number of years. He told EastLondonLines: “There’s so much uncertainty about where our money’s going to come from. I’m a single parent with three mouths to feed- it’s definitely a difficult situation to be in.

“I’ve lived in Hackney my entire life but as the city grows and grows everything is quickly getting more expensive, and even with my job and the help we get, it’s just not enough in comparison to the prices we’re paying.

“Thinking I might have to move out of where I’ve grown up and where my children are growing up … it’s a scary thought.”

It is said up to one third of private rented homes in England don’t meet the Decent Homes Standard, meaning they don’t meet minimum safety levels, are in a poor state of repair, lack modern facilities or don’t have efficient heating and insulation. On top of this, the Better Renting campaign has found that 20,000 private renters in Hackney say their repairs aren’t done when needed.

It is feared the rollout of universal credit could make matters worse. The new policy combines living and housing costs into a single payment- including a six-week wait for recipients receiving their first payment. This could cause up to 85 per cent of tenants to fall behind on rent.