Former Eastenders actor turned designer, Liam Bergin, along with his brother Elliott, are now proving to be Waltham Forest style pioneers.
With ethical fashion high on consumers’ shopping lists, east London designers have been leading the pack.
The recently-launched Chingford pop-up store, Boom Done (boomdoneshop.com), founded by the 29-year-old and his sibling, might means a new career path, but it’s also helping lead the resurgence of the local high street.
Boom Done recently opened on Old Church Road, selling hand-printed, bespoke- designed T-shirts and sweatshirts, all designed by London-based artists and printed by hand. The range is also sold on fashion retail website Asos.
Liam learnt the art of screen printing through watching Youtube videos, subsequently making and installing a workshop in his shop by hand. His ethos is to use the digital world to help boost traffic local shopping strips.
“I made a screen printing press for around £20 – it usually costs around £1,000,” he says, adding that the paint is locally sourced and his garments are made on a wind farm in Turkey.
“One of next print designers is Thomas Mitchell, who’s worked as a stylist and set designer for Vanity Fair, Selfridges and Stella McCartney,” says Liam.
Using an old-school workshop philosophy in tune with the area’s manufacturing roots, one of Liam’s inspirations are local Waltham Forest cobblers who drop by Boom Done and are set to “teach him how to make shoes”.
In July he’s even setting up his printing press in Leytonstone’s Red Lion pub, printing bespoke clothing designs while customers drink their pints, as part of Leytonstone’s Art Fair.
His pop-up has also attracted other business owners to Chingford – a definite sign his idea to help bring interest back to the high street is paying off.
“There’s an organic café and supermarket opening here soon. Plus a guy dropped by recently to chat to me about opening a smoothie shop next door.”
He explains that his label combines fast and slow fashion. “If you want to have a bespoke piece of clothing made, head to Boom Done. People ask me how long it takes to print their design of choice – it literally takes as long as it takes to wait for a kebab.”
Another family heading up ethical fashion in Waltham Forest are Leytonstone-based brothers TJ (18), Tevin (22) and T’rone (20) Kittoe, founders of online men’s clothing retailer misterkittoe.com.
The trio, all with backgrounds in business, fashion and media, are launching in May, selling brands with an ethical or sustainable message.
The brothers are also making their vision known to Waltham Forest residents on World Fair Trade Day, asking members of the public on the street to think – and voice – how their clothes are made.
“We’ll have A1-sized cardboard signboards with messages such as, ‘Would you work a 16-hour day for a 90p pay cheque?’ and ‘If we don’t care then who will?’,” says TJ. “We’ll be stopping members of the public, and hopefully raising awareness.”
With Waltham Forest leading the trend for ethical fashion, it’s definitely time to join the green party.