18 months ago Appear Here joined the Deptford project in partnerhsip with U+i, focusing on one little street in the heart of Deptford...
At Appear Here, we've always believed in the power of neighbourhoods - and our streets. It's not the grand monuments, museums and galleries that define a soul of a city, those are all built to impress outsiders. It's the little places. The local butcher, corner shop, deli and local emporium, these doors give us a true glimpse into what a neighbourhood truly is. Who serves, what is served, shows us how a city actually serves the people who live there.
“What makes a neighbourhood? Why should this little street exist? When we started with Deptford Market Yard, these were the questions we asked ourselves,” says Ross Bailey, Founder and CEO of Appear Here. “And for us, the answer was simple. This street deserves to be here because of its people. Exactly who occupies this street could be subjective; how they look, the products they sell, how much they sell it for...But we believe that no one can argue that everything within Deptford Market Yard should be local. With this in mind, today, you will discover that everyone from its shopkeepers to its restaurant owners have ties to Deptford and South East London - to ‘their’ community. Deptford Market Yard has become a thriving neighbourhood, a place where local people serve local people, and we’re proud to be a part of this.”
Whilst many local streets across the UK are struggling to attract and retain interesting businesses, the new approach in Deptford is clearly bucking the trend. Demand for Deptford has increased by 862% since 2019, whereas demand for Oxford Street has decreased by 43% since pre-pandemic. It’s clear this trend is continuing to gain momentum. In 2023, demand for Deptford has increased 30%, whilst demand for Oxford Street has decreased by 20%, year over year. And, behind the success of Deptford Market Yard is one key philosophy; streets are better when they are unique, unapologetically high quality, and above all - by the locals, for the locals.
"The most alive street in London" TimeOut
Today, Appear Here has curated the street to reflect exactly this. The Yard is filled with incredible local enterpeneurs such as Stephen Mcclarty, founder of Sharkbait & Swim. Nicknamed 'Steve', he started his journey without a place to call home. At 17, Steve was homeless in London and realised that if he wanted to be well fed, he would have to cook for himself. This led to him enrolling in culinary school and from there he worked his way up at different restaurants, including Michelin-starred Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells. His restaurant is now a firm favourite amongst Deptford locals and for the Guardian’s Jay Rayner.
Similarly, Ping came over to the UK as a refugee from the Vietnam war with his family, and grew up in Deptford as a teenager and into his early adult life. Whilst there were hardships, this did not stop Ping’s career and determination. Ping has worked with globally renowned Chef Nobu, as well as launched Sexy Fish in Miami and London, and now, has set up his own restaurant, Kekaki Izakaya, serving traditional Japanese dishes in Deptford where his UK journey began.
To celebrate these stories, and the upcoming winter season, and our love for Deptford, Appear Here threw a supper club, where all the food and drink would be cooked and served by this one little streets incredible entrepeneurs.
Appear Here wanted to express their own letters love to the copmmunity, so we created invites with written messages, and a letter from Ross...
To create a truly authentic moment, we knew that we had to invite those who knew Deptford and South East London, and so our eight incredible hosts (Deptford is SE8 after all) all have ties to the the area. We then asked our hosts to invite their best eight friends to join them.
But, who were our hosts? Fashion designer (and recent BFA winner) Bianca Saunders, musical artist Tom Rasmussen, co-founder of SAGE Flowers Romy St Clair, painter and mental health advocate Isaac Andrews, photograher Alfie White, stylist and archivist Rhiannon Barry and co-founder of Anchor Lab barbers on Deptford highstreet Zino.
Local musical legends Steam Down performed a live concert underneath the historic deptford carriage ramp, styled in Nicholas Daley. The performance was free for the public to attend.
One final note to think about, courtesy of Jay Rayner and his piece within the Guardian...
"Deptford right now is feeling the hot, steamy flush of new money. Older businesses remain, but you’re also never far away from a bar eager to sell you a natural wine smelling of arse or a coffee that’s a classy tribute to carbonic maceration. Some might now be moved to sing the gloomy ballad of gentrification. Before you hit the chorus, let alone the second verse, know this. Steve McClarty has worked as a chef for Google and alongside Jason Atherton on television. But when he was 17, he was homeless. He kept himself going in hostels by watching YouTube cooking videos, then cooking for his fellow residents. Eventually, he enrolled himself in catering college. Which brought him here. If you begrudge him this delightful small restaurant, perhaps you’re really not quite as enlightened as you think you are."
You can read the full article HERE
Scroll down to discover the night and see all imagery by S.E London photographer Lewis Khan.