Shepherd's Bush Market: going to a century of fabric


Rating: 7/10

Address: Shepherd's Bush Market, Uxbridge Road, London, W12 7JD

Tube: Shepherd Bush Market (Hammersmith & City)

Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30-17:30; Sun CLOSED

£1-40 for fabric; Bra fitting for free

By Corinne Chang

“During summertime, some women would directly fit their underwear in my stall. Some would ask me to fit their bras for them.”

Surjeet Duggal has been selling ladies’ underwear in the market for 28 years.

Surieet confesses that they didn’t mind him touching their breasts, and he is quite satisfied with his “happy, lucky job”, we’ll say.

The perks of Shepherds Bush Market

What makes both housewives living near Portobello Market or in the Shepherd's Bush district itself specifically go here? What attracts BBC presenters to squeeze into a narrow road?

Judging from the street scattered with litter, stalls hanging by threads, and the dirty toilets, you could easily think that Shepherds Bush Market has been forgotten.

The market sells old-fashioned clothes, halal meat and vegetarian food. Aside from an obviously multi-cultural mix of people, there seems to be nothing special here.

Delve further, however, you will find it unique.  Walking towards the end of the market, around 20 fabric shops are waiting for you. They have become pillars of the market, which has existed now for over 100 years and has even been mentioned in a poem by Connie Bensley as part of Poems on the Underground.

Standing the test of time

The oldest fabric shop is 94 years old, and has been passed down through three generations. It is now run by Danielle Horada and her brother.

The heyday of Horada’s shop was before the 1980s, when it was the only fabric shop in the market.

Businesses that have been running in the area for a long time provide Danielle with unique sources for cloths. 

“This is calico,” Danielle says, pointing to a very thin cotton. “It is hard to find in a posh area.”

Prices for fabrics range from £1-40/m, and most shops have more than 1,000 varieties. Many owners said that every week there are one or two BBC presenters that come in for fabric.

However, not all shop owners are as friendly as Danielle: on seeing another customer, some will say, “You stand here, and I’ll serve her. Otherwise I can’t pay the bill.”

Danielle is disappointed by the lack of diversity in Shepherds Bush Market.

“There was an electric shop, a toy shop and a lot of variety, but now there are almost 20 ladies’ underwear shops.” She is concerned that stores copying one another is making each individual’s marketing more and more ordinary.

Ione Hall, who has been shopping in the market for 20 years, lives near Portobello Market, but still chooses to shop at Shepherds Bush.

“I like being in a community market, where you see familiar and friendly faces. This is what a market should be like,” said Ione.

These bright attitudes sustain Shepherds Bush Market as the centre of a community, making it a viable local alternative to the vast Portobello.