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179 - Lost Loves of London 💔 👻
When we saw soft flirt’s “Lost Loves of London” t-shirt debut this fall, we knew we’d want to ask designer Alayna Hryclik all about it. What led to its creation? What’s the reception been like? And, what does she miss most these days?! Here’s what she had to say…
1. Tell us about the inspiration behind the design. 💡
The idea came to me when I was too busy to make a new design—I find that is usually when my best ideas pop up. The thought was to create something less about “closed places that I miss” and more about well-loved places from London’s history.
I was screen printing, and there happened to be a back garden full of friends there, so I did a quick sketch on my iPad to illustrate my idea. It was met with enthusiasm and very nostalgic shared feelings, so I knew I had to delve into it further.
From there, I put an ask out on Instagram (more on that below) to get more suggestions for lost or long-gone spaces, consulted a friend with expertise in gravestone shapes (thanks Robyn!), and got to work on the design.
2. What has the response been like so far? 🤔
The response has been incredible! After sharing some sneak peeks, I upped my first run quantities going into September’s Punk Rock Flea Market and created more options—adding tea towels, crewneck sweatshirts and a 16x20 poster in addition to the original t-shirt and zine. I sold out of everything except for a few zines!
I’ve just finished printing a second round, and it looks like a third will be needed to keep up with the demand!
It’s been really nice connecting with people about their favourite spaces. Most people who’ve spent even a little bit of time with London learn quickly that places don’t last forever here, but I think the response to this design has proven that these gone-but-not-forgotten spaces add to the shared social memories of this city.
3. You asked your Instagram followers for help making the list: were there any suggestions that surprised you? 😮
The surprises for me were some of the bigger, more corporate places that I certainly didn’t feel a fondness for; that reminded me that “oh yeah, those places can mean something to someone too.”
Some of the other suggestions felt a little bit “before my time”—from either before I lived in London, or before I started to really dig my heels into this city—but I felt it was important to include them because this design couldn’t just be for me: it had to be for everyone, or it wouldn’t work.
4. Who/What do you personally miss the most? Why? 😢
Of course I’m going to say Call the Office, it feels like the freshest wound for me. It’s been really special to me for a long time, and it is dearly missed. It was also home to Punk Rock Flea, which is the market I launched soft flirt at in 2016.
Second to that, would be Ritual Cafe. It was a place I wish I spent more time in when it was around. There was just something about it… the decor, the people, the food. It was a really sweet little spot, and I wish it had a bit more time with us.
5. Some versions of the design include a blank gravestone—which is a bit foreboding, but also a great reminder to get out there and support the people, businesses and places we love while we can. Who are you loving right now? 😍
That’s a very lovely read on the inclusion of the blank gravestone and definitely in part what I intended there. In the zine version I left a few blank ones near the end so people could fill in personal faves, or—morbid as it seems—wait and fill them in as time goes on 🥀. I hope this helps to remind people that places may close for whatever reason, but the only way to give them a fighting chance is to support the people doing things you love while you can.
My current fave would be Variety Cafe. It’s the perfect spot, with an incredible staff who are all lovely and kind. It’s just around the corner from me and I’ve really taken to spending as much time there as I can. It’s a comforting place, and as someone who doesn’t take a lot of breaks or days off during my busy season, any time I spend there feels like a little pause away from everything else. I’m very grateful for that.
This week's edition of The Localist made possible by the kind support of:
📍CityMatch / 🔺Peak Professionals Realty Inc.
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