Manchester has pretty much cemented itself as the fashion capital of the UK. We take a look at what it is that has made this humble northern work-horse a dominant force in the fast-fashion world. And also how the creatives within the city have continued to drive it forward with thought-provoking high-end design work and constant reinvention.
Truth be told, Manchester and fashion are a match made in heaven, well, made in Cheetham Hill, but nonetheless, it works. The fast-fashion sector which pretty much encompasses the world, check out the PLT billboards in Dubai if you don't believe us, has largely benefitted from the style and nuances of Manchester life. So here's what fashion in Manchester is responsible for.
The first advantage of calling Manchester your home as a fashion brand is the sector knowledge which can be absorbed from the city. The fashion sector mould has been broken countless times, over the past decade, and the fashion businesses of Manchester have largely been a driving force for the change.
As the world of fashion turned to cheaper, mass-manufactured versions of the catwalk alternative, much due to the success of the Zara business model, fast fashion arrived. Due to the need to design, manufacture and distribute for cheaper to keep the prices low for the consumer, Manchester seemed like a logical home. With the business rates being much lower than London, companies made a business decision to be based up north, and wow, has it worked.
Manchester also seemed like a logistical business decision due to the lack of competition. This created an exciting battle for the best talent in the sector, and living up north, in the eclectic metropolis of Manchester, swung many decisions in favour of the businesses here.
It's vital when assessing the success of Manchester as a fashion powerhouse, to not neglect the history of the city. During the industrial revolution, it was the locals who grafted like worker bees in the textile factories to power the country's materials trade. In the past few years, the rich history of Cottonopolis has made a resurgence, created thousands of jobs within the city, specific to the fashion sector.
The rise of Manchester hasn't remained unnoticed, and word of the cities cultural variance has become well known across Europe. With creative hubs dispersed across the city, there are plenty of locations you can find fashion-powerhouses and thriving textile businesses. From Cheetham Hill to Ancoats, from the Northern Quarter to Salford Quays the city centre is buzzing with life, creativity and the typically manc hard-working mentality.
As the BBC continues to grow its media footprint at Mediacity, this has also strengthened the city's stance in the fashion world. Attracting more digital creatives to live within the ever-expanding city walls and therefore building reputation and respect in the television sector along the way. Fashion and TV have a much richer and more profound relationship than initially meets the eye, which means that having both boxes thoroughly ticked is yet another string to Manchester's bow.
Gen Z Manchester
Whether you like it or not, Manchester is an incredibly Gen Z city. It's a place where everyone is accepted for being themselves, and that is more important to its identity as a fashion powerhouse than you could imagine. Fashion, at its very core, is feeling a certain way in whatever clothes you wear. It isn't draped head-to-toe in Louis Vuitton, nor is it wearing sports-casual to a birthday party. It's BOTH, and much, much, more! Fashion is feeling good; it's knowing yourself and allowing your good vibes to emanate from you to everyone around you. Therefore, in the city of forgiveness, in the place where we don't look back in anger, fashion has flourished.
Ticket to the world.If we went through any Manchester fashion blog and didn't mention a few of the companies who built a rocket to fire this city to the world, it would be sacrilege. As Manchester watched on when native Boohoo purchased American fashion monster, Nasty Gal, in 2018, the city realised that this company was something totally different. The shares soared, and the projected sales headed into a whole new universe. But that isn't where Manchester's global expansion stopped.
We've seen Pretty Little Thing combine with megastars such as Kylie Jenner to offer global market satisfaction to those hungry fast fashion purchasers. Companies such as Missguided and I Saw It First have endorsed some of the most popular reality television programmes such as Love Island. We see NBA stars and rappers wearing high-end Mancunian labels such as Represent. Whatsmore is there are countless companies still on the rise, meaning the future looks as bright as the past. With independent designers such as Val Kristopher creating brilliantly bespoke pieces of high-end clothing and selling through companies such as Selfridges.
In Manchester, we just seem to know how this fashion stuff works. It's in our veins and courses through us like blood.
Keep being you, Manchester.