MANCHESTER used to be known as ‘Cottonopolis’ due to the city’s control of the global cotton industry – with over 80% of the world trade passing through the Royal Exchange, the world’s largest cotton trading centre.
The black smoke that coated the city during the nineteenth century fanned from its many great factories and cotton mills.
Manchester as a city continued to excel in fashion and became a melting pot for young designers and a breeding ground for fashion innovation.
Towards the early 1990’s, one Manchester warehouse in particular triggered a revolution of iconic style among the city. ‘The Hacienda’ became the epicentre of the music and fashion scenes, coining the new ‘Madchester’ image. This was created from second hand finds from the unique, shining jewel of the Northern Quarter’s Affleck’s Palace.
Since then, this has become a magnet for those seeking out exclusive clothes and accessories that you can’t source anywhere else. Rough cut denim, baggy T-shirts and trainers set off a casual style revolution which helped to coin the phrase ‘Madchester’ along with attracting attention which ultimately helped the city flourish financially.
The Northern Quarter is often described as the ‘fashionable bohemian’ area of the city and is considered to be the beating heart of Manchester’s creative personality. You only need to stumble upon the winding streets, which are littered with vibrant artwork and independent boutiques selling eclectic fashion to realise this trend haven is worlds away from the central retail district.
The fashion medley on the streets of Manchester proves how the independent industry is thriving, but it is clear the region’s digital industry is also growing at a tremendous pace. If it was a competition for who is the most deserving fashion capital of the UK, London would definitely spring to people’s minds; however, besides from ‘the big smoke’, a fashion revolution is taking place right here in Manchester. The online commercial boom in Manchester has resulted in a staggering rise in business in the city. It is undeniable that Manchester is giving London a run for its money as it leads the way with a city full of online fashion entrepreneurs.
One of these powerhouses is Boohoo.com. Boohoo’s journey began on the Northern Quarter’s Dale Street as a wholesale business called Pinstripe, but quickly developed its reputation as an affordable, trend-led company. With eye-watering annual figures, it is clear that this fashion retailer is reaping the monetary awards.
Missguided.com is another online fashion brand that is at the top of their game, recently moving to their new multi-million-pound headquarters in Salford. A HQ kitted out with their own selfie tunnel, swinging meeting rooms and helipad!
Although the company has only been around for six years, it continues to lead the way with the help of ‘it-girls’ Pia Mia, Jordyn Woods (Kylie Jenners BFF) and female boss Nicole Scherzinger, who each have their own range.
Alice Doherty, Merchandiser at Missguided, believes that Manchester presents a threat to London in the fashion industry:
“The North West and the fashion scene has always been thriving but I think more so in recent years. Internet shopping is now the way forward, meaning there’s no need to go to your local high street. We’re all guilty of watching Made in Chelsea with numerous tabs open, refreshing the ‘new in’ icon repeatedly – before you know it you’ve spent your entire wage just sitting on the sofa. Missguided is so lucky to be based here in Manchester and I definitely think such an influential company’s puts Manchester on the map. If I think back to when I graduated, everyone told me that if I wanted to pursue a career in fashion I would have to move to London to succeed – this thought really scared me. All as I can say is I’m so thankful for the developing Manchester fashion scene which has meant I can pursue my career regardless of location because I think Manchester is where it’s at”.
Prettylittlething.com, based in a former mill in Ancoats, boasts 65 employed staff and has been a huge success due to customer’s obsession with celebrity style.
From dispatching 20 packages a week three years ago to now shipping over 20,000 parcels worldwide each day, it is clear Manchester is no hindrance for this leading fashion retailer. Owner, Umar Kamani, son to businessman behind Boohoo.com, ventured out to adhere to increasing demands of the fashion industry. Celebrities such as Jessie J, Rita Ora and Christina Milian have all worn Pretty Little Thing creations.
Manchester’s reputation continues to grow in the fashion circles.
The trendy vibe of the city and faultless garments produced by the local fashion brands provide no excuse as to why Manchester should be denied the opportunity to become the fashion capital in the near future, as it is clear it does not get the recognition it deserves.