The Digital Age of Fashion
How has Manchester made a new name for itself in the fashion industry through being home to some of fashions newest and most powerful headquarters MELISSA GARLICK.
“Manchester has established itself as the hub of fashion not only in the North West, but in the UK. With a host of online retailers now established here, Manchester has gone global in terms of its reach. Fast fashion, is continuing to rise and so will the city as a whole. If the growth of these brands are anything to go by, the numbers are indicative of much bigger things to come. We can’t wait to see what the next five years brings to Manchester!” Remi Akande, Director of MCR Fashion Industry.
Over the past seven years, Manchester has changed its social and economical structure immensely. From business growth to skyscrapers, the city is going up and up.
In the Global Fashion Capital Survey, London was said to be the third most influential fashion hub on the planet – surpassed only by Paris and New York.
Manchester’s roots in the fashion industry date back all the way to the 1800s as Manchester became the face of the textile industry and was known by the nickname ‘Cottonopolis’
After an analysis into Manchester based enterprises in Parliamentary Constituencies of the United Kingdom for the Fashion Industry. Statistic show that employment within our local fashion industry reaches 2,121 in the city centre alone and makes an average turnover of £269,142.
A driving force in the city’s fashion industry is the students. Tom Bielby, 20, chose to study in Manchester and move away from his home town of Hull as he wanted to pursue his dream career in Fashion Design and Technology, which he now studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, specialising in menswear. Bielby’s course is one of 23 higher education courses available in the city centre alone.
“I only came to Manchester once before I came to University. I stayed away from London, looked at Leeds but Manchester is where I came. The course summary and the fact we get taught how to be a designer, thats why I came here”
Bielby’s decision to study in Manchester came down to the structure and responsibility his course provided, unlike other he looked at he felt MMU supported his ideas of what modern day fashion design studies are all about.
“Learning and understanding the entire design, production and advertising process…the course is great for me, I had a good feeling about it. Specialising in menswear I wasn’t really that into clothes before I started thinking about uni (points at his lime green, fluffy jacket) but I was intrigued.”
Bielby talked about his current coursework and how he was put off by the fast fashion of todays modern retailers, online brands such as BooHoo, Missguided and even ASOS say a design can go from manufacturing to being sold on the site in just two weeks.
The fast paced fashion of online sites is forcing retailers such as H&M, Topshop and Zara to produce stock at quicker rates in order to keep up with the supply and demand of ‘New In’ or ‘On Trend’ styles of the season.
The increase in demand for fashion, quicker than ever pressures other brands to respond to the buyers ever changing tastes and trends.
“We get taught about business, I had to make a full business plan last year. Its like realistically how you would set up a fashion business. They teach it so you are ready for the industry when you leave, from day one.’
Studying business and economics at college, Bielby wanted to invest time in something different at university and arrived in Manchester eager to begin the very sought after and demanding Bachelors Honours course at Manchester Metropolitan University.
With the student population in Manchester reaching estimates of 95,000 the 16-24 demographic for the target of audiences BooHoo, Misguided and other brands, the companies are generating revenue left, right and centre.
The Manchester based company BooHoo released eye-watering figures for 2017 claiming revenues of £294.6 million, up 51% from 2016.
The retailer now reaches up to 5.2 million customers worldwide after surges of US sales up 140% making revenue above market expectations for the year.
The Fashion industry here, makes it clear why students from all over Europe are choosing Manchester as their new home, over higher priced cities like London.
BooHoo also acquired a majority stake in rival Pretty Little Thing and recently bought out American company Nasty Gal, formally owned by Sophia Amoruso, which was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Manchester is a hub for online retailers to set up their HQ’s, with promising infrastructures such as Salfords media city, companies such as The Fashion Network and rising fashion stars like The Couture Club who are seeking to set up stores in London and in the US after opening with Paul Smith in the INTU Trafford Centre earlier last month.
Today, Manchester continues to sit at the core of the online fashion trade. Being host to some of the worlds most renowned online fashion houses. Headquarters ranging from BooHoo and Missguided to Pretty Little Thing and Maniere De Voir.
Rising house prices, demand for city style living and retail venues popping up all over the place, the city is quickly becoming an urban jungle of working men, women and students trying to find their place.