WALKING through the city centre, it is clear Manchester has its own sense of style.

With the strange outfits of the street performers on Market Street, to the proud drag queens found frequenting Canal Street’s pubs and clubs, it’s safe to say that people will wear whatever they please and feel comfortable while doing so.

The fashion found in the streets of Manchester are unlike any other, and don’t conform to the trends of the high street, rather, people have their own individual style, and don’t let the runways dictate that either.

There have always been style icons in the city, whether it is Morrissey, the Gallagher brothers, or Helen Flanagan, Manchester has always been a hub of fashion, alternative to the capital.

However, the most recent increase of the Manchester fashion scene could also be thanks to the multitude of fashion bloggers that are based in the city.

Beki Smith, a 23 year-old blogger, who runs www.smocktofrock.co.uk, a style and beauty blog, shared her views on the increase of fashion bloggers in the region, and their influence on the fashion scene.

“Bloggers are practically taking over the fashion industry when it comes to influence. They or we rather, are real people, with our own personal style, honest opinions and familiar shopping locations.”

She also added, “Readers can relate more as bloggers are normal people with normal lives, we just post about it on the Internet!”

With fashion and events coming to Manchester more and more frequently, it’s clear why bloggers are always receiving invites, with influential bloggers, such as Lily Kitten (www.lilykitten.com) and Victoria Magrath (www.inthefrow.com), who has thousands of followers on her social media accounts, and are based in the city. Their posts have familiar local backdrops, they shop in the shops you shop, and go out to the restaurants and bars you love. As a reader, it is easy to relate to and follow their style.

Other style muses are soap stars Michelle Keegan, Tina O’Brien and Samia Ghadie, along with other young actresses from shows such as Coronation Street that are filmed in the city. These young icons fill up not only the style pages of the Manchester Evening News, but also the national style magazines, ultimately placing Manchester style on the map and showcasing our local trends and fashion all over the county.

This in itself shows the growing influence our city has in the fashion world.

In her five years of living in Manchester, Beki has found the fashion choices just as varied, with her saying, “Manchester has a collective mix of unique styles, that’s what makes it so great! Everyone seems to have their own personal twist on both vintage and high street style.”

Her personal style also takes inspiration from street style found in the city centre. She said, “Sitting in the local coffee shop and people watching is the best way to style spot and see how other girls are putting together their outfits.”

She also added, “The best places to style spot are those near independent fashion shops in Manchester NQ as the style around there is a creative collective mix of old and new fashion trends.”

Getting your fashion fix in Manchester has never been easier, with the high street shops of Market Street, and the Arndale and Trafford centre shopping malls, to the high end Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, along with the array of independent clothing stores that can be found throughout the city centre. These all add to the different array of styles, as each area brings its own sense of identity.

“You can venture over to Spinningfields and find clean cut, minimalist styles, over to the heart of the city centre to find that effortlessly relaxed chic look or venture into the Northern Quarter for a quirky mix of vintage and high street,” says blogger Beki.

Afflecks Palace side entrance in Manchester
Emporium: Afflecks Palace is a one-stop shop in the city’s Northern Quarter for a wide range of fashion items

One of the main sources of independent fashion is Afflecks Palace, with over 60 stores containing clothing, tattoo shops and even barbers, it is a huge place for indie fashion and trends in the city, and can be found in the Northern Quarter. It has grown such a cult-type following, that you can now even shop online, allowing for others outside of Manchester, and the region, to shop the styles found there.

Vintage is also slowly growing in Manchester, with a number of fairs and markets opening their doors in recent years. Most notably Judy’s Vintage Fair, which travels all over the country with their vintage wares, has a number of events in Manchester throughout the year.

With fashion brands such as Missguided, Boohoo and newest kid on the block Pretty Little Thing with their roots firmly placed in Manchester, there are obvious reasons why the Fashion Industry is ever growing in the region.

Boohoo describes themselves as being “Manchester’s best kept fashion secret to one of the fastest growing international etailers” and with boohoo Boutique being designed in house, it’s not just a representation of British fashion, but also Mancunian. With brand new clothing brands setting up shop in the city, it just goes to show that Mancunian fashion is a hot topic, and that there is a gap in the market for it in the industry.

Both boohoo and Pretty Little Thing are run by different members of the same family, and just goes to show that Manchester fashion runs in people’s blood. The two brands are very different however. Pretty Little Thing, which is based in the Northern Quarter, has a completely different style to its older counterpart, boohoo, and is aimed at the fresh and fierce woman who isn’t afraid to experiment with her style.

One half of the brotherly team that runs Pretty Little Thing, and who’s father owns boohoo, Adam Kamani said to Quays News of the two companies: “Boohoo is an all encompassing fresh brand for the girl next door, whereas Pretty Little Thing is for her rebellious sister. It’s much fiercer, it’s about attitude, it’s feisty and it’s edgy,” he said.

He also added, “We’ve decided to focus on the girl who is bold and wants to be noticed.”

When it comes to influential brands in the city, Beki feels that, “Blue Rinse, Oi Polloi, Missguided & Ted Baker all have a huge impact on Manchester’s style. They each offer individual distinguishable pieces that are easily recognisable from one to the next.”

Catwalk at Manchester Fashion week in 2014
Fashion week: The three-day event is the opportunity for the city to showcase its hive of fashion talent

The fashion industry in the city is not only growing with brands. Manchester Fashion Week is taking place this month, which sets to showcase designers, both newly established, and veterans of the trade. Not only will designers get to showcase their lines, but highstreet stores too.

With big name brands such as international House of CB and Jigsaw wanting spots at Manchester Fashion Week, it just goes to show that this city is the place to see and be seen. Blogger Sally Akins (www.sallyakins.com) said on her website: “The event aims to put the city firmly back on the fashion map.”

Manchester Fashion Week organiser and editor of Lifestyle Magazine, Amanda Moss, said of the event, “As I have successfully run Liverpool Fashion Week for five years and built it up into one of the biggest fashion events for the city, I was asked several times to come to Manchester and hold a similar event. So here I am!”

On the subject of the fashion found in Manchester and the surrounding areas, Amanda said, “I am still learning about Manchester fashion and looking forward to seeing the new designs on the catwalk. I think the North West on the whole is labouring an immense creative talent, which is largely unfollowed by London and is a force to be reckoned with. Why should London get all the interest, the media needs to shift their attention to the North.”

She also added, “Fashion is diverse and adventurous and people aren’t afraid to experiment. It certainly isn’t grim up North!”

The show will also include recent graduate and local fashion designer Sammi Jones, 23 from Chorley, who will be presenting her debut womenswear collection at Manchester Fashion Week. Sammi takes inspiration for her own personal style from vintage shops such as Cow, saying, “I always find something that I go on to wear for ages.”

She also spent a lot of her teenage years in Afflecks Palace due to its alternative status. “[I] still go there occasionally if I’m looking for something a little different,” Sammi admits, and also loves local style and fashion blogger Victoria from InTheFrow.

In The Frow London-based fashion blog
Iconic: Many fashion bloggers have become a success such as university graduate Victoria Magrath with her award-winning InTheFrow

She said about taking part in the show, “I’m really excited to be showing. I think it’s a crying shame that London is considered the be all and end all of British fashion, we can do it just as well up here and I hope this event will prove it.”

Blogger Beki said of the event, “It’s the biggest opportunity to be introduced to local designers and retail brands, to instantly get a feel for their style and overall character of the brand in a social way. It’s also great for new models, bloggers and interns to have the opportunity as a stepping stone into a career.”

The show is from the creative minds behind the successful Liverpool Fashion Week, as well as Lifestyle Magazine that is soon to reach Manchester. Rachel Christie, the niece of Olympian Linford Christie, who was also briefly Miss England 2009, will take part modelling in the show.

The style in Manchester, not only inspires other Mancunians themselves, but also people in surrounding areas of the region. The vibrancy and diversity found in the fashion sense of the people of this wonderful city is undeniable. It will always be the home to people who aren’t afraid to think outside of the box and wear what shows not only Manchester, but also the world, who they are as an individual.

Manchester Fashion Week will take place on the 26th to 28th May 2015, at The Place Aparthotel.

By Nicole Blake

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