Manchester's Adaptable Attitude to Fashion
Manchester has always been a kingpin of eclectic fashion. In our current financial climate it can be hard to keep in the loop, but thankfully Manchester has adapted: in this article we explore some of the growing trends that are clothing the city – without breaking the bank.
It began with vintage clothing finding the spotlight. Once upon a time, you could walk into a charity or vintage shop and pick up a distinctively unique bargain, but sadly, it was not to last. Some of the high street shops have attempted to replicate this (dare I point out the irony?) but for the majority, it was the smaller shops that lead the way. Unfortunately, as prices rose, sometimes business fell. And so a new fashion has begun to rise from the ashes: Sustainable Fashion.
The concept of sustainable fashion has been around for years. In February 2009 the government launched the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, which aimed to reduce the social inequalities and environmental footprint of fashion organisations and shops. But it is the smaller outlets that have shaped this concept by literally recycling old clothes. As one shop owner proclaimed, it is ‘retro remade’. The idea is simple; get a load of old or vintage clothes, and make new clothes out of them. Sustainable clothing covers many areas – as well as helping to cut down our environmental footprint by using eco-friendly elements and recycling, it focuses on personal fashion rather than the mass produced. It is also boosting support for independent shops, and has allowed new designers to show what they can do.
One such designer is Vanisha, who runs Vanisha’s Design Boutique on the second floor of Afflecks Palace. Dealing in handmade fashion and accessories, she uses a mixture of new, recycled and vintage materials to make her own clothes. The wonder of Vanisha’s Design Boutique lies in the fact that she can customise your own clothing however you wish in order to create your perfect piece. Her main specialist technique is cornely embroidery, which helps to produce some really unique items. Boutiques such as this not only uphold the idea of revamping and reusing, but provide a real personal service to create what you want.
Trashed Couture is a local eco fashion collection, and reworks vintage clothing as well as providing recycled, custom made pieces. Each one is made by hand and created by Manchester stylist and designer Sara Li-Chou Han. Whilst this collection is pricier, it is definitely still worth checking out!
There is, also, the option to customise clothes yourself! Stitched Up, a sustainable fashion collective, focuses on providing swap shops (where you can swap clothes) and workshops to help you ‘up cycle’ your clothes to create something new, no matter what it is! The skills that you can learn yourself can open up a whole new world.
Another shop within Afflecks is Clothing With A Conscience on the first floor. This shop sums up a similar growing interest: the ethical and fair-trade fashion. With a few local designers, Marilyn, the shop owner, has created a shop nurtured from her passion for fair trade. ‘No person producing clothes should be exploited,’ explains Marilyn, which is why she sells a mixture of fair-trade, organic and sustainable clothing. In her shop there is an array of beautiful remade dresses – up to date styles in obviously vintage materials. Alongside these you can find attractive and morally sound items from labels such as Monkee Genes, Braintree and Johari. As Marilyn makes sure to research and meet the labels before she takes them on, you can be assured that when you shop here, there has been no abuse connected to your clothing. And if you have sensitive skin, rejoice! Her organic clothes are free from toxins that can aggravate allergies.
Alongside this, Shared Earth host a similar line of fair-trade clothes, often made in places such as Nepal with good quality, natural materials. Shared Earth Clothing tends to conform to the more traditional expectations of fair-trade clothing with its loose, hippy designs.
Other designers that create personal or sustainable clothing include: Not for Ponies (hand-made fashion), Art Disco (hand screen printed tops with eco friendly inks), Wheres Me Jumper (personalised knitted jumpers), Beaumont Organic (ethically minded brand), H’Atelier (locally made extraordinary hats) and A Few Fine Things (local, handmade bags).
A lot of the independent shops and designers could do with more support, but arguably, that’s part of how it works with up and coming trends: they grow. Amongst all of the advertising and awareness, it is the choice made by each consumer that will always determine the tide that is Fashion.
It’s comforting to see that even in Manchester’s recession, not everybody has decided to wear the ‘throw-away fashion’ of Primark, but has taken instead to strike a pose in something a little more unique – whilst helping to make a positive difference.