Once stable, steady names are now being forced to close down branches and even, in the case of Luella, their entire brand.
Being out and about in Manchester on a regular basis, I can’t help but think what the future will hold for fashion brands and how they will evolve to combat the current situation we’ve found ourselves in. Even now, as I write this, there is a large group of people just outside the office protesting that the ‘workers should not have to suffer for the bankers mistake’ complete with placards and police escorts.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel as along with dwindling funds there has come a new lease of creativity and a want to look after local businesses within the retail market.
One of the prime examples of this is The General Store, Deansgate current competition, ‘Brands of Manchester’. This gives clothing brands based in Manchester a chance to be stocked in-store for 3 months at a time in a prime retail location. This ongoing competition offers a great platform for local emerging brands.
The traditional springboard for new talent and emerging brands has always been Affleck’s Palace – recently renamed - Afflecks. Located in the City Centre it is a prime location with a bounty of retail spaces for smaller brands not ready, or not able, to take the plunge with their own all singing all dancing retail unit.
Me and Yu, one of Affleck’s veteran sellers, have recently been snapped up by River Island and their wares are now available in selected stores across the UK. This is a perfect example of what can happen when smaller brands are given the platform and opportunity to showcase their work.
I think larger, more popular high street retailers should follow suit and create similar schemes and support local, fledgling brands, creating portals into the retail market with minimal cost to both parties. Who knows, we could get lucky and discover the next big thing…
Clare Potts, Manchester Fashion Network