There’s a major new fashion event coming to town, bringing together big High Street names and independents. Stephanie Smith reports. @yorkshirefashQ
The centre of Leeds will become a huge fashion showcase in April as part of a must-experience week-long festival of celebrations and cultural events.
The Leeds International Festival takes place from April 22 to 29, and a highlight will be The Fashion Space on Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd, when Briggate becomes a forum for fashion, with shows every half hour, curated by some of the city’s biggest High Street names, alongside much loved independent retailers and talented fashion students.
The event is being organised by Fashion In Leeds, which says Briggate will be “transformed into the North’s biggest fashion hub”. The Fashion Space will be created from reused shipping containers, highlighting fashion’s relationship with sustainability. Both the shows and backstage preparations within will be visible from the outside, for that access-all-areas edge.
Backstage will be co-ordinated by a collective of hair salons and make-up brands in Leeds, with support from Sally hair and beauty store.
It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Leeds as home of one of the UK’s most varied and vibrant fashion scenes, especially since the opening of Victoria Gate shopping centre and John Lewis last year, joining the Victoria Quarter, Harvey Nichols and Trinity Leeds as prestigious shopping destinations.
The city’s independent fashion sector is also one of the country’s most exciting, from the standout designs of ethical brand Bo Carter to the Corn Exchange and pioneering retailers such as Accent.
There will be a series of fashion-related events. On Monday, April 24, there will be a screening of the documentary Sole Searching in South America. After a tip-off about a store stacked high with vintage Adidas products, creative consultant Gary Aspden flew to Buenos Aires with Adidas enthusiasts, a trip documented in two films. There will be a Q&A with Gary and host James Brown, founder of Loaded magazine.
On Tuesday, April 25, British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn and a panel of key industry experts will discuss sustainability in fashion, while on Friday, April 28, The Changing Face of Fashion talk will see fashion editor Claudia Croft, a graduate of the University of Leeds, and John Vial, global influencer for Revlon, discuss topics including how fashion shows are evolving, the role of London Fashion Week, menswear and the future of fashion.
Leeds International Festival will be a new event celebrating music, moving image and technology, alongside fashion and food. There will be performances from international stars, film screenings, exhibitions and workshops.
Launched last year, Fashion in Leeds is a new strategy for the fashion sector in the city, funded by Leeds BID along with partners Trinity Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds College of Art and Leeds City Council, with overall creative direction from Hebe Works.
So far, Fashion in Leeds has launched a feature length film, a television advertising campaign and a new online directory for fashion industry professionals and students in Leeds.
The organisation aims to help maximise the exposure of brands in the city and challenge the perception that being based in London is a prerequisite to being at the cutting edge of the UK’s fashion industry.
Members can create profiles that can be searched by name or specialist skill, encouraging networking and collaborations across the city.
More events will be announced in the weeks leading up to the festival, and a full schedule and tickets will be available through leedsinternationalfestival.com, launching this week.