Fashionista Adam Jagger has returned to Yorkshire to revitalise the Leeds fashion scene Julie Marshall meets him.
“There’s nowhere quite like it outside London”, states Adam Jagger, retail director of fashion house Lambert’s Yard which opened on Lower Briggate, Leeds, last November.
Far more than a store selling high-end fashion, it showcases the work of some of the most exciting-up- and coming young designers in the country and is rapidly becoming one of the ‘go-to’ destinations in Leeds.
Housed in the oldest timber-framed building in the city, Grade II-Listed Lambert’s House was built around 1600 and was named after a well-known local family of grocers.
Jagger has been told that a very distant relative of his used to live in the building but he’s not sure of the truth of the rumour. “It would be nice if it actually were true,” he says.
The entrance to Lambert’s Yard is surprisingly understated and it’s easy to miss the first time you visit.
Once through the door, stairs lead up from an unremarkable doorway into a bright, light and airy space with wooden floors, lots of natural light and well-ordered displays of clothing, gifts and works of art.
The interior was created by art director and designer Johnny Buttons who designed the space to be fluid and malleable with racks and shelves on wheels so they could be moved around at will.
Jagger, aged 34, has returned to his Yorkshire roots to head-up the project. He was born in York and came back last year after more than seven years working as a buyer for ASOC, Sarah Coggles and Top Man and more recently as European commercial buyer for Ralph Lauren.
He says: “ I was also a consultant for the Centre For Fashion Enterprise (CFE) in London.
“The CFE have run a successful New Fashion Pioneer Programme for more than 10 years and wanted to bring the concept to Leeds, the first time they have taken it out of the capital.
“They knew I was originally from Yorkshire so they asked me to get involved to help them deliver it.
“It’s a portal for young and emerging designers where they can get help and advice on all aspects of the fashion industry from accounting, merchandising and brand building and is run in partnership with Leeds’ City Council and Lambert’s Yard.
It lasts six months and the programme is designed to provide designers with strategic support bespoke to their business. Once they have completed the programme, six more will be chosen to take their place.
“I came up and held a consultation course and then I met the guys who own this property, says Jagger. “What they wanted was to create an independent retail concept and for independent brands to showcase their merchandise along already well-established brands.” The six young designers are Cathy Poole of CABBA, who produces handcrafted bespoke women’s garments and fabrics; Sarah Williams of Williams Handmade, a range of sculptural, timeless handbags and leather goods; Zara Mia Palmer who founded Zara Mia whose styles are based on contrasting structured shapes with draping ; Julia D’Albert of D’ALBERT a contemporary womenswear collection; and Andrew Bailey-Bannister of -Studio 805 a progressive menswear label.
“Since we opened in November we’ve been very happy with the feedback we’ve received, customers say they are pleased to see a new independent business, the like of which hasn’t been done before.
“The feeling was that Leeds had become a little bit stale and hadn’t really changed that much - now we are bringing in brands that no one has seen before.”
There’s a fair cross section of brands to choose from including Blood Brother; Humanoid, Antipodeum, Edie Mac and Wool and the Gang.
The range extends from accessible to high end with everything in between. As well as clothing, Lambert’s Yard has accessories and designer gifts from just a few pounds and Jagger is keen to point out that the store offers a full shopping experience and that the design of a product is more important than what it says on the label.
“We have customers ranging from teenagers to those in their late 60s and we cater for all styles from contemporary to classic.
“I particularly like vintage clothes and I generally adopt a more classical style but as a buyer I can’t shop for myself. I have to picture the customers in my mind and buy clothes that they want to wear”
Most of the advertising has been word of mouth but it’s clearly working, and working well.
“Lots of major brands from London have already said they want hold launches with us as we’re so unique. We’ve been told that there’s nothing like it outside London, certainly not in the north, ” says Jagger.
Jagger has been involved in the fashion industry since 1995, when, at the age of 14 he held down a Saturday job at Sarah Coggles, an independent fashion store in York. He worked his way up to become manager and for two years, on his days off, he accompanied the buyers to London to learn all he could about the fashion industry and get his foot in the door, eventually securing his first buying role with ASOS.
After seven years working in the London fashion scene he came home. “I enjoyed my time in London but I was pleased to be given the chance to come back to Yorkshire and in particular, to work in Leeds,” says Jagger. “As a youngster I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and at the beginning I sort of fell into the industry before I realised how much I loved fashion.”
Utilising the exhibition space on the second floor is key to the uniqueness of Lambert’s Yard.
Architect Andrew Holdsworth designed the space, which at present houses an urban craft exhibition, and it is here that Jagger and his team will launch new brands and showcase examples of the emerging talent from Yorkshire universities, hold fashion events, dinners and parties.