The wait is over as Victoria Gate finally opens this week. Stephanie Smith looks at the most-wanted brands making their Yorkshire debut.
Be careful what you wish for.
We wanted Anthropologie. We longed for Cos. We yearned for & Other Stories. And now, this Thursday, we get them, when they open in the new Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds. Fashion heaven has well and truly arrived, and it’s not even Christmas.
These seriously, gloriously, stylish stores are all new to Yorkshire.
Anthropologie is a destination for those seeking something out of the ordinary, and there is always something to intrigue, delight in its womenswear and home ranges.
Founded in 1992 in Pennsylvania and part of the brand family that includes Urban Outfitters, it works with artists, and its buyers and designers travel the world to uncover special pieces in clothing, accessories, beauty, found objects, gifts and homewares.
Anthropologie stores are works of art in themselves, with specially created art installations. “We are so excited to open in Leeds,” said managing director Gisela Garcia Escuela. “This is our first store in the North of England. We feel that Leeds is an exciting hub with a very artistic and creative soul. The city also has many independent businesses and a great balance of art and commerce.”
The British customer, said Gill McCulloch, womenswear senior buyer, is playful and expressive. “She experiments with colour and print, mixing designer labels with High Street finds. ”
There are two key looks for autumn/winter. “One is for the wanderer and romantic at heart, who loves things to be feminine with a bohemian touch. For the more casual girl, there are high-waisted jeans with wide slouchy legs and western detailed shirts, all capturing the ‘borrowed from the boys’ look.
“The other key look for the season focuses on the quirkier customer who isn’t afraid of mixing different prints and patterns and is looking for an outfit which can take her from day to night,” Gill said.
Cos also opens its first standalone store in North of England at Victoria Gate. A go-to for those who want pared-back, considered design that works with their whole life, it was launched in 2007 by its Swedish parent company the H&M Group. Cos stands for Collection of Style.
“Our philosophy has remained the same,” says creative director Karin Gustafsson. “We have always aimed to offer an inspiring collection, comprised of wardrobe staples alongside reinvented classics.
“Timeless, modern, tactile and functional design. We hope and believe that everything we do incorporates these factors, from our collections to our store environments and events.
“Staying strong to our aesthetic is key in this changeable industry and is something we are renowned for. We prefer to focus on style over trends.”
Also debuting is Cos stablemate & Other Stories, which each year invites selected designers to co-create collections to work with its own range. Collaborators include Rodarte, Ada Kokosar, Sadie Williams, Faux real and Claire Vivier,
& Other Stories launched in 2013 simultaneously in London, Berlin and Copenhagen, presenting styles ranging from masculine tailoring to feminine chic, with attention to detail at an affordable price a key inspiration. It specialises in top-to-toe dressing, offering shoes, bags, jewellery, lingerie and beauty.
And there’s more. As well as Leeds’s first John Lewis, Gant will also open in Victoria Gate, as will heritage fashion house Ghost, young creative menswear brand Diverso, and lingerie shop Honey Birdette. Plus Cath Kidston, Neom Organics, Hackett, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and more, more, more.
Shopping heaven indeed. As I said, be careful what you wish for.
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