British Style Collective 2017: Liverpool – city of style
From 7-9 July The Clothes Show will head to Liverpool, the first time it’s taken place outside of NEC Birmingham for 27 years – and in a city so steeped in fashion and style, it seems it will be the perfect fit.
Words by Christine Toner
“Liverpool people are famous for liking clothes and fashion,” so says the world-renowned designer Vivienne Westwood, and it seems it’s an opinion that’s widely shared.
The Clothes Show is getting ready to leave it’s Birmingham home for the first time in almost three decades to bring the fashion extravaganza to a brand new city and where else could be a better match than Liverpool?
Spread across four venues the British Style Collective, presented by The Clothes Show, will see the city come to life with fashionistas, celebrities and designers over three days of events.
Speaking of the move Maryam Hamizadeh, director of exhibitions at the Haymarket Media Group which is behind the event, says: “We are thrilled to be working with Liverpool City Council to enable us to curate the new, vibrant content and format that will be current, fresh and dynamic.
“As a city that celebrates and embraces culture and arts, Liverpool not only supports fashion and diversity but encourages it, making the city the perfect destination to launch the British Style Collective.
“Liverpool people are famous for liking clothes and fashion.” – Vivienne Westwood
“The festival will be a celebration of fashion, beauty and lifestyle at its finest, giving our visitors the chance to discover bespoke brand experiences and pop ups that they will not find on the high street.”
But just what is it that makes the city so fashion focused?
“The girls here aren’t afraid of anything and if they think it looks good, they’ll go for it,” says fashion and lifestyle blogger Stephanie Bannister, founder of the popular Scouse Bird Problems blog. “There’s no waiting for magazines or catwalks to tell us it’s ‘ok’. Likewise, if they spot a trend in its infancy, they’ll be happy to run with it.
“Ask your mum and she’ll insist school, the gym, the office or whatever isn’t a catwalk, but the whole of the city is a catwalk and everyone around you is in the front row.”
But this passion for fashion isn’t anything new. Liverpool has long been recognised for its love of style. Indeed, back in 1995 celebrated fashion journalist Tamsin Blanchard claimed in an article for The Independent that Liverpool was at “the cutting edge when it comes to dressing up or down.”
And it seems the fashion forward folk of the city have Liverpool’s unrivalled relationship with music and culture to thank.
“The whole of the city is a catwalk and everyone aound you is in the front row”
Legacy of style
“Music brings fashion alive and fashion gives music a deeper dimension,” says Donna Howitt, marketing director at Liverpool ONE. “The fusing of music and fashion in a city like Liverpool creates impact not celebrated anywhere else.”
And understandably so. As the birthplace of The Beatles, the now global Cream brand and of course countless pop and indie bands, Liverpool has become known as the music capital of the UK. And whether it’s copying the style of our city’s superstars, glamming up for a night at the Philharmonic or dressing down for one of the city’s music festivals it’s clear fashion and music go hand and hand.
“The city has a confidence about it that runs deep particularly when it comes to style,” adds Donna. “We’re more likely to lead in the fashion stakes than most other places and the city’s reputation for setting trends inspires each generation moving forward. Style has very much become a part of Liverpool’s culture.”
Rich in retail
Of course, in a city where fashion is so important it’s not surprising that Liverpool’s shopping offering is also a cut above the rest.
“The retail scene in Liverpool is now up there with the best in the UK and more and more people are enjoying short breaks with shopping very much on the agenda,” says Donna. “It is very clear to see visitors to the city every weekend enjoying shopping and making a full day of it by enjoying the restaurants and bars as part of their visits too.
“It has confidence and a certain democratic style – people aren’t afraid to be brave and bold in their approach to fashion. Liverpool likes to have fun – we do dare to fuse high street and designer brands and it comes together brilliantly.”
From the big names of Liverpool ONE and the Metquarter to the quirky boutiques of Bold Street and the much loved independents based in some of the city’s suburbs, Liverpool is clearly ready and able to cater for its residents’ insatiable appetite for style.
While the city may be home to some of the biggest names in high end fashion, there is also a number of homegrown designers who have made their mark on the fashion world.
From stylist to the stars Shaun Kearney who has designed clothes for A-list names as well as working for the likes of DKNY, to the queen of the tulle skirt Kirsty Doyle, there’s no shortage coming out of the city.
Meanwhile, of course, the British Style Collective festival will see some big names in design bringing their styles to Merseyside, including the nephew of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen who will showcase his debut collection of made-to-order silk scarves during the event, and London label Sorapol.
Bring on the catwalk.
British Style Collective 2017 takes place across the city between 7-9 july.