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Fabulous Fashion from Fantastic High Street Brands

What Fantastic High Street Brands are worth buying this year?

Leeds was recently home to a huge fashion show with a difference. Instead of showing major fashion houses, the show featured high street stores. Professional models walked the catwalk for half an hour at a time, showing some of the most loved high street brands in the country, but also from talented students and independent designers.

Leeds has recently held a major fashion show with a difference. On the first day of the show, they featured independent designers. This included James Steward (red carpet designer), Bo Carter (ethical brand), Fabrication (a Leeds collective), and Studio805 (menswear). After this, the show featured some of the major high street brands known and loved across the country. This included Bravissimo, Yours, Bonmarche, Next, Primary, John Lewis, M&S, River Island, and House of Fraser. The University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, and Leeds College of Art were all featured as well.

The show took place in the Fashion Space, created by placing shipping containers in a huge pedestrian street. The focus was strongly on sustainability, a relationship that was also highlighted through the shipping containers. The show, as well as the backstage preparations, were all visible from any direction. Unsurprisingly, the area was quickly and, seemingly, permanently occupied by shoppers and local people, wanting to take a look at how the models walk, and how they are prepared by the catwalk team.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, people could enjoy the show from 11am, when further independent designers were showcased. They then gave room to known brands, including Ann Summers/Honey Birdette, Charles Tyrwhitt, Ghost/Hawes & Curtis, Oliver Sweeney, Accent, Joules, The White Company, Hobbs, Jigsaw, French Connection, Jack Wills, and Levi’s. During all the shows, Hob and Sassoon joined together in order to create the hair looks. All hair and make up products were supported by Sally Hair and Beauty.

The Fashion Space itself is part of something much larger, which is often seen in Leeds. This time, it is part of the Leeds International Festival, which started on April 22nd and is currently in fully swing. Other fashion elements will continue to run until the end of the festival, which is on April 29th. One thing many people are particularly looking forward to is the guest speeches by people like Claudia Croft, James Brown, Gary Aspden, Katie Eary, Lulu Kennedy MBE, and Christopher Raeburn. Those who wish to hear the speaker will have to book tickets, although those tickets are 100% free.

Bonmarche gathered particular interest during the show, due to the fact that they are the only brand that targets older women in particular. The store’s average customer age is 65 and, while they have been trying to lower that, their ideal customer is a woman in her 50s. That said, Bonmarche recently hired a new CEO who has great plans to address its main challenges, not in the lest the huge plummeting in sales and profits that was experienced last year, blamed on the weather.

The weather, it seems, did behave itself during the festival so far. While it is quite cold, some would say unseasonably so, it is also sunny and people are enjoying being out. But the most important thing is that it enables people to be part of something that is usually reserved for the rich and famous: real fashion shows. And the fact that it is so up close and personal, with such a strong focus on sustainability, make this an absolutely wonderful event.

A representative from Bonmarch says: “We were so excited to have been chosen to play a part in the Fashion Space project! It is a great way to show who were are after a new leadership team, and to show that we are ready for anything.”

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