Fashion City York

The city-wide exhibition of local talent brought fashion a little closer to home

Smith and Downes kimono designs at City Screen Cinema. Image: Rachel Paix

Smith and Downes kimono designs at City Screen Cinema. Image: Rachel Paix

Last weekend, organisers from Fashion City York took to the streets to unveil the local talent our historical city has to offer. Their annual Fashion Weekend, awaited with great anticipation, has been growing from strength to strength since its founding in 2010. From catwalk shows to exhibitions and boutique stalls to competitions, the event did not fail to appeal to the tastes of the budding fashionista. Spread over three days, it was great to see local businesses eager to get involved, ensuring lots was on offer for locals.

One of the main attractions was watching HSBC Bank transform their ground floor into a pop up Fashion Village. This offered smaller retailers, such as Jo Bagshaw Jewellery and Little Ditsy Clothing, a platform to exhibit their works. FCY hopes this is the first step in creating a permanent Fashion Village in order to promote up and coming designers who may need a helping hand climbing the financial ladder. Chair of FCY, Angela Brown, disclosed intentions to “showcase all York has to offer as a fashion city,” aiming to mark York firmly on the fashion map.

Even City Screen Cinema prepared for the weekend, from hosting a Kimono exhibition showcasing Smith and Downes designs, to screenings of the latest fashion film release, Dior and I. Likewise, fine china retailers Mulberry Hall showed their support by putting on a live window display. Models exhibited products from Paperdoll Boutique and Bang Bang hair while dining for afternoon tea. This was certainly a popular idea, Browns and Fenwicks also opted for the chance to display fashion ranges via live windows.

However, these weren’t the only stints to catch the public eye, as male jockey models entertained shoppers by running a selfie competition in the city centre. It didn’t stop there: as official sponsor Mini Cooper offered free test drives from parliament square. As a local shopper, it was great to see a diverse range of local businesses keen to support the project. Angela commented on this diversity by emphasising: “It’s  not just for fashion shops, it’s about photography, art and film.”

Live window displays across the city. Image: Fashion City York

Live window displays. Image: Fashion City York

As an ever expanding organisation with high aspirations, Fashion City York is always looking to encourage those who share similar passions to get involved. For instance, a particular focus intends to reach out to the younger community; and as part of the weekend, FCY coordinated a fashion photography competition for students at York College – with the winners work to be displayed in Attic Coffeehouse.

Overall, the weekend was a great success and many thanks is due to the FCY steering group. Speaking to Angela about the FCY organisation, she reveals it is a board of dedicated professionals from a variety of backgrounds including marketing, admin and retail. Angela emphasised that the group works well because each volunteer is able to bring their personal expertise while sharing “passion, enthusiasm and energy” for the project. Angela explained that their ultimate aim is to expand enough to establish a York Fashion Week. With a clear vision and a great support network, it can be expected that FCY will continue to grow and flourish.

When asked about how FCY differs from other projects, Angela highlighted the focus on collaboration with the community: “There’s so much richness here, it’s a really quirky, varied, mixed bag.” FCY strikes me as a project which aims to preserve authenticity in York, leaving behind an overwhelming desire for commercial success and offering an unique retail approach.

Fashion City York’s next event is scheduled for 18th September 2015 in collaboration with the September Food Festival.
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