BLOG: From Cottonopolis to the Catwalk

Although Manchester is world renowned for its for culture, sports and science, it’s our city’s historical role as the original modern city in the industrial revolution that defines it.

During this pivotal time in history, Manchester’s role in the textile industry led to fabrics and clothing being made in its multiple mills and factories and exported all around the world.

Fast forward 150 years, and while much else has changed – not least our credentials as a manufacturing powerhouse – the city still retains global significance.

The city’s role as a digital and creative hub has produced an attractive ecosystem for creatives, designers and entrepreneurs. Success stories like JD, Boohoo, Pretty Green and Private White VC, have created a foundation for emerging fashion startups like Adanola, UNiK Clothing and others to thrive.

2023 presented another moment for Manchester’s thriving fashion ecosystem. Bringing craftmanship to the fore, Chanel chose the original Cottonopolis to host its prestigious Metiers d’Art event. The event showcased the artisanal skills of 600 artists who work in the luxury brand’s Metiers d’Art headquarters in Paris, with the event boosting the city’s economy by £8 million.

Looking to the future, Manchester shows no sign in slowing down in becoming a global fashion juggernaut.

Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is Britain’s second oldest design school, established in 1838 to provide design training for the garment manufacturing industry and recently hosted the university’s Graduate Showcase in NOMA.

Focussed on the theme of ‘meeting the future’, the Graduate Showcase invited friends, family and industry professionals to the show that explored sustainability, digital futures and culture.

Throughout the week, the final year student’s work has been displayed across Sadler’s Yard with events taking place in Altogether Otherwise and New Century.

Thea Holmes, student at MMU’s Manchester Fashion Institute, who showcased her work at NOMA, said: “As a stylist and creative director, I showcased my editorial work across Sadler’s Yard. It was amazing to see my work displayed in a professional setting – after staring at it for so long on my computer screen – and celebrate with so many people who helped along the way.

“Manchester’s fashion scene is only just getting started. I see it as a city with loads of opportunities for me, and others on my course, to succeed and forge a career. I have already secured two job roles next year and can’t wait to start making my mark on the city!”

Manchester’s success as a city has been built on its creative sectors, whether it is art, music, activism or technology. The city’s swagger is what has got it so far, and the next generation have shown they have what it takes to continue driving it forward.

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