‘Manchester has no barriers’: Fashion discussed by industry leaders in Art of Style evening

The Harvey Nichols Art of Style evening saw some of the biggest names in Manchester’s creative fashion scene join together for a unique discussion.

Amongst those was John Schofield, head of Strategic Fashion Projects at Harvey Nichols, who spoke to MM about his love of fashion, and how Manchester is a hotbed of style.

He said that his love of fashion originated from his time working at Kendals as a ‘Saturday boy’ and that it is something that is ‘in’ him – despite a near brush with studying geography before getting his first full-time job at Harrods.

“After London, Manchester is the centre of fashion, style, art and architecture,” he said.

“The great thing about Manchester is that it has no barriers, it is very open to most things.

“It has a great clubbing and party scene.”

During the debate, Mr Schofield was joined by colleagues such as Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester City Galleries and Dan Blake and Wendy Elsmore, co-founders of the newly opened London College of Style (LCS) in Manchester.

Between them, the industry leaders debated the definition of what style entails, the future of the fashion industry and style icons, with Marilyn Monroe, Julianne Moore and Kate Moss amongst those named.

“Style is a very hard word to define,” Mr Schofield said.

“It’s about people. Immaculate, elegance, poise and originality.

“Style is timeless, it transcends generations, and only in retrospect can you see who’s stylish.

“To me, fashion says a lot about a person and the inner self. It is important because it translates the inside you externally.”

Mr Schofield went on to outline key areas which affect the fashion industry and consumers’ shopping habits, such as body image issues.

He said: “Sizing is a big issue. We have to get to grips with people getting bigger.

“People are getting thinner to, it’s both ends of the scale we are trying to accommodate.

“We want to satisfy that demand.”

Ms Elsmore supported this point of view, responding by exclaiming ‘thank goodness, about time guys.’

She said: “There is nothing more disheartening than walking into a store and finding nothing fits.

“It’s a tricky thing knowing what your style is.

“It is different to all people. It’s about authenticity and being true to you. It has to shine out from you.

“Where would the world be without people who break every rule in the book and still look amazing?”

Mr Blake supported his colleague, stating his belief that ‘fashions fade, style is timeless’, whilst Ms Balshaw added that style has ‘a sense of effortlessness’.

The Art of Style has been held throughout September in Harvey Nichols stores across the country, with further debates, events and style workshops before the month’s end.

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