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5 reasons why the North West came to be the UK’s online fashion capital

Author: Danielle Harvey
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Who says you need to go to London to succeed in fashion?!

After studying in the small city of Preston, it never occurred to me to head to London to start my career. Instead, the dream has always been to live in Manchester. It may not sound like much to some, but over the last few years the city has really thrived and it’s all thanks to more and more fashion ecommerce businesses setting up here. Of course, that doesn’t just include Manchester, the whole of the North West is thriving with online fashion businesses eager to succeed… 

I started my career working in fashion ecommerce for two online sister companies, I learnt a lot in my 18 months there and it really opened my eyes to how many competitors small companies can be faced with and the lengths you have to go to, to stand out from the crowd. Although it’s not all bad, here are a few reasons why I think the North West has come to be the UK’s online fashion hub:

1. Following in the footsteps of success stories …

It’s no secret that the North West is home to two of the largest fashion etailers in the UK - Missguided and Boohoo.com. Following their huge success, more fashion businesses have started to pop up hoping for a slice of the North West success. There are plenty of other brands you will have heard of that are amongst the biggest brands in the North West such as Matalan, JD Williams and Shop Direct.

2. Thriving with graduates

With so many universities boasting great results in the North West, it’s no surprise that so many students are attracted to expanding their education in the north. After graduation, moving to London or somewhere afar for work may seem a scary prospect that many post-grads aren’t willing to face just yet… Therefore, getting your foot in the door in thriving cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, seems a lot less daunting. Inevitably, this can really increase a business’s chance of success with such a candidate driven market – they have the pick of the bunch.

3. Lower cost start up

Many companies have commented on how low the start-up costs of a business are in Manchester, with easy accessible office and warehouse space – more companies are inclined to hit the ground running and get started with their new venture in the hope it will sail.

4. Growth in start-up community

Since 2010, The North West Fund have invested over £153m into businesses, between £50K and £2m of that helped towards setting up digital and creative companies.  With so much financial support, there’s no wonder aspiring entrepreneurs are succeeding in growth.

I spoke with the Director of a fashion ecommerce company, who started up in Manchester. “Manchester is seen as a digital hub. When you combine that with the accessibility of factories that are based in the North West - which are cheaper for production than London, it makes Manchester a great place to start for fashion ecommerce.”

5. B2B is now B2C

Manufacturers and suppliers used by fashion ecommerce traders have given B2B companies the inspiration to take advantage of the digital accessibility for B2C sales - many of whom have now become successful fashion retailers. B2B manufacturers, in turn, have created more jobs and some healthy competition against other ecommerce start-ups.

So there you have it… 5 reasons why I think the North West has become the UK’s fashion hub! Amongst other reasons, whether you like it or not. You can’t deny that northerners aren’t a friendly bunch, you will always find a good chippy, and you have a beautiful mix of city culture and quaint countryside. So what are you waiting for?!

If you are interested in roles in the growing North West fashion industry then why not give Danielle a call on 0161 641 7392 to discuss your next career move.

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