Get your clothes on!

Ready, set, go - one of the biggest fashion events on the UK calendar has chosen Liverpool for its new home
Fashion passion brings Britain’s top show to city By Dawn Collinson THE biggest fashion event outside London Fashion Week is on its way to Liverpool in July and organisers have revealed it’s thanks to the city’s unique passion for style. When they were looking to move the rebranded former Clothes Show Live event from Birmingham’s NEC to a new home, Liverpool’s fashion credentials – as well as its iconic venues – made it the frontrunner. And Caryn Franklin, one of the team who helped create the show 28 years ago, remembered just how much the city rallied behind the record breaking Very Big Catwalk two summers ago. “When I did my bit on stage at the Pier Head encouraging people to help us smash the world record I was knocked out by the enthusiasm,” she says. “It made total sense to come to Liverpool when we were thinking about rebranding and taking what we’ve built over the last 28 years in a slightly different direction.
Caryn Franklin
“The NEC did us proud but we wanted to move somewhere we could encourage people to curate their own experience so they might choose different elements to visit. What we really wanted was to bring in much more sensuality, more experience, light and shade, beauty and elegance, and the venues in Liverpool allow us to do that.” This year’s British Style Collective, from July 7-9, will centre around St George’s Hall, the Echo Arena and Exhibition Centre. The Baltic Triangle will host a new Creative Hub aimed at students wanting to get into the fashion industry, while the Albert Dock will be taken over by Fine Tuned Festival, curated by designer Wayne Hemingway and paying homage to vintage fashion and style. There will be celebrity guests too, with Vogue Williams, Kimberley Walsh and Mollie King taking turns to host a Rock The Runway fashion-meets-music spectacle at the specially created Alcatel Fashion Arena in the Echo Arena, in association with Glamour magazine and Capital FM. The Shopping Halls at the Exhibition Centre will become home to over 200 high street, Instagram, beauty and skin care brands, along with River Island Style Studio experts. Caryn will be focused on the Creative Hub which she says will feature some of the most influential names from huge national brands. “They’re really keen to come and help enthuse people about how they might work in fashion,” she explains. “Everybody thinks about designers when they think about fashion, but there’s so many aspects which need to grow alongside design. It’s our job to help young creatives see where they can apply their skills.” Now an MBE for her services to diversity in the industry, Caryn says not a day goes by without someone telling her how much they loved The Clothes Show, which she fronted on BBC for 12 years in the 80s and 90s. “It was very much of its time, but the budgets were big which allowed us to look at fashion with the depth it needed. Now there’s a lot less budget and people go more for the obvious moment, which is the makeover reveal. “I’ve always been interested in identity, self-esteem and engaging with fashion as a vehicle to say something about ourselves and to talk to other people using our appearance. That’s what I notice about Liverpool women – the fact they bring fashion into their lives on their terms. I find the feistiness and the strength of Liverpool women really really appealing and I loved seeing how they use fashion because everybody should feel free to express themselves how they want to.”