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Manchester leads the way in online fashion
Report findings suggest the North West city will soon outperform leading locations for job growth.

By Rebecca Jackson

17 August 2016

In a new report, North West digital recruitment specialist Forward Role has explored Manchester’s influence in the digital industry.
Findings from the report show that the North, and in particular Manchester, has experienced significant growth over the past few years.
Job creation increased rapidly between 2010 and 2015 in the North West city, with predictions stating that Manchester would outperform some of the world’s top cities, including Berlin, Paris and Tokyo, for job growth over the next five years.
Manchester has already established itself as a fashion destination. Districts such as the Northern Quarter, often described as the bohemian area of the city, offer a wealth of one-off, creative fashion pieces. Stores such as Junk Shop provide sustainable fashion and collaborations with the city’s up-and-coming designers. Whereas menswear store Oi Polloi draws overnight queues through sales of rare Adidas trainers.
The fashion diversity on the streets of Manchester shows how the North West’s independent fashion industry is thriving. But there is growing evidence that the region’s digital industry is also growing at speed. There are a number of large online fashion brands choosing Manchester as their home, as opposed to London.
Boohoo.com found its feet in the city’s Northern Quarter and has gone on to become one of the biggest employers in the area.
Katie Curran, senior PR manager at Boohoo.com, says, “Boohoo.com was originally born out of a successful wholesale business called Pinstripe, which was based where our HQ is now located in the heart of the Northern Quarter. This has remained our home ever since and we are proud to be such a big employer in the area.”

She continues, “In more recent years we acquired our warehouse in Burnley, which in August 2015, saw investment and extension that delivered 270,000 additional square feet, delivering a vast amount of new job opportunities. Our business is global so the reality is we could be based anywhere, but Manchester and Burnley are our home and we intend to stay.”

With big brands like Boohoo.com and Missguided already set up, people entering the fashion industry also have access to a wide range of facilities including fashion courses from top education institutions. For example, The University of Manchester offers course in Fashion Management, Fashion Marketing and Fashion Retail among others.
Steve Thompson, managing director of Forward Role, says, “Over the past few years, Manchester has proven that it’s a vibrant city, able to stand on its own two feet and thrive. Its tremendous growth in the fashion industry proves this. Our report explores what has prompted a city that was once known as ‘Cottonopolis’ to transform into a modern hub for fashion driven by digital, where designers seeking jobs or a place to start their own brand now flock to.”
He continues, “Manchester has so much going for it; a good economy, a rich history, fantastic job prospects, and we believe great things lie ahead for the city. People and businesses with years of heritage in the sector are looking at the likes of Boohoo.com and their £600m flotation and thinking, if they can do it, why can’t we? It’s extremely exciting to be part of.”
As shoppers become more comfortable with buying clothes that they haven’t seen in person or tried on, and as it becomes easier and faster to buy and return items, online fashion sales will continue to increase every year. In February 2016, online clothing sales showed an increase of 22 per cent year-on-year, which was the biggest growth seen since June 2013.
With its connections, facilities, and big brands already established here, it’s clear to see that Manchester is carving out a digital path, tapping into a lucrative market that’s destined for further growth in the future.

This article first appeared on wwb-online.co.uk.

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