Almond, Kevin (2014) Made in Yorkshire: Harnessing the Zeitgist. Catwalk: The Journal of Fashion, Beauty and Style, 3 (1). pp. 1-24. ISSN 2045 2349

A meeting at The Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK in March 2012, inspired this research. It was initiated by Rita Britton, the outspoken owner of the independent fashion boutique Pollyanna, based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. During conversations with the fashion journalist Colin McDowell and with Bill Skidmore, the president of the Huddersfield Textile Society, Britton spoke of her vision of creating a fashion label that combined the use of Yorkshire heritage fabrics with cutting-edge, contemporary design. The range would be designed, produced and marketed in the Yorkshire region, capitalising on the manufacturing and design skills within the county. The intention of the endeavour is to put the concept of a ‘Made in Yorkshire’ brand on the global fashion map. According to Veronica Manlow, an expert of fashion branding, ‘Cultural branding is seen as the most effective means by which brands can be infused with enduring meanings that enable them to become icons.’ This article explores this idea by assessing the viability for creating a fashion brand beyond the confines of a major fashion city that can be both meaningful and economically feasible. As fashion has become a globalised industry the established fashion powers of New York, London, Milan and Paris have been joined by cities such as Shanghai, Los Angeles, Copenhagen and Melbourne. However, there has been little expansion of fashion hubs beyond the nucleus of major cities. Although many designers and consumers of fashion products exist in smaller provincial areas, urban giants overshadow them. Regional centres often lack the sophistication and financial incentives of cosmopolitan municipals, and fashion designers located in them have to tap into different cultures and traditions in order to be inspired. Fashion perpetually attempts to harness the zeitgeist or the ‘spirit of the times,’ which is centred in a general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, or political climate. In-depth qualitative investigations through questionnaires and interviews unearthed much of the history and culture of fashion in Yorkshire and reveals how the county responds to and creates its own ‘spirit of the times.’

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