York Fashion Week debuted in 2018 as a way to showcase the creative talents of York’s community, as well as inviting in fashion from all over the UK. It spans the length of the city, taking over venues big and small, coordinating workshops, runway shows and activities for both residents and visitors of York.
Having been postponed in 2020, previous years have featured bridal events, live mannequin shop window displays and talks from top fashion designers, as well as famous high street brands. It is encapsulated as ‘eight days to celebrate creative designers, elaborate fashions, thriving high street brands and exciting independent brands and businesses… a dynamic range of events including runway shows, workshops, beauty evenings, and more’ by Visit York, York’s tourism board.
Why is York Fashion Week important for York’s community?
Pulling in tourists from all over the UK, York Fashion Week boosts the city’s economy. Taking place in March – right between Christmas and summer – it skilfully manufactures a hustle and bustle in what could have been a dead-spot for tourism. Restaurants are booked up weeks in advance and hotels are full for the whole duration of the festival – and that’s just the ones that haven’t already been taken over as an official venue. These venues range from long established sophistication, like The Grand and The Principal Hotels, to fresh new innovative places such as York’s shipping-container-town Spark. Filled right up to capacity, making use of these fantastic locations is a win win – a place to house exciting events for the festival and a flourish of new traffic for York’s businesses.
What are the opportunities for York’s community to get involved?
Adverts for local photographers, videographers and film-makers are rolled out in November of the preceding year. These creatives are always needed to capture the events of YFW as they unfold, immortalising them and creating promotional material to use in following years. Using a local hub of talent not only gives the festival a homely, family feel, but provides experience and exposure for creatives from the community, showcasing individual work and collectively raising the profile of the talent York has to offer.
It isn’t just those behind the scenes that benefit from the fashion week. Open to people of all ages, shapes and sizes, YFW looks to recruit people from the local community as models. With a choice of runway, shop window or photographic modelling, there is something for everyone, with the more diverse your look, the better. Providing an opportunity for designers within the community to show their own work, the festival opens up doors. Local designs sit beautifully alongside those by high-end designers and high street stores. The potential – and excitement – is massive, with thousands flocking to the city to catch a glimpse of inspiring new styles.
The event brings together the area’s best hair and makeup talent, allowing their work to be photographed and strutted alongside gorgeous garments. Sonia Scofield, Head of Hair and Makeup at York Fashion Week says “I love the way that make-up can enhance natural beauty and make you look the very best version of yourself”. She’s been a central part of YFW since its beginning and knows well the exposure it provides means local talent is noticed by esteemed members of the fashion industry, potentially leading to further jobs, and the talent of the creatives involved means the festival is a roaring success.
Covid can’t cancel community
The rise of COVID-19 postponed York Fashion Week in 2020, but rather than cower away, YFW adapted beautifully, transforming into yet another way to support York’s local community. Search for the YFW official website and you’ll find a catalogue of local business, offering advertising space in the categories of ‘Shops & Retailers’, ‘Bars & Restaurants’, ‘Venues & Hotels’ and ‘Creatives’. This adaptation of the website acts much in the same way as the official venues have in previous years – by showcasing the incredible flair and talent York has to offer – but in a graceful and innovative new way. The event may have been cancelled, but the show can certainly go on.