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A Londoner’s guide to Manchester

History, music, fashion and attitude - it's got the lot

“A city that thinks a table is for dancing on”- Mark Radcliffe

There is a constant, ongoing debate in England; the North vs the South, and although I cannot speak for the whole of the North, Manchester is better than London. There I said it, and I won’t take it back. The region has been on the rise in the list of UK cities. Ignoring my bias, as someone from the north, my earlier statement, in my opinion, remains true. Now that I have had the opportunity to be a part of both cities, it has really solidified my love for Manchester and the people who reside there. People are proud to be Mancunian, there is just something about the place. I got in touch with some locals of the area to hear their opinions on what makes the city so great.

Manchester is steeped in history and has been at the forefront of the development of the UK. I remember when I was in primary school and they taught us about the industrial revolution, more specifically, the cotton trade that Manchester and other parts of the north-west were responsible for in the early 1800s to the early 1900s. As the raw materials had to be transported across the world it wasn’t very sustainable and the industry began to decline.

In 1842 the city adopted the Bee as its motif, symbolising the hard-working people of the area, this remains a true representation. The bee can be seen across the city and is a proud symbol of the locals. The Suffragette movement was also born in Manchester, the start of the fight for women’s equality. There is a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in St Peter Square, someone who was a very important figure in the organisation of the Suffragettes. To name a couple more interesting people from Manchester there is renowned artist LS Lowry, Tony Wilson- the man who owned factory records and Alan Turing. Turing wasn’t actually born in Manchester however achieved the highlights of his career while living there and secured himself as part of our history.

In more recent years it has been great to see the fashion scene flourish and develop into a thriving system of personalities and influence. Places like the Northern Quarter, that features the eccentric Affleck’s palace, an indoor market that started in 1981. Hosting independent stalls and boutiques, it has been described as “an emporium of eclecticism, a totem of indie commerce”.

Having been there myself I can confirm this is true, it is a crazy place, you can seriously lose track of time while you are in there. On the other side of the spectrum, top fast fashion brands Boohoo, Misguided and Pretty Little Thing are all based in Manchester. High fashion brands have become more and more popular with retail spaces like Flannels and Harvey Nichols experiencing great success in Spinning Fields, a contemporary and particularly stylish part of the city.

Manchester is a diverse place that caters for people of most backgrounds, “I love the fact that I can walk from China Town to the Northern Quarter in less than five minutes,” says Tolly, 20. The variety of experiences within such a small distance is what makes the city really special, you are able to travel around the world by walking a mile in each direction. “Manchester is so similar to London, just less busy and a whole lot cheaper,” says Sammy, 20.

Often lending from the deep history of music and entertainment that has come from the city, you can see the influence in people’s clothing by just walking around the streets. Like many cities, music is at the heart and soul of the people, and Manchester may have produced some of the best music in history, including the likes of Oasis, The Stone Roses and other bands that arose during the brit pop era, integrating the ‘casual’ attire from football firms and working-class people

The style has stood the test of time and ultimately created somewhat of a uniform for many of the residents, “My style is definitely inspired by the Britpop era, taking a strong influence from Mancunian culture” says Tom, 17. The style that has come through these generations of music has become synonymous with the area and there are obvious tropes that you see and say, ‘oh, that person is from Manchester’ – most likely they will be sporting a parka jacket, baggy jeans and some Adidas trainers. “You see it everywhere you walk. In shop windows, posters, billboards and within people’s outfits” says Harley, 20. It’s an iconic place, that has produced some of the UK’s most iconic people.

Affleck’s Palace, Manchester’s Northern Quarter
image courtesy: Affleck’s Manchester (instagram)

As someone trying to find their way in life, it always seemed that London has always reigned supreme when it has come to dressing. With fashion weeks being hosted in the capital and with major universities, like our own, it always seemed that the only option for a career in fashion was to relocate south. I for the most part still feel that this is true, the opportunities that are presented to young creatives are far harder to find when looking in Northern cities. The exposure to different avenues in fashion just isn’t available. There is obviously still opportunity to make a career in fashion work outside of the capital. All the same, I feel that London is the place to be if you want to study fashion.

Football has always been a hot topic within the city, the fierce rivalry between the red and blue sides is never ending. Mancunians live and breathe football; it’s become more than only the game. These people bleed red and blue. On almost any day you are walking down Market Street, the main high street in the city centre, you will see representatives from both sides sporting their team’s colours. Recently Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford has been doing a lot for the local community and has earned himself an MBE in the process. “He has become a real role model for many people in Manchester on and off the pitch,” says Sammy, 20 who is Manchester United fan. Rashford is also starting to make waves in the fashion industry, partnering with Burberry to create a campaign helping his efforts to provide free school meals for kids across the country. Rashford told Burberry: “I’ve got a lot of belief in the young people of today. I want to support them as much as I can, just believe in them and show them that the country can be better in the future”

Something about Manchester makes you proud to be from there. The people optimise what the city is all about: “proud working people,” in the words of Cameron, 20. There is an overwhelming sense of togetherness between the people. “One of my favourite things about Manchester is the identity: the walk, the accent, the whole persona. You can normally tell someone is from Manchester before you’ve even spoken to them,” says Cameron.

In my personal experience I have found that generally people up north are more welcoming and willing to talk to strangers, in London everyone is so busy being busy all the time.

I’d say Manchester is a ‘mint’ place.


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