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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Fashion's local authority
Women shopping

By Claire Heald
BBC News

In London the focus is on the catwalk, as designers unveil their new look this week. But outside the capital the UK boasts a richly vibrant fashion scene, that's as different in Cornwall as it is in Glasgow.

London Fashion Week, which finishes tomorrow, is the moment for the low-fat cream of UK designers to show what they have on offer. But just as British pop music has always had a strong regional character, the same goes for its fashion scene.

Across the UK, young people are forging their own styles that are defined not by the top of fashion, by local industry, tastes, climate and trends.

LIVERPOOL

The World Cup is just a bitter memory, but the WAGs (wives and girlfriends of England's footballers) go on. They are the force behind fashion in Liverpool, where it's about shoes, glamour and making sure everything matches.

Coleen Mcloughlin
Coleen: Croxteth's poster girl

The icon is Coleen (Mcloughlin, fiancee of Wayne); the must-have item a pair of Christian Louboutin platform pumps - or a high street copy; and the uniform for hitting city centre bars is a head-to-toe coordinated outfit.

"Liverpool women make a more glamorous effort than their southern counterparts, they love to dress up," says Liverpool designer Kirsty Doyle. "High heels are storming the streets."

In the city there is much high fashion on display, matching Missoni, Chloe and Roberto Cavalli clothes, bags and shoes. Shops, particularly shoe shops, are opening up. But the Scouse collective, she says, also hunts down High Street versions.

So it runs with their fashion heroine Coleen, a girl-next-door, known for blinging-out on high end fashion, to end up as the new face of Asda's clothing: "She's such a good representative of Liverpool. A 20-year-old from Croxteth who's done unbelievably well," says Kirsty. "Liverpool people are incredibly proud of her."

LEEDS

It contends to be the fashion capital of the north, the home to leading stores like Harvey Nichols and Vivienne Westwood. And if Leeds has a finger on the fashion pulse, the beat is towards masculine tailoring.

Kate Moss
Kate, as ever, sets the trend

On-trend maxi dresses make a floating appearance, but it is men's trousers, held up by braces, topped off with trilbies that are dominant.

"There's a lot of trilby-style hats," says Lisa Smith, a stylist working at No 15, in Leeds. "That's taken off after Kate Moss wore one."

With the return of students, she laments that the staple denim skirt has diluted the Leeds look. But the city's overall direction endures - among the androgyny, there is urban grunge along the lines of clothing brand All Saints. There's lots of grey and Vivienne-Westwood-inspired ruffles.

GLASGOW

Glasgow's thriving rock scene, influential school of art and studio/gig venues like SWG3 combine to inspire an indie-rock look in the city. The aim for men and women, says marketing man Chris Hunt, is to "go around looking like you're in a band".

Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy and Alex Kapranos
Guitar accessories may be taking things a bit far...

Local designers Christopher Kane, Niki Taylor at Olanic and jewellery name Brazen are shaping the city's look.

To wear, it is "quite cool, vintage T-shirts, skinny jeans, pointed shoes, denim jacket. What tops it off is key: "For Glasgow man, the look would be unkempt, longish hair," says Mr Hunt. "For women, quite funky hair, longish fringes, or rounded and cut off at the eyebrows."

The city has also taken the country's love of accessories, and handpicked the directional ones. "In Glasgow people who wear them always have amazing glasses, really, really cool spectacles. And for women, it's neck jewellery and scarves."

There is but one nod to the Scottish climes: "High collars. For the colder days, they're up to your jaw-line."

NEWCASTLE

The out-in-your-nightie, without tights, on cold nights, look that screams "Newcastle", will never go away, admits Stephen Pierce who owns vintage clothes shop Attica.

Legs
One trend in Newcastle is timeless

It is born out of the city lasses' love of bar hopping - going from bar to bar in minimal outfits, bearing the cold because, they reason, little time is spent in the queue and most is spent inside.

But there is more going on around the Tyne than the stereotype. The current vogue is for bright colours and pattern, mixed-up together, with clothes layered and belted. "The art is to look like you just got up and picked it off the floor and that's not as easy as it sounds," says Mr Pierce.

Women sport loud-colour pumps, leggings, skirts, under long sleeved tops, belted, and topped off with bright hair accessories. The boys are following Glasgow's skinny look - but making more of an effort with "quite tidy, asymmetrical hair".

But the braver side of fashion remains a firm part of the city, "It's unbelievable, even on the coldest nights. If somebody could design a coat you fold up and put in your bag, they'd be on to a winner."

CORNWALL

"Yeah; kind of; right; like". The language of Cornwall's surfer-wear shop assistants perfectly catches the vibe of the clothes. Easy-going, relaxed, chilled-out.

Surfers
Coastal Cornwall has no time for fast-changing trends

The seasons may change and fashions move on in the East. But in the West Country the climate is mild and faithful surfer styles run on through. "It doesn't really change," says Lisa Eddy, of Ann's Cottage, Polzeath.

On the streets and beaches of coastal towns like Newquay, the range works around hoodies, faded tees, low-slung trews, and flip flops from main surfer brands Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Animal, retain a California/Australia inspiration.

Laid back Kernow man and woman complete the ensemble with hair "like they've just got out of the sea" and flip flops, or no shoes at all.

CARDIFF

Merthyr-born designer boy and Fashion Week staple Julien Macdonald has said Welsh men had their London counterparts tackled in the style stakes. So well groomed, they looked like they'd just stepped out of a salon. Think a very buffed Gavin Henson.

Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson
Word is, the Welsh have fashion licked

In Cardiff this year, however, the look is a little less Charlotte Church and more individual. Yes there is the ballet-shoes/footless tights/tulip skirt combo seen in the rest of the UK. More prominent among Welsh trend-setters is the embroidery and embellishment on the clothes, hosiery, and accessories.

Dr Keireine Canavan of the Cardiff School of Art and Design says it may be inspired by technical developments at local accessories firm Bogarts. And it is cropping up on delicate tops, shirts, skirt edgings, and even jewellery.

Right on the edge of fashion - one forward trend is the tendency to embellish hair. Good, home-reared Welsh wool, coloured and spun, is appearing more and more as hair braids.

LERWICK, SHETLAND

At the opposite end of the country, it's no surprise that this season, and perhaps every season, Fairisle knits are dominant in Shetland. The icy blast at Lerwick is a long way from the air-con that drifts across London catwalks.

Joanne Hunter Fairisle
Ponchos were mostly last year's look in Shetland

"It's a cold climate," says Donna Smith, a partner in shop Ninian, "So there's always more emphasis on knits."

Of the colourful sweaters and scarves they produce for locals and tourists she says: "It's a creative process, using traditional materials, but giving them a contemporary twist."

Young Shetlanders have also been snapping up wool ponchos and wraps - "but not so much as last season", she says.

Jeans and windproof jackets are also mainstays of the Shetland wardrobe: "It's windy here, quite rainy, but mostly windy." Which explains why skinny jeans are abandoned for looser versions - that can stand up to the blasting from the outdoor draught.


Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

As an exiled Scouser, I miss the glam of Liverpool. We used to always get dressed up on a Saturday to go shopping, never mind going out that night! Newcastle is far more relaxed but the decent bars still have a very chic edge. The more affluent costal areas also have a large contingent of hip yummy mummies.
Amanda, Newcastle

There's no such thing as fashion any more. There hasn't been since popular culture fractured depending on location, ethnicity, musical tastes, social background etc. Now there is only style, and you've either got it or you haven't.
Bill Martin, Sheffield

In London alone, there are large numbers of different fashion tribes separated by postcode. The clothes gracing the streets of Notting Hill differ wildly from the dominant styles in Chelsea, and Barnet and Brixton are on different sartorial planets - I love it!
Chandra, London, England

In Runcorn the shell-suit, white-trainer combo is still in vogue. It's everyone - men, women and even small children. It's like the last 15 years haven't happened! I don't even know a shop that sells them anymore.
Nathan, Runcorn

The ponchos aren't just for Shetland, I bought one from Ninian when I was up there on holiday last year. It's going to come in handy this winter in Manchester that's for sure!
Margaret, Manchester

When we're going out the biggest headache my missus has is "What to wear?" takes ages to decide, longer to get ready and then most of night spent "wishing I hadn't put this on". The one thing she never has any qualms about is on getting home - shoes off instantly and ditto getting into comfy dressing gown. So there you are the eternal, international fashion icon.
Jeff, Burnley

There's a lot of Indian inspiration in Leicester. Beaded slippers and bangles look fantastic with jeans and a simple top. Feminine, comfortable, cheap and cheerful.
Joanna, Leicester

Having lived in Orkney (not far from Shetland) and grown up in Cornwall, I can vouch for the windiness up in the Isles and the effect it has on fashion. The surf look in Cornwall will never go away and has the added advantage of being more comfortable to wear than high heels and mini-dresses.
Emma, The Hague

I love the laid back attitude to clothing in Cornwall, people always look great in a really effortless way. Elsewhere in the UK there's so much pressure to wear "of the moment" fashions that will be out of date within a couple of months of purchase!
Helen, Cornwall

A big trend in Cornwall and Devon are "Crocs" shoes, the shops are full of them and everyone's wearing them. Back "inland" no-one seems to have heard of them!
Sue Beverley, Brackley

It's not just the Geordie lasses who like to show they can stand the cold: it's the same in Aberdeen, Dundee and even here in York, and has been for years. It's an East Coast thing: I put it down to the Viking inheritance!
Candy Spillard, York, UK

I can endorse Nathan's comment about fashion trends in Runcorn but have to add that the must have accessory is a meat and potato pasty.
Lorraine, Northwich

There seems to be a rash of people dressing in clothes of one extreme or another here. Tight clothes have become so tight as to restrict movement to little more than the most clamped gait. Baggy clothes have the impression of a clown wearing pyjamas. It's a wonder to behold and a splendid talking point: "Ooh look, there's another one!"
Rory, Brighton

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