Q&A: Made in…Leeds

With the arrival of Trinity Leeds came the Made in Leeds pop-up store. Supporting all things local — making them a perfect fit with our ‘homegrown’ content this week — we chatted to Shang-Ting Peng from Made in Leeds, to discover more about the boutique and hear her thoughts on the local fashion scene.


What was the turning point that made you launch Made in Leeds in 2012?
“This project came around about 3 years ago when Hebe Media took a bunch of Leeds designers, musicians and marketeers to Barcelona hoping to exchange the culture within these two cities, and we made a splash in this Creative Encounter project. We realised promoting Leeds’ talent is something we were keen to do once we had the source and when the timing was good. Then, Trinity Leeds (also one of our clients) started building. Obviously, we are big champions of local business, always promoting local Leeds labels to bigger brands and stores. It turned out it would take much longer for the big brands to understand the value of helping the locals before the opening of Trinity so we thought, if no one’s doing it, then we will. With Trinity Leeds’ help, we opened a pop-up store stocking only Leeds art, music and design!”

Do you think enough is being done to support young talent?
“There’s always more everyone could do. I’m originally from Taiwan, and before coming to Leeds I studied in Barcelona. I think in some ways, Leeds is a self-made city; many of us are just figuring out how to do things ourselves, but at the same time, this is a great way to stimulate creativity. Hebe Media is a team formed by 4 young people, 3 of them Leeds born-and-bred. We started our client base four years ago, when we’d all pretty much just graduated. We soon realised we wanted to create, not follow. Four years later, not only have we built a pop-up  store that’s part of a bigger idea, Made in Leeds, but we are also the people behind The City Talking newspaper. We are soon releasing a city app too, which we have been working on for the past 8 months.”

“We mostly work with young professionals. We work closely with our Made in Leeds project partner, and graphic designers for our newspaper – a young company called Rabbit Hole. We have young writers for the newspaper and website, we stock young talents in the shop… we really try the best we can to promote Leeds and work with young talents.”

What advice would you give to fashion/ design students looking to take the plunge to make and sell their own products?
“Really work on the online presence. These days, knowing marketing and communication are just as important as design. Build up the fan base online, sell online, creating interesting campaigns and think about the branding. Branding is everything. Clothing should not just be a garment, it’s a feeling you are getting when a customer is purchasing from you. Think about the brand story, what do you want your customer to feel when they wear your products. Fashion’s like art, many things you can think of probably has been done in whatever season, branding is the way to make everything you make unique.”

In your opinion, what has Leeds got that other cities don’t have?
“Leeds is very similar to many industrial cities in the UK, but I have always believed that it’s the people who are the key to making every city different, and Leeds people are very unique. I have been living in Leeds for four years now, I still can’t see enough of Leeds people. Leeds has the tough attitude, yet it is the friendliest place. It still has the old-time virtue, but the new and creativities are brewing.”

What are your 3 favourite hotspots in Leeds? They can be anywhere..bars, cafes, shops, parks…
“Granary Wharf. I lived there for an year, it’s absolutely beautiful. As a foreigner, nothing is better than how ancient the canal look, but it’s also one of the trendiest spot in town.”

“Kirkstall Abbey. It’s one of the most breathtaking structure I’ve seen in the UK. What’s better than an800 years old ruin in front of you? You get to be in it!? The atmosphere there is just unbelievable. Then, across the street you’ve got the Abbey House Museum that tells the Victorian Leeds story. You can also enjoy a cuppa and get some fresh local food in the museum cafe. It’s a whole day spot.”

“Trinity Leeds. If we’re talking about ‘hot’, how can anyone in Leeds not mention Trinity Leeds? I’m from a capital city, then I lived in Barcelona city centre for 3 years. I’d had enough that Leeds didn’t have a city centre mall, considering I can’t drive! The last 4 years were painful. Now having Trinity open until 8pm, and the bars and restaurants to 2am… Ahh, I’m finally a fish in water now.”

What has the response to the Trinity pop-up been like? And how long is it set to stay!?
“Currently it’s until 16th May, but we’re still discussing the possibility of staying longer. The online shop will continue indefinitely though. The response is wonderful, this is why I love Leeds’ people, the amount of love they have towards their city is touching. We always have people coming in interested in the project. All of the designers, artists and musicians have all attracted so many people that didn’t know about us before. We set up saying that we are helping the local talent, but they have undoubtedly helped us as well. It’s amazing to have Leeds Student interviewing us… Leeds has so many students, it’s pretty much dominated by the youngsters. You are the people we want to work with in the future!”

So, any more exciting plans for the near future?
“One of the good things of being young professionals is that we do things very spontaneously. Both the newspaper and the store were only decided on earlier this year, so you’ll never know what we’ll present to you next! The only thing firmly planned in advance at this stage is the continuation of the Made in Leeds online store. Plus, when we leave Trinity, we aim to spend more time and energy on the online campaign, in order to reach wider audience. The City Talking newspaper will be out every end of a month, with each issue having it’s own theme. The current one is the food issue…. The next one is the history issue… Stay tuned!

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