As well as having a truly fabulous array of High Street names, Birmingham City Centre has a fabulous selection of independent stores that sell everything from clothes and shoes, to succulent sweeties and food. On Thursday night, as part of ‘retail independents week’, The beautiful Great Western Arcade was transformed into an indoor garden for ‘Celebration of the Independents’, a fashion show and soiree, organised by Retail Birmingham, which showcased the best of Brum’s independent companies.
The Grade 2 listed shopping arcade, one of Birmingham’s treasures was transformed into an indoor secret garden with a green carpet, bunting and topiary, and living statues that provided surprises for one or two people. A luxury drinks reception of peach Bellinis, cupcakes and canapes went down a storm, showcasing the talents of the 90 day Cafe, Anderson and Hill, the Victoria restaurant, and Bitters ‘n’ twisted venues. There were also sweet treats provided by one of my favourite independents , Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe (how I love old school sweeties in paper bags!).
The show itself provided the 300 guests with a clear picture of the best fashion and beauty on offer in Birmingham’s independent gems. It featured some of the best independent fashion retailers in the city including Disorder, Breina, Autograph, Atoo, Aspecto, Prowler, Onu, Beadesaurus, Wysteria Lane, Silk Step, Sims Footwear, Sonique and Norton & Townsend. The fantastically dramatic hair styling was provided by award-winning Benjamin Ryan Hair & Beauty. The show featured scenes from the Mad Hatter’s tea party and Pimms on the lawn as it bought a real touch of summer to the second city.
With the High street struggling due to the recession, and independent stores facing more difficulties in a tough financial climate, this show was the perfect showcase for why we really need to support the independents stores bringing something new and exciting to our towns and cities.