Jenessa Williams calls for more independents in the city's landmark shopping development
It’s hard to believe that the glass-domed behemoth that is Trinity Leeds has only been in our lives for five years. I was a student at the time, and remember its development well. A no-brainer for a city the size of Leeds, it surprised me that it hadn’t happened sooner, this hub of new employment that boasted 120 shops, 68 brands new to the city and a total of 120m visitors through its doors to date.
Costing £350m to develop and the size of thirteen football pitches, there is no denying to anybody that has stepped inside Leeds Trinity that is a feat of impressive architecture. Come rain or shine, the ceiling allows even the most serious of shopper to feel connected with the outside, its offshoots feeding into the wider city centre in a way that feels surprisingly natural.
With brands such as Topshop, Urban Outfitters and Marks & Spencer now instrumental to the way we shop, it has paved the way for the more luxurious Victoria Gate, and has kept breathing distance from the quirkier, more independently focused Thortons Arcade. There’s also a wealth of entertainment – the luscious rooftop bars of Angelica and The Alchemist, and the cinematic comfort of the Everyman.
To safeguard its future, Trinity needs to look inwards.
Despite all of its plaudits, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Leeds Trinity. The high-street culture of shopping has changed exponentially over the past five years – we’ve lost American Apparel, BHS and New Look are struggling nationwide despite opening a new glossy store in BHS’s place. As the media place more emphasis on ethical shopping and the rejection of fast-fashion, it isn’t difficult to imagine some of the other brands that may fall by the wayside. With rents rocketing, newer brands (the ones that tend to be the most ethical) may be held-off from settling in a place like Trinity, depriving the fashion-savvy of new-up-and-comers and sending them fleeing to nearby Manchester instead.
To safeguard its future, Trinity needs to look inwards. With such a high degree of local talent coming out of Leeds universities (as exhibited with the recent international festival), it would be great to see some kind of permanent celebration of the city’s young designers.
A revolving marketplace in the space that the festival utilised opposite Superdry would work perfectly, or else a broader degree of small-business focused events on the shop concourse. It would be great to see them work with vintage retailers too; where cities such as Reading and Manchester champion their second-hand brands within their shopping centres, ours are left to languish on the fringes of the city. Although we love our independents in Leeds, there is the danger of them getting left behind without funding or proximity to heavy footfall. With five years at the top of their game, we wish Trinity the best for many more to come. But as leaders in our community, their best hope of flourishing is to embed themselves even further into the community, and lift up the little guys – because variety really is the spice of life.
5 brands we wish would come to Leeds
Monki – Younger sister of the H&M group, our pals in Manchester have just their new swanky store (see article) and we’re jealous. Very jealous. Come to Leeds soon please.
Flying Tiger – Speculation has been rife about a flying tiger in Leeds for months, but it has yet to come to fruition. Where else are we going to buy our novelty pens and quirky-ikea-a-likes?
Beyond Retro– The big daddy of vintage chains, the introduction of Beyond Retro to Leeds Trinity would hopefully allow shoppers to realise that secondhand is the future. In the meantime, we at least have Blue Rinse and Pop Boutique flying the flag.
People Tree – Whilst they currently stock in John Lewis, we’d love to see a full on People Tree shopping experience. Regularly awarded for their innovative dedication to sustainability, they herald a new wave of garment production that could take Trinity into the future.
WholeFoods – We joke, but it could be the answer to some serious food packaging woes. And there is already seven stores being trialled in London. Let’s get that good stuff up North…