Find contemporary and high-end style in Cheshire’s newest independent
There’s no sign of fast-fashion here in Hale.
The Basil & Bea shopping experience takes a much more leisurely pace.
The charming new boutique is based on Park Road, a stroll away from Hale village. Inside you’re met with wafts of blossom and ivory rose petals, crackling old jazz music, sophisticated etchings of nude art on clean white walls and neatly folded items, lined symmetrically on gold plated furnishings.
It’s all so satisfyingly neat. You’ll want to stay awhile.
“The core of my ethos is bringing back the traditional way of selling and creating a comfortable environment,” beams Hari Martin, Basil & Bea's vibrant owner.
“I’m not going to be annoyed if people come in to have a little dress up session and not necessarily buy – it’s about making people feel good, comfortable and not pressured to purchase. I want people to come have a cup of tea, a glass of Prosecco and talk about whatever.”
It’s 27-year-old Hari’s first bricks and motar business after working as a fashion buyer for various high-end fashion brands. A clear fashion enthusiast, she talks about clothes much like Mary Berry talks about cakes: with passion, knowledge and humour.
Like many fashion girls, Hari has succumbed to the popular Scandinavian influence in the clothes and the fit-out. Basil and Bea is cool, contemporary, sophisticated and chic with a focus on great quality clothing and, dare I say it, Instagrammable light fixtures.
“I’m not girly-girly – I don’t have anything like this my house – but as it was a blank canvas I wanted to have that Scandinavian lifestyle and loft feel. I wanted the clothes to do all the talking.”
Basil & Bea features largely premier luxe fashion brands, such as Parisian label Etre Cecil, Elizabeth and James by Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen, London outfitters Lily and Lionel and more. Extremely well curated, the Basil & Bea line-up all depends on items Hari has sourced herself - and as fashion buyers go, she’s far from trend-led.
“I’m not introducing loads of brands – it’s trial and error until I know my customer and naturally I’ll evolve. Trends will come through - I have a thing with sleeve – so there’s subconscious trends but I'm not a slave to them," she says.
To look like a polished Dane, you'll have to spend a bit. For example a simple Etre Cecile cotton slogan t-shirt can cost £80 – yet the price points shouldn’t phase an affluent Hale pocket. Does the average Hale customer enjoy Basil & Bea’s contemporary feel?
“In Hale there’s a mix of styles – but you have to have that element of glam. There’s still a football culture and there are very stylish ladies who love all of the Tanya Taylor dresses. I’ve really had to hone in on glamorous brands, but clothes have to be from brands I believe in.”
Basil & Bea is a welcome addition to Greater Manchester’s independent fashion community - a community which Hari has seen both struggle and flourish.
“Working as an agent I’ve seen independents come and go, so it’s always so nice to see more come up. It is a risk at the end of the day, I don’t know what’s going to happen but I'm willing to try.”
Optimistically, Greater Manchester’s independents appear to be experiencing a turning tide in Hale and beyond. Recently, local dressmakers The Doll's House opened a stylish new boutique on Bridge Street, while successful Manchester outfitters Beaumont Organic is expected launch in the Northern Quarter this year. Though online shopping is still king, a gradual return to traditional shopping with less emphasis on mass consumption is something to celebrate.
“For me it’s nice to see the product on someone – it gives me so much enjoyment. Try on, dress up and experience. No pressure,” says Hari. “For me, this is more than a job. It’s about serving the customer and sharing things I love. Yes I have to keep a roof over my head, but it’s more than that. The main point is style and great style will never die.”
Find Basil & Beaon 30 Park Road, Hale, Altrincham, WA15 9NN