Thirty and thriving

Feeling nostalgic as The Clothes Show in association with Alcatel turns 30

In October 1986, The Clothes Show made a memorable debut on the BBC with a TV show that would fast-become one of the nation’s favourite fashion forecasts, presented by industry legends Jeff Banks, Professor Caryn Franklin MBE and TV star Selina Scott.

Thirty years on, we take a look back at the changing face of The Clothes Show before the live event relocates to Liverpool for 2017 as the newly branded British Style Collective presented by The Clothes Show.

Unlike many fashion TV shows today, the original series of The Clothes Show was designed to bring high fashion to the general public while tackling harder issues such as sweat shops and eating disorders; this led to phenomenal viewing figures throughout the 1980s and 90s, peaking at 9 million every Sunday night. Borne out of this success, The Clothes Show emerged from behind our screens in 1989 to create the UK’s biggest live fashion and beauty event. The live show has welcomed over 100,000 visitors every December as an intrinsic part of British fashion history and heritage.

Every year, the show boasts bigger and bolder campaigns, launches new and exciting concepts and feature areas, and welcomes the hottest names in fashion, music and showbiz to its stages. While resting on long-established ties to the industry, the show is firmly rooted in popular culture and moves with the trends, shining a light on current favourites as well as the next generation of talent – the industry’s movers and shakers, the ones to watch in years to come.

Reading like a who’s who of the fashion industry elite, some of Britain’s most famous models including Erin O’Connor, Oliver Cheshire, Sam Rollinson and Rosie Tapner, as well as TV personalities Cat Deeley, Holly Willoughby and Vernon Kay, were all discovered while wandering the halls of The Clothes Show. Doubling as a hunting ground for model scouts, Select Model Management will return this year to discover the next big thing on the runway, and the ‘Face Of’ The Clothes Show 2016.

The 4,500 seat Alcatel Fashion Theatre, which has played home to the UK’s largest catwalk, has also welcomed its fair share of star-studded line-ups, with presenters in the past including Dermot O’Leary, Louise Redknapp, Gok Wan, Fearne Cotton, George Lamb, Dave Berry, Rick Edwards and Henry Holland – to name just a few.

Fashion hungry crowds from around the UK gather each year to witness the incredible work of leading choreographers, stylists, music acts, dancers and models in a spectacle like no other; it is a haven for some of the best performers in the world, with the likes of the Spice Girls, Boyzone, Amy Winehouse, The Saturdays and JLS kick-starting their careers at the show.

This year saw the launch of The Clothes Show Discovers; a search across the nation to find a male and female artiste to headline the Alcatel Fashion Theatre, in association with Capital FM. Fundamental to the show’s credible heritage is its packed education programme, led by Professor Caryn Franklin MBE, whose inspiring work and involvement since the initial TV launch has grown the show to become a crucial date on the calendar for schools and universities to reach out to young creatives, paving the career paths for their future in the fashion industry.

Professor Caryn Franklin MBE commented: “When I began presenting the BBC’s Clothes Show as Fashion Editor of i-D Magazine back in 1986, I had no idea it would have such a far reaching effect and long-term impact on public perception of the fashion industry. Our approach to showcasing highend designer fashion alongside artisanal and high-street product together with personal and homemade creativity to celebrate all body types, ages and tastes caught the imagination of the nation and beyond. Our UK audiences were 9 million every week and through BBC World Service we reached the homes of up to 157 million viewers around the world. John Galliano told me that as a result of being on the Clothes Show he was frequently questioned by cab drivers about his collections because they now recognised him and wanted to ‘talk fashion’. Matthew Williamson said that it was only when we featured him on the Clothes Show that his mum realised he had ‘made it’, and I’ll never forget our Bride of the Year collaborations with amazing creatives like Vivienne Westwood and Helen Storey, or launching unknowns like Stella McCartney and Christopher Bailey. It’s been 30 years since this iconic brand began and people still stop me in the street to talk about the Clothes Show’s influence in their lives, many are in fact now working in the industry and even leading names like Gareth Pugh and Christopher Kane have told me how much the Clothes Show meant to them as young creatives.”

Fast-forward thirty years to this December, when The Clothes Show in association with Alcatel will return for the very last time to the NEC Birmingham for five unmissable days. Offering shopping from fashion-forward collections and hair and beauty essentials, as well as exclusive Q&A sessions, meet and greets, trend presentations, emerging talent and graduate showcases, styling workshops, and everything else you need to feed your love of fashion.

Brands such as Oasis, South Beach, Sugarhill Boutique, Elemis, Barry M, Lee Stafford, WAH Nails, Models Own and W7 will fill the shopping halls; while the likes of Laura Whitmore, Laura Jackson, Mark Heyes, Jamie Laing, Joey Essex, Mark Wright and many more familiar faces will take to the show’s iconic and inspiring stages across the five days. Get ready to see us off in style, as we prepare for a celebration like no other!

For more information and to book tickets to this year’s event, please visit: