Life In Leeds
You love fashion
Hands up, who considers themselves a fashion addict? If you’re reading this and slowly raising your hand, we’re sure that you’ll fit right in here in Leeds. Whether you like to admire fashion, design it or buy it, Leeds really does have it all. Take a little look through this list to see why it’s the perfect city for you!
Leeds is considered one of the UK’s top shopping destinations outside of London, and it’s easy to see why. Think about all your favourite big-name high street stores, and you can be sure that Leeds has them. However, as well as your high street must-haves, Leeds has a whole lot more to offer too. There’s a whole host of vintage goldmines, charity shop bargains and quirky independents that will make you wish you had a money tree in your back garden.
Arguably Leeds’ most famous street, Briggate is right in the centre of Leeds. It’s packed full of well-known fashion stores, including: Zara, Debenhams and House of Fraser. Briggate is also home to Harvey Nichols, the famous designer department store. A visit to Harvey Nichols is a real treat – there’s four floors full of luxurious clothes, fancy accessories, food and beauty products. Although purchasing treats in here may not fit within your student budget, but it’s still a fun experience to just wander around and check it all out.
- If you’re planning a shopping trip down Briggate, why not make a pit stop at Whitelocks? This little pub is the oldest in Leeds, and it has a great atmosphere. It’s hidden away down an alleyway on Briggate… we challenge you to find it without a map!
Trinity Leeds is an amazing shopping centre, that is the focal point of the city centre. Trinity has over 120 stores, including many big names such as Topshop/Topman, Adidas, H&M, River Island and Victoria’s Secret. As well as a huge array of shops, it also has the super cool Everyman Cinema (complete with cosy sofas and pizza delivered to your seat), as well as a large selection of bars and restaurants. Trinity also hosts regular student lock-in evenings. As you can imagine, these are always super popular – just make sure you don’t end up spending your entire student loan on those discounted shoes!
- Before every visit to Trinity, check out the ‘What’s on’ section of their website. Here you can find each store’s latest discounts, events and offers. You can sometimes bag yourself a freebie too.
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to wear the same thing as everybody else, then Leeds has you covered. There are loads of cool independent boutiques for men and women dotted around the city centre and beyond. Some of our students’ favourites include The Hip Store which sells edgy menswear, Accent clothing which is inside Queen’s Arcade, and Welcome skate store.
The beautiful Victoria Quarter is very impressive indeed. If you enjoy shopping (or window shopping!) in designer stores while observing beautiful architecture, you simply must visit. In Victoria Quarter you will find stores such as Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry and Ted Baker, all housed underneath stunning stained-glass ceilings.
- Usually, the stores in Victoria Quarter may be a little too expensive for a student budget. However, during the sales, prices can be significantly lower – sometimes with up to 70% off.
Victoria Gate was recently voted the best shopping centre in the world… that’s right, in the entire world! This stunning shopping centre was built in 2016 and it cost £160m. Its impressive architecture is visible from halfway across Leeds, and it attracts admirers from all over the country. It’s home to a five storey John Lewis, a huge casino and a number of fancy restaurants and shops. If the stores inside are a little too expensive for you, why not grab a coffee and sit and watch the world go by? As far as fashion is concerned, we think you’ll get lots of outfit inspo from spending an afternoon in Victoria Gate.
- Restaurants East 59th in Victoria Gate has some great mid-week food and drink deals. Why not stop off there after a long day of shopping?
There are plenty of vintage stores in Leeds, selling everything from glamorous ballgowns to edgy reworked denim. Blue Rinse on Call Lane is popular with students for its vintage sportwear and reworked items. In fact, the brand has spread so much that it’s now stocked in stores such as Urban Outfitters and Miss Selfridge. As well as Blue Rinse, other popular vintage haunts for Leeds’ fashionable students include Best, Pop Boutique and Sue Ryder in Headingley. If you’re looking for jewellery and accessories, Aladdin’s Cave in Queen’s Arcade is a treasure trove full of possibilities. We challenge you not to spend hours rooting around in there.
Leeds Corn Exchange
Housing lots of quaint and quirky independent fashion stores is Leeds Corn Exchange. Whether you’re looking for unique formalwear, cutesy vintage clothing or handmade accessories, the Corn Exchange is the perfect place to visit. The Corn Exchange is a beautiful Victorian building, meaning it’s a popular spot for wannabe photographers looking for the perfect Insta-shot.
- After a day of shopping in the Corn Exchange, check out Humpit, the hummus restaurant on the Corn Exchange’s bottom floor. For a long time, this place was the number one place for food in all of Leeds, and for good reason. Their creamy hummus and fluffy falafel is delicious and amazing value!
Charity shop shopping is just the best, isn’t it? You get to treat yourself to new clothes guilt-free, as you know you’re helping towards a good cause. In Headingley, students are lucky enough to have many different charity shops to choose from. There’s Mind, Oxfam, Martin House Hospice and many more. Their stock is updated regularly by the 25,000+ students that live in Leeds, so you can be sure that there will be something new instore each time you visit.
- For a fun night out with your friends, why not participate in the charity shop challenge? The rules are as follows: you each spend £10 and buy one friend an outfit entirely from a charity shop… the jazzier the outfit, the better. You then must all go out in your new outfits, and the person that gets the most compliments for theirs wins! It’s a fun night out, and you’re contributing to a great cause.
As well as having a tonne of vintage clothing stores, Leeds also has plenty of vintage fashion fairs – including a regular one here at Leeds Beckett’s SU. There’s also a popular fair at Kirkgate Market every month, which also gives you an excuse to go and try out their yummy street food too. Leeds even has regular ‘preloved kilo sales’, in which you fill your bags with vintage goodies and pay for the weight, not per item.
- For a cost-effective way of updating your wardrobe, head to a kilo sale. You could even go with a friend and agree to select at least a few outfits out for each other. That way, you can take a risk and try something you wouldn’t usually purchase/wear, without spending a lot of money
Not strictly in Leeds, but if you fancy a designer bargain, there is a designer outlet just outside of York. At certain times of year (for example just after Christmas), there are sales on top of the already heavily discounted items. This means that you can grab a massive bargain. There’s even a Mulberry outlet store here… you’re welcome!
- If you know you need a long lasting, quality item (for example a coat to last you through the winter months at university), why not see if you can get one from the outlet? You can be sure that it will be excellent quality, and it will be far cheaper than if you buy it in a regular store.
Worth being in a category of its own, Leeds Community Clothes Exchange is a bit of an underground revolution in Leeds. Basically, you take all of your unwanted clothes to a big room, exchange them for tokens, then spend your tokens on shiny new items! It really is the perfect way for a cash-strapped student to inject new life into their wardrobe. This amazing initiative is run by volunteers, and has a great atmosphere at every event.
- The next time you spot a friend of family member about to throw away an item of clothing, make sure you grab it from them and save it for the clothes exchange. The more clothes you bring, the more you get to take away!
Making your own fashion
If you’re already a pro when it comes to creating items, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of dressmaking and haberdashery shops in Leeds. Head to Kirkgate Market for all the fabric, buttons and glitzy accessories you could ever dream of, all for bargain prices. There’s also Samuel Taylor, which is just opposite the market. If you want to lose yourself for hours at a time, head to Hobbycraft which is in the Crown Point retail park, just outside of the city centre.
We’re sure that Leeds will inspire budding designers to create the very best fashions. If you’re partial to a bit of wild festival fashion, we have Leeds Fest as well as plenty of smaller city based ones. Why not wander around them with a sketchpad so you don’t forget any of the ensembles? Other things to inspire you in Leeds are the various art galleries, the huge theatre and arts scene, pretty gothic architecture such as Kirkstall Abbey, and the rainforest vibes of Tropical World in Roundhay Park.