Mancunian brand Bench, is one of those brands that when mentioned, people have a tendency to utter, “ahh yeah, Bench, I remember Bench”, its a casualwear label that people tend to hold in esteem and with fondness. So when I got an email asking me if I want to take a little jaunt up to the wonderful city of Manchester to take a look at Bench’s new concept store ? I thought, “ahh yeah, Bench, I remember Bench”.
So off I went up to SUNNY Manchester, OK it was pouring down but I hate to be predictable, off into an area called The Northern Quarter, which I remember as Oldham Street, famed nowadays for its gritty realism, I prefer to recall it for Afflecks Palace and Dry Bar, but hey each to their own. Nestled on the corner parallel to where Eastern Block records USED to be, is the BENCH Concept Store. I have to be honest I was completely bowled over by the store, but more the thinking behind it. Nick Barber, Head of Design, explained to me, that the launch of the NQ (Northern Quarter) concept store seeks to give something back to the city and community that nurtured and gave life to Bench, almost 25 years ago !!! (just to make you feel old).
The store will tie in with the Self Made campaign, championing the cultural innovators and launched through www.benchselfmade.com, the campaign offers successful applicants an opportunity to showcase and further their creative skills with prize funding and exposure through the Bench brandbook, website and social media channels. Serving as a basis to house and present the exceptional talents of the competition winners.
As well as being a place to see first hand the talent rising up through the help of the campaign, exclusive product previously unavailable in the UK will feature in store along with a range of limited edition lines and collaboration products. The store will also provide a multi-purpose, gallery style space. The basement gallery will serve as a busy hub for Manchester’s creative minds, of which there are plenty by the way, to meet and mingle. The basement will also provide a platform for emerging young talent to showcase their ideas and skills with live music, performance, artist workshops, photography, film screenings and exhibitions.
Nick, then took me through the collection for this coming season, which took its inspiration on a nostalgic look at the 90’s, rather apt as I spent much of the earlier 90’s hanging out in drinking dens and somewhat trendy clothes shops, just a stones throw away. The range sees a return to street wear, combining influences from urban tribes and music culture, for which Manchester is renowned as a mecca for. Bench is a branch, that has evolved and developed over its near 25 years, had its ups and downs and at times lost sight of its roots but its definitely one which is well worth revisiting.