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Nicky Hayer On The Importance Of York Fashion Week


Creative Director at York Fashion Week (YFW) and Brand Consultant at NIMA, Nicky Hayer, discusses the origins of the show and her Yorkshire loves

What originally inspired you to launch York Fashion Week?

I suppose it was the business and community scene. I absolutely love fashion, and saw a gap in York for a really big celebration of fashion that could cover all avenues from retail through to design. I’d worked on fashion events in the city in the past and kept imagining how else we could elevate and create a real impact.

From the first event, what did you want to offer? 

I wanted us to make some noise in the city, and really celebrate what York had to offer. I think at the beginning I perhaps saw this as an opportunity for the retailers, especially as this was at a time when we were really seeing the change in landscape for the high street. I wanted to bring some theatre and excitement.

New Holgate
Nicky Hayer

Has it evolved at all?

Absolutely. It’s still about the theatre, but the event has certainly evolved. YFW has become a platform for grassroots fashion designers and a positive resource for students. We’re proud to work with universities, colleges and schools and we’ve even been able to integrate YFW into some of their curriculums which gives the students something tangible to work towards. 

Our wider network has continued to grow and develop too and become so much more diverse. We work with incredible communities of people from different cultural and economic backgrounds and have reached new geographical locations.  

Creatively, I’ve enjoyed taking the events a step further. We’ve taken on some really exciting spaces like The Guildhall York and Yorkshire Museum, and we’ve been able to put on shows that leave a real impact.

What can we look forward to this year?

For anyone who has attended before, it’s about seeing how we’ve turned the volume up even further. And for those who haven’t, it’s a way of experiencing York in a whole new way.

I’m incredibly proud that York Fashion Week Part One in April welcomed Gary James McQueen as our headline speaker. Guests relaxed in the Yorkshire Museum and heard about his fascinating career history, which includes working alongside his uncle, Alexander McQueen. We had an exciting collaboration with Bentley Leeds and partnership with CinemArts, which transformed The Guildhall into an immersive cinema experience with a screening of the fashion documentary, Westwood.

And then of course, there were the plethora of runway shows; in-store events such as Jigsaw; brand takeovers like Behind the Façade with Fabrication; and our own YFW shows hosted in The Guildhall with an incredible lighting show by Reel Productions. 

You are also Managing Director of NIMA – what does the company do?

NIMA is all about brand management so we work with businesses on how they tell their stories and present themselves to their audience. This works across the board from branding and website, through to customer journey and experience, and of course, event management. 

Yfw Autumn Day
York Fashion Week AW22

Your affiliation to York extends to working at Bettys in the past. How do you look back on that time?

I absolutely loved my time working with them. It taught me so much, and I met some of my very best friends there. It’s a very fascinating business so what I was able to learn certainly stuck with me and I definitely recognise that things such as my attention to detail, stems from working on such a pristine brand!

What do you love about living in York?

I fell in love with York. If we consider how small the city is, but the fact there are two universities, the college, such an interesting business community, so much heritage and culture, the pockets of communities – it makes so much noise and I find it really inspiring. Visually too, though, it doesn’t come much more beautiful. The fact that a walk to work can be along the city walls or past the Minster is really special. 

Where are your favourite places in York or beyond?

I could list so many places! Definitely York Minster. It was when sat outside York Minster on a trip to the city that I decided I wanted to move here, so there’s a real connection to it now.

The Guildhall. When I first walked into the venue after the recent refurbishment, I knew we could put on an amazing show. It’s absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to do even more with the team. They’ve also got a little café, which is the perfect place to disappear with my laptop.

And I have to say Brimham Rocks. I love it there and it’s become a favourite place to go when the weather is fine.

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Picture of Mark Kebble

Mark Kebble

Mark's career in journalism started in 2001 when he landed a role on a small lifestyle magazine in Angel, North London. Soon enough, the magazine was purchased by a larger organisation and Mark found himself promoted to editor at the tender age of 23. He later became group editor, working on magazines for Angel, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. He was also involved in a launch in Hadley Wood and a major new group website, later becoming Group Hub Editor. In 2021, Mark joined Zest Media Group and oversaw the launch of many Absolutely titles across the UK. To date, Mark has launched in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex, Essex, Yorkshire and Cheshire. When he does have some free time, Mark is also the Chairman of an amateur football club in Surrey and is also a fully qualified FA football coach.
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