On reflection, Fabric of the North has been three long years in the making, but it took the world taking a collective pause for the conceptual seed to be brought to fruition.
The time right now is unique. Everything has slowed down. We have had time to think and escape into those thoughts and ideas that have been bubbling away unfettered under the surface. This type of escapism isn’t mere distraction. While our chosen outlet of escape may differ, the act itself allows us to explore parts of ourselves that are yet to be discovered. For some it may be a creative pursuit such as painting, drawing, photography or performing. For others it is sport, reading or video games. For me, it is blogging.
Fabric of the North is the natural progression of my personal blog, Fabric of my Life, which I began writing as an interior styling assistant trying to break into the industry back in 2009. It was – and still is – my own little corner of cyberspace where I document anything and everything from my own home styling and curated edits, to photographic inspirations and travel adventures.
When I relocated from London to Manchester in early 2017, I was struck by just how much creative talent – and beautiful spaces – there were in the North, that I had previously been blind to. Growing up in London I had become accustomed to the relentless pace of consumerism on a global scale. Shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, exhibits came and went in the blink of an eye. Those successful enough to endure were so wildly popular you had to queue for hours to enjoy them, jostling amongst the crowds. A tale as old as time, London was the perfect place for my twenties, and far less so in my thirties. But though I may have been tired of London, but I was not tired of life!
In the North, I’ve been able to develop a true appreciation for well-loved local stores, eateries, bars and arts centres. I’ve learned that connection and community are far more important than shiny and new. It may not have been London at all – simply my own interpretation of it at that stage in my life – but having the opportunity to operate at a slower pace of life, to explore new surrounds with a more mature perspective, and being more mindful and considered in my actions, have all played a part in shaping this new editorial space.
Fabric of the North celebrates considered, slow living spaces, and the stories of creative, ethical and sustainable designers, makers and brands I have discovered whilst living in the North. It is my aim to encourage the conscious decision to seek better, buy better and support better. As we tentatively start to emerge from lockdown, some far more cautiously than others, it is important to remember that every pound we spend is a vote for the sort of world we want to live in. As Dave Hollis, founder of The Hollis Co., says “in the rush to return to ‘normal’, we should use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” To not rush back to the busy, the deadlines the commutes and the spending, and instead focus on our health, our relationships, and taking care of one another.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to use our financial means – whatever they may be – to support local business and revive the concept of a bustling and diverse local high street? Zero-waste refill stores, vintage emporiums, master craftspeople selling furniture, ceramics, leather goods and more. Independent and secondhand bookstores, tailors, local cinema and theatre spaces, and eateries offering Fairtrade coffee, homemade cake, family recipes and a communal space for all. A local community that is more inclusive, kinder, and more connected than ever.
In my (ongoing) research for this new editorial space I have been mindful to reflect and include, to the best of my ability, the experiences of Northern creatives from as many different regions, backgrounds and ethnicities as possible. I want Fabric of the North to be a website that is open, safe and in support of all Black, Asian, POC, LGBTQIA and differently abled people. I do, however, need to acknowledge the lack of diversity that currently exists in the interior design, contemporary craft and other creative industries, borne out of a lack of accessibility to career paths for those without White privilege. There is no quick fix, or easy answer here, but I want Fabric of the North to be a place where all creative minds feel free to express their passion for considered, ethical and sustainable living in the North, and for all voices to be heard. I welcome any and all submissions for features on the site, so please do get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a suggestion.
Let’s not go back to normal.
Kate Baxter — Founder & Editor, Fabric of the North
Portrait by Alexander Ward