Style and the City: Meet the womenswear style bloggers inspired by Sheffield
Just a stones throw away from the Exposed office is a scene synonymous with Sheffield. Kelham Island, with its towering red-brick chimney overlooking the River Don, is a fashion blogger’s dream backdrop. As a smartphone captures the setting, it’s apparent that this is where the city’s industrial past meets its technological future.
“It’s just so quirky. There’s so much in a short space. You can walk across the road and it looks like you’re in a completely different place,” She Might Be Loved blogger, Georgina Grogan, tells Exposed. “It adds a real Sheffield vibe to it, being industrial and having character to it.”
Grogan, who has turned her blog into a career and amassed an impressive 34.1K (and counting) Instagram followers along the way, chronicles her life in Sheffield on her blog, sharing content on everything from fashion to food to her adorable kittens. “I love tagging where I am in Sheffield, I just think there’s so many different places where you can go and shoot and just have a great time and really get to know people.”
With a plethora of vibrant and recognisable locations, Sheffield is arguably ‘instagrammable’ and its diverse backdrops are loved by bloggers. “If I had to choose my all-time favourite locations they’d either be in the city centre near my go to brunch spot Tamper as there’s some cool wall art nearby or around Kelham Island, not far from Depot Bakery,” Hannah Wild of Cagney and Lace says. Wild is not alone; Sheffield’s spirited street art is a favourite amongst bloggers. “It may be a typical blogger thing but I love having a walk around Sheffield city centre on the hunt for amazing street art to use as a background for my shoots,” Kimberly Walker tells Exposed.
With nearly 100K Instagram followers, Shannon Alexandra Lata has been documenting her life on her blog since winning an Elle magazine competition in 2011 inspired her to launch her own platform: “I like using other people’s art in my photos. I think that it’s a good way to show originality [rather than] having your photos in front of a plain white wall, which a lot of bloggers do well, but that’s not me. I like to get some colour and some more of my personal taste in terms of art in the background,” she tells Exposed, adding: “One of my favourite shots was actually taken at the back of the Great Gatsby pub where it says ‘Great’ on the wall. That’s one of my most well-received pictures ever.”
For Hannah Frances McCreesh, her eponymous blog – formerly The Sheffielder – showcases her style in places inspired by the outfit she is shooting. The concrete steps outside the Octagon provided an urban setting for a recent collaboration with sportswear company Gola, while a floral look was recently shot in Weston Park and Paradise Square evokes a scene reminiscent of London’s Chelsea. “People recognise them as landmarks,” McCreesh says of her inclusion of Sheffield spots in her blog. “It’s nice for people to recognise and think ‘I’ve been there before.’ It’s a way to engage with people.”
Stunning scenery aside, the city’s approach to fashion is another reason why Sheffield’s most prominent bloggers love it so much. “I think the only style identity Sheffield has is just ‘be yourself and wear what you want,’” Walker says. “It’s such a diverse place for fashion, you could wear the most outrageous or most simple outfit and nobody would bat an eyelid or judge you.” This laid-back attitude to fashion is praised by tastemakers, and has even encouraged some to embrace their style. For Grogan, the friendliness of Sheffielders and their willingness to give compliments has allowed her to “be more colourful and go out there with fashion, try new things and never be afraid of too much colour or too much print.”
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Describing her style as “eccentric, unique and orange,” popular fashion Instagrammer Hannah Reynolds has built up a following by documenting her colourful style on the app. “I think Sheffield encourages you to dress how you like. I used to live in a different area and I always had that feeling of being ‘out of place’. In Sheffield however, it feels so different. People are more accepting of originality and encourage it almost, especially with all the beautiful, edgy clothing shops that are scattered about the city. I think we’re a very lucky city to have so many striving independent stores, and these have definitely shaped my style.”
McCreesh agrees: “What I love about Sheffield is that it’s got a really nice, creative scene. There’s a lot of local businesses. That’s quirky in itself. Sheffield’s definitely got its own character.” The abundance of vintage shops in the city – particularly down Division Street – is a cornerstone of the city’s aesthetic: “That that sort of vibe has really helped me come out of my shell in terms of my style,” Lata tells Exposed.
Those vintage shops – Mooch, Cow and Vulgar – are themselves harnessing the influence of social media and blogging on their own platforms. Danielle Lanae, the person behind Mooch’s Instagram account says, “social media is a powerful force for the fashion industry. It allows fashion movements to be created pretty much instantaneously. It introduces people to whole new fashion ideals. And most of all, it allows talented independent brands and designers to get out there to be discovered,” adding, “Sheffield puts its own stamp onto fashion, rather than following trends.”
“It’s very important for me to incorporate Sheffield into my blog,” Lata says, describing the impact that social media can have on local businesses. “I did a blog post about my favourite vegan and vegetarian places to eat in Sheffield. One of the cafés contacted me and said ‘we’ve had a few people come in, just on your recommendation.’ The more inclusive we are of our own locations, the more that we can help our own communities grow. That’s really important, especially for small, independent businesses.”
One thing’s for sure: Sheffielders are a stylish bunch and the following and influence of its bloggers is paramount to that. As Wild puts it: “I’ve always worn fashion I’ve gravitated towards and rarely given two hoots about what anyone else thinks. That, to me, is Sheffield style.”