︎ INTERVIEW: THE NORTHERN YOUTH
Last weekend we headed over to York to meet up with THE NORTHERN YOUTH . A small team of York-based creatives, TNY have been busy carving out a non-profit platform to spotlight the burgeoning creative scene in the North. They started two years ago with a fashion show showcasing the best UK and Northern garment designers with all the proceeds going to mental health charities. The show was a hit, with Anna Wintour (Vogue's Editor in Chief) and Katherine Viner (Editor in Chief of The Guardian) even showing face. £30,000 was raised, a huge feat for the platform.
Two years later, a number of pop-ups and exhibitions down the line and tens of thousands raised for charities from their events, The Northern Youth are back with their pop up 'One Day Only'. Hailed as a ‘post-internet pop up’, the event celebrated online retailers and the ways in which social media has equalised the creative industry. With homegrown brands and designers such as Pariah, Simpleboy and Infer Clothing taking part, the event was a huge success - pulling in £2,500 for the Northern Youth Fund.
We sat down for a beer with Dana Gamble (Director of TNY) and Creative Director and owner of Simpleboy John James to discuss the importance of the event, The Northern Youth and how we can expect to see the platform evolve through the next year.
How did The Northern Youth start?
DANA: The Northern Youth started in 2016 with a fashion show in York which showcased a graduate collection from fashion students across the UK. It began with a Q&A with Vogue's Anna Wintour and The Guardian's Katharine Viner (Editor-in-Chief). The event celebrated artistic vision and made a huge step in drawing attention to the thriving potential creative community outside of London. It was also sponsored by Bobbi Brown, The Guardian, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Grand Central Trains and House of Fraser. This event was in aid of Refugee Action York and the Xavier Project and raised £30,000.
From there, we broadened our collective to focus on celebrating artistic talent from across the UK in the North of England. We've hosted events to platform visual artists, fashion designers, performers, musicians, streetwear brands and independent publications from across the UK. We then developed The Northern Youth fund which is committed to mental health improvement through arts education and therapy. The profits from our events, therefore, go towards the growth of our fund which will then aid two small independent services (one local and another national) whose aim is to use art to improve mental health for young people. This bridges our aims and helps to further invest into the North of England.
What is the importance of The Northern Youth?
JOHN: We are trying to give a space and platform for creatives in the North. This is so important as all Northern-based creatives feel pressured to as soon as they leave uni or feel they want to get a job in the industry, move straight to London in an already overran and saturated industry. With The Northern Youth we are trying to allow and inspire creatives to stay in the north and build new infrastructure and platforms for young creatives.
DANA: We are trying to get every art form out of London and into the North. With this pop-up, the focus was on clothing which is the most difficult to take out of London as so many people will only go to London to do a pop-up or lookbook. But as you’ve seen today, young people all over the North are just waiting for events and creative showcases or experiences to come out of their part of the country.
Where is the money from your events going?
DANA: This year we set up our fund that supports and goes to local funds around the North. They are all mental health and art education and therapy focused charities. We used to fund the national charity 'MIND', but this year we thought we would hone it on arts education as everyone attending the events and the entire team are passionate about creativity and everyone is affected by mental health in one way or another.
JOHN: With these smaller charities we will be able to grow a visible relationship where we as a team can be very active in building and growing these platforms.
Where do you see The Northern Youth going forward?
DANA: We see us building out our team of creatives to push TNY as a platform to put on even more experiential events around the north for young people and also use our in-house team to help creatives around the North to put on their own events, or create a magazine or building a clothing company.
JOHN: Currently we focus on showcasing up and coming artists from the North through events but I see us helping creatives in a number of different ways including helping to build, what is essentially an independent business with these young creatives.
Any final thoughts?
JOHN: Although we do focus on Northern creatives and designers, there were a number of London or Southern based brands and designers who came up for this pop-up; it has demonstrated what the North of England has to offer for people's interests in events like these and clearly shows there is an undiscovered world of creativity in the North.
Photography & edit by LOUIS HOLSGROVE