Fashion innovator quits city centre for Cheshire’s golden triangle

Phil Lanigan and Neil Hulme

Phil Lanigan, co-owner of boutique menswear store and a new ‘Made in Manchester’ classic casual fashion label has told he is concerned for the soul of Manchester city centre after taking the difficult decision to relocate the retail store to the wealthy commuter town of Knutsford in Cheshire.

A former senior manager with classic English brand Hackett he started Lanigan and Hulme with Neil Hulme in September 2017.

He said a number of factors had combined to make operating from Royal Exchange Arcade in the city centre no longer viable: parking charges; lack of support from the city; and a decline in midweek footfall since the pandemic, particularly the decline in office based working in the city centre for his core customer.

“Spinningfields Man hasn’t returned to the city centre.

“As a company we’re doing great, online and at the weekends, but I could close from Monday to Friday and it wouldn’t make any difference, frankly.

“Work culture has changed. In many ways our premium brands fit in well with the smart casual way of dressing.”

The menswear store stocks brands including Hackett, Crombie, John Smedley and Peregrine – “I love it because it is made in Manchester” – Irish suit brand Magee, Sunspel and Johnstons of Elgin, with Barkers, Tricker’s, RM Williams and Grenson providing the footwear.

He added: “City centres need to do something to draw people in. Independent traders are what gives a city character, but Oi Polloi has gone, we’ve gone, there’s very little independent menswear in the city anymore, it’s so boring. I thought Manchester was better than that.”

He said he started the business with Neil Hulme initially to provide a retail space that was fun and characterful. Customers liked his two pet bulldogs and the easy vibe of the store.

In 2021 the business developed their own classic label Lanigan & Hulme trading on its Manchester heritage, using cotton spun in Manchester by English Fine Cottons in Dukinfield.

“Over the years we became frustrated at the lack of independent quality menswear options within Manchester city centre that represented the great British heritage brands that we loved. Our only real accessible channels were online, in other cities, or in the larger soulless department stores which didn’t give us the full shopping experience or service we wanted or as male customers deserved.

“We decided if no one else was going to do it then why not do it ourselves! We then came up with the initial L&H concept to create a space that would give others ultimately what we were wanting ourselves, and share our years of experience and expertise at the same time. Highly curated and designed solely with image conscious and quality concerned men in mind, L&H stocks genuine merchandise that’s made to last both in style and durability.”

He told trade publication Drapers last year that his customer was aged 30 to 60 who was image conscious and appreciated good quality. “He is happy to pay premium, but not luxury, prices. And he wants his clothes to fit properly. As it turns out, we attract men in their twenties as well.”

Ironically, Lanigan will commute by train from his home in Castlefield to run the new store in Knutsford’s King Street.