As you’ll know the new Victoria Gate shopping centre opened in Leeds last week and I was one of the first through the door to check it out.
Leeds has its fair share of shopping centres and arcades already, on a rainy day I can be found darting from one to the other in a bid to keep dry they are that close! Victoria Gate takes the place of what was once a police HQ, shopping parade and a very forlorn car park designed as an extension to the Victoria Quarter it promises quite the luxury retail experience.
Victoria Gate opened to much fan fare, with a ballet performance, Scouting For Girls and an Olympian cutting the ribbon. Sadly, I missed this bit, having gotten a slightly later train than originally planned, meaning I arrived just after the festivities. In some ways I was a little relived, as illustrious as it was, I wasn’t feeling 100% on the day, so I was relieved to breeze through without queuing.
I struggle to describe the style of the centre, and would think it trying to emulate a 1920s art deco glam, a bit like the style of the Victoria Quarter. The floor is paved in large alternating tiles of black and grey, the shop fronts large curved glass windows into delights, and the ceiling a web of white, much like somewhere else we are familiar with.
The one thing that I do worry about, much like when Trinity first opened, is that Victoria Gate doesn’t mean more empty lots in the city centre streets. Cath Kidston has opened a new, larger store in Victoria Gate and I worry that this means the one on Lands Lane will close in the coming months. Even more perplexing is that The White Company has moved from within the Victoria Quarter to the new development – you can walk between the two locations in under a minute!
I couldn’t help but notice that on the day Victoria Gate opened Look North, our local news service, were running a piece on how trade for the next door Kirkgate Market is at it’s worst level ever. As a collective family we use the market quite regularly, whether its stocking up on fruit and veg, buying a few metres of fabric or getting some sweets for an absolute bargain. Anyone who has visited will know the charm of the markets, both indoor and out, and as much as I love the fact we now have a John Lewis in Leeds I would trade it in a heartbeat to ensure the markets flourish for decades to come.
Overall I think I am struggling to make my mind up, it is aesthetically pleasing, but is it trying too hard to emulate an era from which it isn’t from? The shops are nice and may help boost the local economy, but am I really going to shop regularly at Aspinal of London, or Gant? Most likely not, just like there’s no way I would be buying the £300 Dyson hairdryer that was being demoed in the centre. In fairness I wasn’t completely enamoured with Trinity when it opened, but now I rather like it so perhaps Victoria Gate will grown on me too. If you are planning on going you can find a full shop directory here, make sure you don’t miss out Anthropologie!
Of course I couldn’t visit without picking up a few things, and I promise that over the week I will share with you what I bought on opening day. I was fairly restrained on my purchases, only buying from three or so shops. So look out for future posts featuring John Lewis and Anthropologie, and don’t forget to let me know what you thought in the meantime!