Lambert's Yard, Leeds
Take a walk along Lower Briggate in Leeds and you would be forgiven for innocently passing by a door that could be fairly described as ‘non-descript’. I have done exactly this for many years, which is why I was surprised to discover that the aforementioned door is in fact the entrance to Lambert’s House – a Leeds landmark that is over 400 years old.
The last surviving triple-storey house in the centre of Leeds, and a historical and architectural gem, the house, originally built around 1600, is named after the Lambert family who were wealthy grocers and tea dealers. Now known as Lambert’s Yard, the Grade II listed house, courtyard and arcade is set to open its doors again. With a legacy of housing independent businesses from across the region, history will again repeat itself thanks to an exciting new and permanent venture which will merge local and independent design, fashion and lifestyle under one very creative roof.
‘We want to bring the building back to the city and for people to realise what is actually behind its door. Lambert’s Yard is full of history and one of our main aims is to revive the independent fashion scene in Yorkshire – it is the perfect space to lend itself to this,’ explains Isla Brown, Marketing Director for Lambert’s Yard.
From the outside, Lambert’s House may not look all that much but the space inside is quite remarkable. The initial phase will see the opening of the first and second floor, with work then starting on a second phase to open up the remaining space. It’s fair to say that Lambert’s Yard will be diverse and flexible, with the space and building itself dictating how it is utilised. In fact, Johnny Buttons, who provides art direction for the fashion and creative industries and boasts clients such as Harrods and Selfridges, has been tasked with creating the most flexible space possible.
Lambert’s Yard will not only provide retail space but space available to hire, whether for a meeting point, a collection launch or an opportunity to use the building to display art installations. ‘Nothing will be here permanently, which means each visit will be different to the last. The focus is very much on fashion but we also want it to be much broader, to include homeware and the arts – anything that is creative. We ultimately want to create a community within Lambert’s Yard again,’ explains Isla.
There’s nothing us Yorkshire folk like more than a good cuppa (or something a bit stronger), so it’s a good job the second floor will be home to a café and bar where the emphasis will be very much on healthy eating. ‘Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean boring,’ assures Isla. ‘It will be delicious, fresh, locally sourced food, which you can enjoy with a hot drink or cocktail.’ This might be a blessing in disguise if you want to make a day of it as Lambert’s Yard won’t shut its door when the clock strikes five. It will also play host to a series of ‘Fashion Meets’ events in the evening, with the programme for the winter series due to be released shortly before opening. Unfortunately, Isla had to keep quiet as to the exact nature of these events but she did hint that there may be Q&A sessions with renowned fashion industry specialists – the type of event that would normally take place in London. ‘We are also proud that Yorkshire has a massive history in textiles and fashion, which is something that we plan to represent in an exhibition at some point.’
Another important element of Lambert’s Yard transformation will be the revival of creative education in the city. It has already made history, fashion history that is, by becoming one of the first places outside London to host a Centre of Fashion Enterprise (CFE) event – a fashion incubator based at the London College of Fashion. Lambert’s Yard has been instrumental in bringing the CFE New Market Entry Programme to Leeds for the first time and is the first part of an ambitious programme to establish a permanent fashion incubator in the city, which will support young businesses in their first years.
As Isla explains: ‘There is a lot of talent here in the region and some excellent fashion and design education. However, people tend to leave for London but we want to keep them here in Leeds with this exciting new space. The programme and incubator will educate new businesses and take them through the various stages required in order to establish themselves. This works perfectly alongside Lambert’s Yard as it can offer them the space to manufacture, display and sell their work, which is the end goal. By placing emerging designers next to news ones, they can learn from one another.’
So how exactly do you go about choosing which designers and brands should be showcased within Lambert’s Yard? With the best man for the job of course. Adam Jagger is a renowned buying consultant, who has headed up fashion brands such as ASOS, Topman and Ralph Lauren. Adam has joined the creative team at Lambert’s Yard and will head up the buying process to help search for the best of local independent talent.
A Yorkshire man himself, Adam, who hails from York, began his career there as a sales assistant at Sarah Coggles. He then worked his way up to Buying Director, before moving to London where he took on the premium buyer role at ASOS, then Buying Manager at Topman. Adam’s most recent role was that of European Ecommerce Buyer for Ralph Lauren. ‘I am delighted to be working on such an innovative and exciting project,’ said Adam. ‘I think Lambert’s Yard will create a unique destination in the North for emerging and established independent brands – it is a privilege to be a part of it.’
Isla explains, ‘Adam was actually one of the industry professionals who took part in the first CFE event, which was a great way to see who was out there locally in terms of independent designers. We are so pleased to have him on board, as he has the right eye and shares our vision for Lambert’s Yard. We want to hear from everyone and anyone – we look at all submissions but need to believe in the brand, be sure our customers will like it, and ensure that it complements the space and surroundings.’
Destined to become Leeds’ premier shopping and lifestyle destination, Lambert’s Yard will open in mid-October. There will also be the launch of a new Lambert’s Yard website where you can be kept up-to-date with the goings on there. Of course, one of the many forthcoming retail events to come will be for Christmas – an ideal place to pick up a few presents, whilst supporting the region’s creative industry.
Lambert’s Yard may show the signs of centuries-old wear and tear (it is after all that which gives it its charm) but that doesn’t make it any less contemporary. So next time you take a walk down Lower Briggate, be sure to take a look behind that famous door.