By Nicole Willis
Forget football fever, fashion fever swept through Belfast city centre as Saturday Souk returned for another successful stint. The monthly fair, on the first Saturday of every month boasts an eclectic mix of over 30 stalls including an array of vintage fashion, art, and jewellery.
The market is the passion project of Studio Souk, a design and retail space for local artists, designers and retailers. Located in Spires Mall, this innovative space is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. Acting as a platform, it has paved the way for designer Shauna Fay, who recently enjoyed immense success there, to open her very own store chock-full of her exclusive garments.
The studio formerly known as Fashion Souk made the transition to Studio Souk in 2013. Former photographer, Linzi Rooney, impressively transformed a worn out retail unit into the vivacious workshop and retail space now known as Studio Souk. Previous Lord Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, tweeted his appreciation stating that opening the Studio was the, “best business moment of last year.” Support such as this has helped this compact space nestled in the heart of the city centre to thrive.
The menagerie of locally designed and handmade gems that can be found in this treasure trove is sure to please people of all tastes and budgets. With a whole host of local designers merging in one space the creative atmosphere is undeniable upon entry into the diverse yet chic interior of the store. The space is also a hub of savvy entrepreneurs that specialise in a multitude of stylish endeavours. The store manages to seamlessly combine style and sustainability. A feat that is hard to achieve in a difficult, recession hit market.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the Studio is their innate ability to turn unloved items into a green Fashionista’s dream. This creates perfect products for the ‘smart shopper’, those concerned with up cycling and revamping clothes and furniture which have yet to see their best days. This allows for a boutique experience at an affordable price.
This principal is what drives director of Studio Souk, Linzi, with her quirky jewellery line, Elephant Juice. She turns unassuming vintage silver cutlery into beautifully, bespoke pieces in which her vibrant personality is evident. Promoting the motto ‘up cycling is the new recycling’, Linzi is the perfect face for Studio Souk and what it stands to achieve as a business and as a design space.
The store offers a refreshing alternative to the monotony of the high street. Shoppers get the opportunity to meet the designers, gaining an insight into their design processes. This unique experience can also be experienced in the monthly workshops where members of the public can enjoy a masterclass from one of the resident designers. Such as those run by Patricia Dickson, pattern maker extraordinaire, who will be joining the Studio Souk family in August to impart some of her wisdom on those eager to learn her many in trade secrets.
With the recent success of Studio Souk and its many endeavours, including Saturday Souk, the future looks bright for Belfast’s creative community. People are falling in love with the handmade products and in doing so they are supporting local entrepreneurs and designers. The Studio and its ethical consumerism with further success could continue to make an impact locally and one day even further afield.
For more information on Studio Souk or any of its designers and retailers visit their website: www.studiosouk.co.uk.