Great Yorkshire Show 2024: model farmers step out on the catwalk in Yorkshire wool fashion brands

The Great Yorkshire Show fashion catwalk is back this week to entertain this year’s visitors in brilliant style. Stephanie Smith reports. Pictures by Kate Mallender.

When the Great Yorkshire Show catwalk returns this week (July 9-12), it will feature a flock of amateur models who all have links to agriculture and who will all be showcasing sustainable British fashion at its finest.

The Farm to Fashion runways will take place twice a day across all four days on the Sheep Shearing Stage at this year’s annual county show at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate. Freya Bourke and Aimee Pearson are among the 12 new models selected from a GYS model competition launched in April this year, searching for fresh faces with a farming connection.

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Freya and Aimee took part, along with professional model Niamh Woodhouse and Yorkshire Agricultural Society PR officer Ben Barnett, in a fashion shoot at the North Yorkshire farm of outgoing show director Charles Mills.

Ben Barnett and Freya Bourke wear pre-loved clothes from Replenish charity, which will be the first charity shop to showcase at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture by Kate Mallender at the North Yorkshire farm of current show director Charles Mills.Ben Barnett and Freya Bourke wear pre-loved clothes from Replenish charity, which will be the first charity shop to showcase at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture by Kate Mallender at the North Yorkshire farm of current show director Charles Mills.
Ben Barnett and Freya Bourke wear pre-loved clothes from Replenish charity, which will be the first charity shop to showcase at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture by Kate Mallender at the North Yorkshire farm of current show director Charles Mills.

Freya is from Guisborough but currently lives in Poland where she is studying for her degree in Veterinary Medicine. She fell in love with cows and farming while working part-time on a dairy farm, and her boyfriend, Charlie, has a sheep farm.

“This will be my first time modelling,” she says. “I have been to the show a few times before and it’s an event I always look forward to during my summer break. It is very different from my usual routine of either sitting at a desk studying or being in a pair of scrubs.”

Fellow rookie model Aimee, from Liversedge, is an accountant. She and her husband, Simon, have two sons, 38 Texel cross mule ewes and three Bleu du Maine sheep. Aimee is passionate about British wool.

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The GYS Farm to Fashion catwalk will highlight the important role that UK sheep farmers play in making sustainable, environmentally-friendly fashion and textiles. It will feature collections from British Wool, which promotes UK wool-made products, bringing to the runway knitwear from partner brands including Dales-based Glencroft, Marsali Tweed, Joseph Turner, Jo Stories, Spinney Knitwear, Romney Marsh Wools, Barefaced Knits and Palava.

Aimee Pearson, Niamh Woodhouse and Freya Bourke wear designs by Jaki Bogg. Picture by Kate MallenderAimee Pearson, Niamh Woodhouse and Freya Bourke wear designs by Jaki Bogg. Picture by Kate Mallender
Aimee Pearson, Niamh Woodhouse and Freya Bourke wear designs by Jaki Bogg. Picture by Kate Mallender

For the first time on the GYS runway, there will be a collection of pre-loved fashion from a charity shop. Based in Brighouse, Replenish opened in February last year, selling high quality, donated clothes and accessories, including designer labels, with profits going to its parent charity Focus4Hope, which supports vulnerable people in the local community, for example, by providing emergency food parcels and running day trips for the elderly.

Since 1997, the GYS fashion shows have been produced by model coach and events organiser Bernadette Gledhill, whose links with colleges and universities, designers, retailers, models, hair and make-up artists have been integral to the continuing popularity of the catwalks, while fostering links between fashion and farming in Yorkshire.

Celebrity models over the years have included Anita Rani, Amy Garcia, Lizzie Jones, Abbie Dewhurst, Hannah Cockroft, Graham Fletcher, Jon Mitchell, John Shires, Keith Senior, Owain Wyn Evans, Ryan Sidebottom and Yorkshire Vets Peter Wright and Julian Norton.

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This year’s fashion show will see farming influencer and arable farmer Olly Harrison model on Tuesday and South Yorkshire Farmer, YouTuber and TikToker on Wednesday.

Freya, Ben, Niamh and Aimee wear designs from British Wool brands. Picture by Kate Mallender.Freya, Ben, Niamh and Aimee wear designs from British Wool brands. Picture by Kate Mallender.
Freya, Ben, Niamh and Aimee wear designs from British Wool brands. Picture by Kate Mallender.

Huddersfield-based Antich Fine English Tailors, which started life as a commission weaver of fine worsted cloth 35 years ago, will showcase its ready-to-wear tailoring.

Retail brand development manager Samantha Steer says: “Today, Antich continues to weave fine cloth not just for themselves but for many prestigious and famous fabric houses and brands. Since then, we’ve grown and developed our garment department and are insanely proud to be the UK’s only weave-to-wear tailor, where each Antich garment is woven, designed and made in-house.”

Antich produces off-the-peg tailoring, hirewear and has an in-house bespoke service. It is launching a new casual collection called A by Antich.

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This year’s runway will also feature designs by Scarborough-based Isabelle Randall, whose work has been influenced by living in both Scotland and her native Yorkshire, using Yorkshire tweeds from Dugdales in Huddersfield alongside Harris tweeds. Her new collection is called Country Couture.

Joan Murray designs worn by Freya Bourke, Niamh Woodhouse and Aimee Pearson. Picture by Kate MallenderJoan Murray designs worn by Freya Bourke, Niamh Woodhouse and Aimee Pearson. Picture by Kate Mallender
Joan Murray designs worn by Freya Bourke, Niamh Woodhouse and Aimee Pearson. Picture by Kate Mallender

Skipton-based Jaki Bogg of HotButter Yarns will showcase her striking wool knitwear designs inspired by Yorkshire and her desire for every garment to tell a story. She uses wool from Yorkshire farmers, dyes it herself and knits from her imagination, writing down the pattern only when she has finished a piece. A knitting kit for each design is then created to be sold.

Returning to this year’s GYS runway is Joan Murray, also based in Skipton, where she works to commission, making innovative, highly creative knitted clothes that are frequently featured on catwalks and in the media. Joan has been invited on a two-week residency at St Cuthberts on Holy Island, Lindisfarne, in August and is currently developing designs inspired by its history and geography.

Her machine-knitted garments are created using fine, high-quality, natural yarns, including wool, silk and cottons, with exquisite colours and patterns cleverly making striking designs.

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Elsewhere at the Great Yorkshire Show (see here for more information), the GYS Stage has Helen Skelton (Tuesday), Adam Henson (Wednesday), Peter Wright (Thursday) and Rob and Dave Nicholson of Cannon Hall Farm.

Charles Mills says: “Be sure, it will be full of entertainment, superb competition and the best animals in the UK coming together to celebrate farming, food and agriculture.”

The 165th Great Yorkshire Show takes place from Tuesday, July 9, to Friday, July 12. Tickets in advance only. The fashion shows are on the Sheep Shearing Stage at 12noon and 4:30pm (Friday, at 12noon and 3pm).

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