Dressed For Success

First published: Thursday 05 Aug 2021

Darlington town centre is home to an eclectic mix of shops to suit every taste and budget.

From boutique style shopping at independents in its Grange Road Imperial Quarter and beyond, buoyed up by luxury brands at Binns, House of Fraser, to the hustle and bustle of the Cornmill shopping centre with its familiar high street names alongside fresh new faces, there is something for everyone.

26-year-old Amber Kotrri is one such ‘new face’. In late 2019 the mum of two launched her concept shop House of Zana to accompany her online retail and wholesale fashion brand, on Darlington’s trendy Grange Road and has since opened a second location at Teesside International Airport in May this year and a third 'Treausure' in the Cornmill shopping centre in Darlington.

For the young entrepreneur from Sedgefield, Darlington was the first choice for her business: “I am originally from the North East. Grange Road is a really affluent and stylish street – it’s the dream place to be. There is so much happening in Darlington it’s on the up, I am just so thrilled that I got in when I did.”

Amber Kotrri

Amber Kotrri

Why shopping in person is still so important

“The high street experience is very much alive in Darlington.” says Amber, “People are social animals. I think we’ve realised that even more so now. People love to support each other. By pairing a physical offer with our online shopping, we are giving people the option to get out there.

“In the last year our online sales outweighed the physical shop, but recently we have seen a huge increase in in-store and wholesale sales. Click and collect during lockdown was great for our Grange Road shop, although our online sales continued to flourish it was wonderful to be able to see the local people who were thinking of and supporting us.

Going out is the new staying in and we’ve missed it

For almost a century, Binns department store has offered up a variety of quality, style and service with international inspiration from it’s convenient location in the heart of Darlington. House of Fraser Store Manager Peter Kirsop explains: “Families have grown up shopping in our store – it’s part of the community.

“With ladies, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, a huge selection of footwear, beauty and jewellery – the service-led retail experience, coupled with an opportunity to meet in the newly re-opened café, is alive and well at Binns.”

Darlington Town Centre, Binns

Darlington Town Centre, Binns

Limited edition fashion that’s got Leggs

Family run boutique ‘Leggs’ on Skinnergate in Darlington has brought the best of fashion to the people of North-East England for over 100 years.

Moving with the times, its award-winning team deliver super-glamourous and limited-edition fashion for both men and women from their well-appointed boutique shop in Darlington as well as online, to customers across the UK and internationally.

Harnessing the best of both worlds, the Leggs team personally pick out the latest fashions to bring their customers the newest styles and ideas. Their Facebook Live events and product demos from the shop were a firm favourite amongst followers during lockdown.

Ann and John from Leggs Fashion on Skinnergate

Ann and John from Leggs Fashion on Skinnergate

The shop floor is all about customer experience

Geoffrey Gillow, known for its refined ladies and menswear, opened in Grange Road in Darlington more than half a century ago, just after England beat Germany to win the World Cup.

“It’s taken 55 years for us to do it again.” chuckles owner Bill Gillow on England’s UEFA EURO 2020 win over Germany in June, a month that would usually see him at an international fashion fair in Florence. 

“I try to scour Europe for the best brands – as independents we need to and do offer something a bit niche and different, something more exciting. Since lockdown we’ve had a fabulous time especially with ladieswear. We’ve had the most amazing lift in people coming in who wanted to try things on and touch and feel the products. Not being able to travel has not stopped us, we’ve done the hard work by sourcing not just brands, but quality brands for our customers.

Geoffrey Gillow, shop window on Grange Road

Geoffrey Gillow, shop window on Grange Road

Independent Fashion Shops

National Retailers

  • House of Fraser,7 High Row, Darlington
  • New Look, Cornmill Shopping Centre
  • Next, Cornmill Shopping Centre
  • Peacocks, Northgate
  • Primark, Cornmill Shopping Centre
  • River Island, Northgate
  • Yours Clothing, Cornmill Shopping Centre
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