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Kids of Manchester
“My dream for the future is to marry my girlfriend, have babies and be surrounded by as much love as possible” – AlyxPhotography Fumi Nagasaka, styling Elizabeth Cardwell

A light that never goes out: capturing Manchester’s youth

Long after the days of The Smiths and Madchester, these photos prove that the city’s outsiders are still alive and kicking

Northern Soul, The Smiths, Buzzcocks, Joy Division, acid house, Britpop... Manchester’s cultural (and subcultural) legacy is legendary. But today, out of 326 local councils in Britain, the city’s own ranks as the fourth most deprived, recent reports even claiming that just under half of the city’s children live in poverty. The Haçienda’s been bulldozed and turned into flats, and the proudly-Labour city has had the fog of Tory austerity descend – but is it all bad news? To prove that youth culture still thrives there, photographer and casting director Fumi Nagasaka and stylist Elizabeth Cardwell travelled up to Manchester to seek out the youth that walk its streets, capturing a group in iconic adidas sportswear. “These subjects stood out as they were all alone from the crowd,” the duo explained of those they shot – all outsiders, each was chosen for having their own distinctive style and personality. Read more about the project below, and click through the gallery to read about those pictured in their own words.

What inspired this project?

Fumi Nagasaka and Elizabeth Cardwell: Manchester and its current state versus former glory inspired this project. We decided to include adidas three stripe due to its connection to the Madchester years, but where as once it was worn by the 24 hour party crew, now it symbolises the youth of now and their need to win the race against time, geography and the battle the working class face under the new Tory rule.

What sums up the spirit of Manchester right now?

Fumi Nagasaka and Elizabeth Cardwell: The spirit of Manchester is still alive, but hidden beneath hen and stag parties and Greggs pasties. The homeless have faced cuts in support from the council which means they are more prevalent than ever on every street corner adding to a hedonistic feeling in the city which is not so much celebratory, but has a real sense of darkness and nihilism should you not read between the lines.

“Where Adidas was worn by the 24 hour party crew, now it symbolises the youth of now and their need to win the race against time, geography and the battle the working class face under the new Tory rule”

Were they eager to get their portrait taken or did you have to convince them?

Fumi Nagasaka and Elizabeth Cardwell: Most of them were loath to be photographed and needed to be convinced. They were not interested in being in a fashion magazine, but our interest in them as individuals was genuine and when they felt that the resistance to be shot went away.

What struck you most about the people you shot?

Fumi Nagasaka and Elizabeth Cardwell: What struck us the most about these kids were that they personify the light within Manchester that is still there. The toughness and outsider rebellion that is part of the cities character remains bright within its youth. Despite what is going on around them which they have no control sheer grit and determination to succeed as individuals and believe in themselves as outsiders.