But while the fake fashion metropolis of Very New Road may now be made into art and poetry, can these fake businesses still make a living? It’s safe to say that the raids and increasingly paranoid shopkeepers have made some big profits for the police. “We want legitimate businesses to thrive. We want to do the opposite and be hostile to criminals,” they explain.
James, who now runs bank sales online for academy football players and Northeastern schoolgirls, is confident it will go elsewhere. “It’s a marketplace full of individuals who, like me, aren’t driven by money. I don’t know what it is… it’s like dopamine,” he says. “Once you start selling fakes, you naturally feel great. It never ends,” he said, and he tried to quit the business, but it relapsed every time someone sent him a shipping message. He thinks it’s as good for him as it is for consumers. “I want that topic again. They may be selling fakes, but they’re making people happy.”
Now acting as a supplier consultant to Very New Road sellers looking to move online, he says the market, whether virtual or physical, is as resilient as a dangerous Balenciaga tracksuit. I’m sure not. “They could close Cheetham Hill, but it’s not the end for Manchester’s replica industry,” he says.