Carlisle-based CHO Fashion & Lifestyle is an award-winning, independent online designer-clothing retailer “with a passion for beautiful brands and professional service”, according to the founder Anthony Irving.

“I set up the original store in October 1999 – obviously there was no internet then! We were in a premises on Lonsdale Street in the city,” says Anthony, 46, who lives with his wife and two children just outside the city centre.

“The store focused on quality products and superb customers service.”

For the long-time Carlisle resident, the city and its people were the driving force to start the business.

“Carlisle is a terrific place, with terrific people,” he says. “I have lived here since I was seven years old so this is the obvious place to be.”

But the venture has not been without its challenges since it started more than 20 years ago and circumstance led the business to transition from a traditional bricks-and-mortar store to now being online-only - bouncing back from adversity like a phoenix from the flames.

“When the banking crisis hit in 2008, I set up CHO as an internet venture because I feared the store-based business could suffer irreparably,” recalls Anthony.

“We had a website in 2007 but had never really focused on it.”

While CHO has remained Carlisle-based, being online now means “we could be anywhere in the UK”, says Anthony. “But our roots are in Carlisle and this is where we’ll stay”, he adds.

“I miss the shop on a personal level,” admits Anthony, “but on a business level ending that has given me more time to concentrate on the online version – Covid has sped that up and this will only continue.”

His initial move into retailing was, perhaps, something of a surprise. “I am a dairy farmer’s son and I worked on the farm for a few years,” he points out. But, again, fate stepped in as poor health forced him to change direction and give up farm work.

After the banking crisis, Anthony moved with the times. He says the business originally concentrated on country clothing “but we are now focused on lifestyle fashion – the country clothing represents a small part of the CHO offering”.

Around 10 years ago, CHO moved out of its original premises and into the former Buskers nightclub, also on Lonsdale Street.

“We hold all our stock at that site and we go and see brands we offer at their showrooms and head offices, mainly in London. We tend to buy stock six to nine months in advance of each season,” Anthony says.

“We take a lot of time to choose our brands,” he says, “we don’t just take on anyone and that’s what makes CHO different.”

Another challenge presented itself a few years ago when “we lost our way and focus”, according to Anthony.

“We tried to do too many things with too many people and lost sight of who we are and our core business.”

It was a valuable lesson: “We don’t do that anymore!,” he adds.

Anthony says the most popular brands CHO offers include Barbour International, Hugo Boss, Hunter and Birkenstock among others.

“At CHO, you’ll find all the best quality women’s fashion styles and accessories from dresses and shoes to scarves and bags, and our men’s designer clothing range features a selection of the most popular men’s labels,” says Anthony.

With a passion for all things lifestyle, not just clothing, CHO also offers a range of homeware, accessories and gifts “to help you fill your home with designer personality and timeless country style”.

“We pride ourselves on our first-class customer service and prompt delivery systems, so feel free to get in touch with our dedicated team if you have any questions,” says Anthony.

But a new addition is giving the retailer reason to be even more cheerful: “We do well at this time of year with outerwear and we are super-excited about our latest brand Ralph Lauren – we have high hopes for this make to become one of our top sellers,” he says.

“That is all part of the ethos for developing CHO.

“Our aim is to keep on improving, never resting on our laurels.

“We are really lucky as we have a terrific team working for us and we will continue to choose new brands that complement the range we currently sell,” he adds.

“We will always look to do the best job we possibly can.”

CHO can be found at:

Tel: 01228 595 353