Perception-changing tattoo and cosmetic hub Debut Studios opens permanently in Harvey Nichols Manchester

Contemporary tattoos, nail art and semi-permanent makeup, delivered by some of the best in the business.

By Lucy Holt | 4 June 2024

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When Alex Lloyd opened Debut Studios, he wanted to create a studio offering tattoos and contemporary cosmetic procedures that didn’t feel elitist, intimidating or like you have to have a load of knowledge to step foot in the door. And it’s true that the space doesn’t scream dingy tattoo parlour. Located on the ground floor of iconic high-end department store Harvey Nichols, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Exchange Square, the first word that springs to mind is ‘light’. For Alex – who came of age on the tattoo scene, but always knew there was something about it that felt a little off – it’s all about openness.

“The foundation is trust” he says, “that means we work with doctors on our injectable treatments to ensure safety, and we deliver really great customer service.” He’s not wrong: the customer service IS great. All the technicians are lovely, eager to see reference images and work through their ideas with the clients.

The beauty bar is in a different location, still on the ground floor, and the decor is very Scandi, think minimal and calming. Exactly the kind of environment we’d want to be in if we were getting, say, our eyebrows or lips tattooed on semi-permanently. No, they can’t stop the procedures from hurting a little, but they’re very good at creating a relaxed and safe-feeling environment in which to have them.

Tattoos have never been more popular, no longer the preserve of alternative subcultures. Alex says that what he really loves is speaking to people who have an interest in tattoos, but haven’t really known how to proceed in the past. He feels that it’s important that people can just make a booking online, which isn’t the case with a lot of studios where you have to approach an artist and have a conversation before an appointment is confirmed. And he’s really proud of the talent they have at the studio. “Line work is really popular at the moment” he explains, adding that the in-demand style, which is achieved with a single super-fine needle, is extremely hard to master. The artists at Debut Studios are some of the most talented in the city, while over at the nail bar, skilled technicians create mini-masterpieces so intricate they defy logic. 

What’s obvious when spending some time at Debut Studios is that it’s not just about aesthetics. Alex and his team love tattooing and practising these treatments because it’s so much more than just the end result. They feel like they’ve tapped into an connected scene of creatives and recently collaborated with alternative designer clothing store END, and MAC cosmetics, with more collaborations in the pipeline.

They say once you get your first tattoo you’re hooked, so it’s no wonder we’re already rocking matching margarita-themed tattoos and a citrusy manicure.