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‘Silicon Valley of the fashion world’: East London Fashion District launches in bid to boost manufacturing and fashion industries

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:07 11 September 2018

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, highlighted the impact the East London Fashion District would have on the area's manufacturing potential. Picture: John Nguyen/PA Wire

Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, highlighted the impact the East London Fashion District would have on the area's manufacturing potential. Picture: John Nguyen/PA Wire

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This week marked the launch of the East London Fashion District.

Student Gwendolyn Dwumaah-Kankam, mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz, MP for East Ham Stephen Timms, and student Adelaide Laureta, customising T-shirts. Picture: John Nguyen/PA WireStudent Gwendolyn Dwumaah-Kankam, mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz, MP for East Ham Stephen Timms, and student Adelaide Laureta, customising T-shirts. Picture: John Nguyen/PA Wire

The project, which took four years to complete, is a hub of businesses, workspaces and technology opportunities, designed to boost the fashion and manufacturing industry in east London.

The district is a collaboration between the University of the Arts London, the London College of Fashion, housing association Poplar HARCA, the London Legacy Development Corporation, and the London Fashion Fund. It has been supported by the mayor’s Good Growth Fund, which has invested almost £2million.

Monday’s launch at designer Christopher Raeburn’s studio in Hackney Wick was attended by MP Stephen Timms, partners of the project, aspiring designers and fashion students.

Frances Corner, head of London College of Fashion, said: “At LCF, we talk all the time about shaping lives through fashion. That’s why we exist, and that’s why we were set up – to provide training and skills for young women who were working in London’s couture houses. More than a 100 years later, LCF is maintaining this commitment to nurturing talent and opportunity.

Frances Corner, head of The London College of Fashion. Picture: John Nguyen/PA WireFrances Corner, head of The London College of Fashion. Picture: John Nguyen/PA Wire

“In east London, the revival of fashion, both in designing and making, is contributing major growth. I’m hopeful that for the next 10 years, we’ll see a major shift in our industry, and that east London will be at the heart of it.”

An independent report, commissioned in 2017 bu UAL, LCF and the mayor, showed east London is already home to 23 per cent of London’s fashion businesses, but because of high rents and difficulties in designers accessing funding, the potential for the area’s industry to grow has been limited.

The district will make opening businesses, studying fashion, and accessing fashion technology, easier for people in east London. One of the sites, the Trampery Fish Island near the Olympic Park, is a campus of fashion studios which will offer working spaces at low rents. In 2022, the London College of Fashion will move to a campus on the East Bank in Stratford.

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, said: “This is reinvigorating for east London’s manufacturing industry. East London has a long history of fashion, and that’s why having this district here is so important. Down their own streets, people will be able to see the industry at work.”

Justine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and creative industries, speaking at the launch of the East London Fashion District. Picture: John Nguyen/PA WireJustine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and creative industries, speaking at the launch of the East London Fashion District. Picture: John Nguyen/PA Wire

The hub will place particular emphasis on pioneering technology, investing money into new technologies, with the hopes of making east London “the Silicon Valley of the fashion world”.

UAL’s Edward Venning said: “There are innovations in the pipeline which will transform the way you and I wear clothes. When we did the report, we found there was a lot of high-quality, high-tech fashion businesses in east London. East Londoners have had it tough for a long time, but this is an opportunity for people who are working in the industry to grow.”

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