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Fashion District Festival Round-Up: Part One

This is the first in a series of two blogs showcasing the events that took place during our recent Fashion District Festival. Part Two will be published next Thursday.

The first Fashion District Festival is officially over! Our five-day festival celebrating sustainability and innovation in fashion featured a jam-packed schedule, with a huge variety of interactive sessions and events.

Our first blog presents a round-up of festival programming that was aimed at supporting emerging designers and start-ups, from our Festival pop-up shop and market to our numerous panels, fireside chats and interactive sessions helping young brands discover how to tap into the industry and grow to their fullest potential.

Festival Pop-Up Shop & Market

Our pop-up shop was the heart of the festival, showcasing ethical, sustainable brands and emerging designers to Westfield Stratford shoppers. Alongside independent designers hand-selected by Fashion District, the shop also featured brands from RETURE and Lone Design Club, as well as unique, fun pieces available to rent courtesy of By Rotation. Childrenswear resale brand, Dotte, also featured in the Shop, running activities with customers’ little ones and encouraging shoppers to think about how they could make their children’s wardrobes more sustainable.

Working with Westfield, the Fashion District team designed a multi-use retail space, featuring bold vinyl stickers and a beautiful multi-coloured palette created to highlight the incredible selection of brands featured. The space not only featured clothing and accessories from the brands, but was also a hub for activity, hosing an LDC designer meet-up which facilitated new connections between independent designers, as well as a fabric bin courtesy of the materialist, created to provide a new lease of life to leftover fabric cuttings.

Alongside the main pop-up shop, the Festival also hosted a Market in collaboration with long-term Fashion District partners Waltham Forest Fashion. Featuring independent brands alongside sellers of pre-loved and vintage fashion, the market was a unique and fun event that allowed shoppers to discover impressive East London based fashion.   

I was very happy with [the] Fashion District Festival, it was great for collaborations, networking, getting my brand out there and showcasing my pieces to potential clients.

Gosia Wolinska, Founder of Wolinska London

GROW: Supporting emerging designers and start-ups

Alongside our pop-up shop and market, another fundamental element to the festival was our GROW pillar. Devised specifically to support emerging designers and early stage start-ups, GROW events were hosted by a number of Fashion District partners and encouraged attendees to learn, network and develop their brands. The sessions provided tips and tricks from more established founders, whilst also discussing how participants could ensure their brands had ethical and sustainable foundations.

Some GROW highlights include a series of events hosted by the British Council, where The Trampery organised sessions with a focus on sustainability and ethics. This included ‘Good Work For Fashion’, an initiative supported by Fashion District with the Greater London Authority, London Legacy Development Corporation and The Trampery, which aims to promote more ethical employment practices within the fashion industry. The Materialist also hosted a fascinating and timely panel exploring how businesses and designers can source second-life fabrics and incorporate them into their business strategies.

The Fashion District team also organised a series of fireside chats hosted at The Stratford, focusing on fashion’s future and including discussions on transparency, diversity and inclusivity. Featuring expert speakers like Victoria Jenkins from adaptive clothing brand Unhidden, Deborah Latouche, Founder of modest, luxury brand SABIRAH and Jodi Muter-Hamilton from Fashion Roundtable and Other Day.

I loved how open-hearted the panelists were, and how well they communicated inclusivity issues that permeate the industry

Quote from Festival attendee at ‘An Inclusive Future for Fashion’

What’s Next?

One of our crucial aims at the festival was to champion emerging designers and start-ups, building awareness and introducing a new audience to the amazing clothes, accessories and products being created in London. This has never been more vital than in our post-Covid world, where retail has been impacted so profoundly, and where smaller businesses are still recovering from the changed dynamics of the past year and a half.

Now that the Festival is over, we will continue to look for innovative ways to support designers and founders. We are currently planning our programme for next year, and will be building off of the legacy of the Fashion District Festival to ensure that we continue to develop connections and support up and coming brands.  

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