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Meet Design Futures 2022 Prize Giver: Anglo American Sewing Machines

Anglo American Sewing Machines is a company with a difference – for one thing, they have a long, colourful history. 

“My grandfather started with just a couple of second hand machines after WW2,” Marc Shaffer, owner of Anglo American Sewing Machines, says. “Word spread, and then my father and uncle opened the first Anglo American Sewing Machines shop in East London in 1970.”

The company is now over 60 years old, with three shops in London and a slew of major clients all across the globe. “We look after all the big designers and fashion boutiques, as well as schools, colleges and universities and big airline companies. We really pride ourselves on our longstanding clients.”

Renowned for selling industrial sewing machines and ironing equipment, Anglo American Sewing Machines also offer a bespoke maintenance service and machine rental service – and now, they’ll be adding another string to their bow as sponsors of our Design Futures 2022 prize. “We’re thrilled to be offering a brand new sewing machine to the winner of Fashion District’s upcoming innovation challenge. We want to play our part in helping the future of design and we can’t wait to support the designer or brand that wins.”

Why did you decide to partake in Design Futures 2022? 

“Our entire company has been founded on helping people and offering a great service. Design Futures 2022 is exciting because we can really help somebody get started and take the next steps in their design career. We’ll try to be with them every step of the way and offer support in any way we can. We’ve had people work with us for 40 years and we hope this will be the case with the winner of the prize.”

Have you noticed your clients in the fashion industry adopting more sustainable methods?

“Yes. After the pandemic, a number of studios brought production back to Britain to ensure quality control and also for sustainable reasons. A lot of people are also opting for our rental service and using our direct drive sewing machines which use 70 percent less than a standard industrial sewing machine. They only run when your foot is on the pedal so they are a more sustainable option.” 

Over the decades, your company has seen a lot of changes in the London fashion industry. Do you feel hopeful about the future of the industry?

“The rag trade had its peak in the 1970s, London was booming then! But when I joined my family’s company in the 1990s, a lot of brands and companies went overseas, mainly to China, which really impacted businesses. We certainly had to change what we were doing and think about new ways we could benefit customers. Since the pandemic however, a lot of companies are keeping things in Britain which does make me feel hopeful. Although, I really hope the government starts putting more money into training people on industrial machines as there aren’t enough workers at the moment. But yes, overall I am hopeful. I think designers and companies are making different choices now. They care a lot more about quality and sustainability, which is wonderful to see.”

To be in with the chance of winning a brand new sewing machine from Anglo American Sewing Machines, apply to take part in Design Futures 2022 now!

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