Skip to main content
Design Futures is now open for applications!


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!

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on this year’s design innovation challenge and more exciting opportunities and events:

Design Futures 2022 Launch at The Lab E20

Last week we celebrated the launch of Design Futures 2022 in collaboration with PANGAIA.

Taking place at The Lab E20, the event offered attendees the chance to hear from our panel of judges including Craig Smith (PANGAIA), Shajila Dube (Institute of Positive Fashion), Laetitia Forst (Centre for Circular Design), Phoebe English and Sarah Mower, about this year’s design innovation challenge. 

Speaking to the crowd, Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, said she was ‘excited by the energy of the challenge,’ as well as the conversation that arose throughout the night. 

Kicking off the event was our keynote speaker Marilyn Martinez from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who stressed the importance of designing for reuse, as well as factoring in emotional durability and customer experience. ‘Collaboration is key,’ Marilyn said. ‘We need to think about how we include people in the conversation, both consumers and big businesses. This will bring about true change.’ Marilyn also highlighted the importance of designing circular business models and supply chains. ‘It’s okay to start small. You have to start somewhere,’ Marilyn added. ‘Circular design is a journey but there is a huge purpose – you’re making a difference.’ 

Afterwards our judging panel took to the stage to share what they’re looking for in this year’s challenge. Craig Smith, Research and Development Director of Pangaia, said he’s looking for ‘a fresh perspective and originality’ while also highlighting that applicants should be transparent in ‘acknowledge where they might need support.’ Finally, he signed off by calling attention to the  4 F’s: Fit, Fabric, Form and Function.  

Shailja Dube emphasized she’ll be paying close attention to construction – how the garment can be reprocessed and taken apart – as well as the scalability of the business model.

Dr Laetitia Forst urged applicants to think about every element of design and what it implies. ‘Being aware of the product’s context can be a good way of showing you’re a conscious designer,’ Laetitia told the crowd.

Sarah Mower said she’ll be on the lookout for proof of concept and innovation, before adding that she hopes the garments will look beautiful. ‘There has to be a reason for the design to exist. Don’t design something that’s ugly.’ She also stressed that having the buyer in mind is incredibly important and wants applicants to think about how they are going to communicate their product. 

Phoebe English said she’s keen to see ‘something that people will treasure,’ as well as ‘careful, considered thinking.’ ‘I want to see designers understand the purpose of their product,’ Phoebe said. ‘Producing less and thinking carefully is key right now.’

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to design a new sustainable solution? Want to be in with a chance of winning £15,000? Applications for Design Futures 2022 are now open!

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news about this year’s design innovation challenge

Come along to the launch of our next Innovation Challenge: Design Futures 2022

Thursday 5 May | 18:00 – 20:00
The Lab E20, 3-4 East Park Walk, East Village, London, E20 1JB

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our next innovation challenge Design Futures 2022, in collaboration with PANGAIA. Join us on May 5 at The Lab E20 to find out more about this year’s challenge, hear from renowned leaders in fashion sustainability, and network with London’s fashion, tech and innovation communities.

About the Challenge

Fashion District challenges are designed to find innovative solutions to current industry issues across retail, manufacture and design. This year we’re spotlighting design and honing in on circularity. We welcome applications from sustainably-driven fashion designers who believe that they have the potential to revolutionise the design process. Areas could include:

Applicants will be in with the chance of winning cash prizes, support, and the opportunity to pitch to some of the industry’s leading brands and innovators.

Meet the Judges

Design Futures 2022 brings together high-profile fashion and sustainability experts committed to supporting the next wave of innovation. Come along to the launch to hear from our esteemed judging panel, including:

We’ll also be joined by Elodie Rousselot, Strategic Design Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who will deliver a keynote speech at the launch. Elodie’s expertise and recent experience leading on the recent Circular Design for Fashion book will undoubtedly make for a motivational and thought-provoking introduction to Design Futures 2022.

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to receive updates about this exciting event!

Fashion District: Investment Event Series

Fashion District’s first ever investment event series is coming to you on April 7. Taking place at The Lab E20, these events will give you the chance to connect with fashion professionals and investors, partake in workshops, and find out about new businesses and innovations launching in the fashion space.

We’re collaborating with experts in communication, investment and innovation to help upgrade your pitching skills and guide you on the next steps in your business journey. Find out how to make moves towards your career aspirations and secure the funding you deserve! 

Sign up to any of our free events below: 

Pitching Workshops with Amy Tez
12:00 – 14:00 | 14:30 – 16:30

Keen to brush up on your pitching skills? Communication strategist Amy Tez has got you covered. Join her workshop to learn how to influence your audience through the power of storytelling, command a room – both online and offline – and unite your peers behind a shared goal.

During this interactive workshop, you’ll be given a safe space to share your unique strengths and gaps, whilst gaining tailored advice on how to raise your game and escalate impact.

Unlike standard business training, Amy’s process is rooted in solid actor and storytelling techniques, as well as in performance psychology to get you communicating with far greater clarity and power.

1:1 Investment Clinics
15-minute sessions | 15:30 – 17:30

Fashion startups can book a 15-minute slot with investment and innovation experts to receive personalised advice on the next steps in their business journey. This is the perfect opportunity to gain insider tips and guidance from industry pros, find out how to get the funding you need to succeed.

Don’t miss out! Book your free 1:1 slot now with one of the following experts:

Jonathan Chippindale
Chairman of the London Fashion Fund and CEO of Holition, the renowned creative innovation studio, Jonathan is helping to shape the future of the industry. As well as acting as a Digital Advisor to the British Fashion Council and Innovation Advisor to Tate, Jonathan is a founding member of the London College of Fashion Digital Think Tank and advisor to the University of Cambridge Digital Compass Group.

Shanaya Curtis
Currently the Senior Equity Fundraising Manager at Crowdcube – one of Britain’s most popular crowdfunding platforms – Shanaya is primarily focused on sourcing and building relationships with Europe’s leading private companies. Her role entails advising start-ups and scale-ups on sources of investment and their ability to crowdfund.

Abi Mohamed
Abi is the Libra Programme Lead at Tech Nation, the leading growth platform for UK tech scaleups. With years of experience facilitating and helping UK tech companies scale, both at home and abroad, Abi leads on The Libra Programme – the newest growth programme for early-stage underrepresented founders scaling in the UK. Having previously worked as software engineer, Abi is also the co-founder of Community Growth Venture, an angel investor group based in the UK. 

Mandy Nyarko
Mandy is the co-founder of Startup Discovery School, an innovation consultancy that develops programmes for public and private organisations in the U.K that are focused on building sustainability startups. Aside from being an Angel Investor and Venture Partner at Ada Ventures, a 50M VC fund focusing on investing in overlooked founders, Mandy also serves as an advisor on the SME action board to the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Alexander Shapiro
Alexander works as an Investment Manager at The Conduit Connect, an investing company that scales innovative technologies and businesses that are solving challenging issues. Having obtained an MSc in Development Economics from the London School of Economics, Alexander has years of experience advising clients in the public sector on strategies to nurture impact focused businesses. 

Hannah Williamson
As an Investment Manager at Edge VC, Hannah focuses on deal flow generation and execution, particularly focusing on retail tech and content businesses. Previously, Hannah worked at the online retailer ASOS within the operational side of the business. Hannah holds a first-class honours degree in Fashion and Textile Management from Nottingham Trent University.

Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening
18:00 – 20:00

For our Pitcha Kucha investment evening, we are spotlighting 8 fashion startups and offering them the chance to pitch their hearts out to a panel of investors and industry experts. Join us for a fun, laidback evening where you can watch the most exciting emerging fashion businesses practice their pitching and receive quick-fire, friendly feedback.

The chosen fashion startups are each tackling key challenges in the fashion value chain with a variety of solutions spanning retail tech, manufacturing tech, materials innovation and experiential / digital technologies. This is the perfect chance to learn about emerging businesses and innovations that are entering the fashion space, whilst connecting with innovators, investors, designers, makers and entrepreneurs.

We’ll have a DJ on hand to bring The Lab E20 alive so, come along, grab a drink, and get to know like-minded individuals at the forefront of the industry – you do not want to miss this!

Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening: Expressions of Interest

UPDATE: Please note that expressions of interest are now closed for this event.

If you want to be in with the chance of pitching to our panel of investment and innovation experts at the Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening, we are currently still accepting expressions of interest to take part.

Check out our previous article to find out more, or simply fill in the EOI form by midnight on Monday 21st March to be in with a chance of pitching at the Pitcha Kucha Investment Evening.

Good Work for Fashion Roundtable and Workshops

17th + 24th Feb
The Lab E20, 3-4 East Park Walk, East Village, London, E20 1JB

Join The Trampery to explore how London’s fashion industry can adopt more sustainable, inclusive and ethical best practice with a series of workshops and roundtable discussions.

These events are hosted by The Trampery, in partnership with The Mayor of London, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Fashion District.

Roundtable Discussions
17th + 24th Feb, 10:00 – 13:00

Inviting London’s fashion industry to help shape the future of ‘Good Work’ for fashion, The Trampery will be hosting two roundtable discussions where organisations and brands can explore this important topic and consider how best practice can be shared within the capital.

17th Feb, 14:30 – 17:00

A two-part workshop focussed on good social and environmental governance within the fashion industry. This workshop will provide practical advice on how to implement best practice across supply chains and within head offices.

24th Feb, 14:30 – 17:00

A two-part panel discussion focussed on how to create a more equitable and representative fashion industry. The panel will share their experience on a wide range of topics from fair pay and a Living Wage, how to improve diversity and inclusion in the sector, and recruitment and employment best practices.

These events will also introduce how The Mayor’s Good Work Standard can be implemented for London’s fashion businesses, and are aimed at fashion brands, retailers, manufacturers and support organisations.

Together we can ensure London remains one of the most innovative, inclusive and sustainable fashion capitals.

Lone Design Club – Designer Call Out

Lone Design Club (winners of Fashion District’s Retail Futures 2020) are looking for fresh new designers to showcase across their channels! They are cultivating a community of innovative brands who are:

As part of the Lone Design Club community, you will have the opportunity to showcase your designs in LDC’s experiential concept stores across the world, as well as on their 24/7 online store. This is an amazing chance to connect with new markets of ethical and mindful shoppers and grow your brand!

How It Started

Lone Design Club was founded on the notion of rising-up, taking control and changing the future of retail; like-minded emerging fashion and lifestyle brands coming together to challenge the high-street with fresh new concepts and a focus on unique, ethically produced pieces.

The starting point was a series of short-term concept stores appearing for 1-2 weeks at a time in London, at first, and now across the globe. Experiences and events followed, allowing designers an intimate outlet to tell their stories directly to shoppers – creating real connections between brands and customers. Shortly after, Lone Design Club launched its 24/7 online store, giving their community a new avenue to reach wider markets.

Lone Design Club operates now through both physical and digital platforms – allowing consumers to discover and shop from independent brands with traceable and mindful practices, selling exclusive and one-of-a-kind items.

LDC has exciting plans for the coming year – with “The Next Normal” pop-up and a Fashion and Lifestyle Festival in the works, there’s no better time to join the community!

For more information visit

Instagram: @lonedesignclub

Join the Business of Textiles of Fashion, Textiles & Technology Partnership Network

Join the BFTT Network and have your say shaping the future sustainable development of the fashion industry.

The Business of Fashion, Textiles & Technology Partnership, is one of 9 Creative Industries Clusters and 1 Policy and Evidence Centre which the government is investing £80m into new creative R&D partnerships. In partnership with the UK Industrial Strategy, BFTT have launched a nationwide survey and looking for business owners/founders up and down the country working in all aspects of fashion – from workspace providers to womenswear; museums to materials; agriculture to advertising and beyond to take part.

By completing the survey, responders will inform research and join the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT) network. The network will be the first to hear about important rounds of R&D funding, gain exclusive access to the report findings, and partnership events.

Complete the survey here:

APPLY NOW: DeFINE Fashion-Tech Mentoring Programme

DeFINE is thrilled to announce the launch of applications for the 8 month Mentoring Programme, designed for fashion-tech start-ups and SMEs.

We are focused on helping you develop your innovative ideas and improve your innovation management practices. We will provide you with 80 hours of mentoring support, to guide you through the innovation process. By the end of the mentoring programme, you should have a prototype or proof of concept of a new product, process or new business model.

Deadline: 15th August, 2019

SPACE: Free Studio Space & Business Support for UAL/CFE Alumni at Poplar Works!

Poplar Works, a new space within the Fashion District, will be a new home for East London’s fashion economy.

The exciting new development on 384 Abbott Road, Poplar, E14 0UX will co-locate workspace, manufacturing and education facilities, and is a partnership between Poplar HARCA, London College of Fashion, UAL and the Trampery.

Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE), London’s pioneering fashion and fashion tech business incubator and part of London College of Fashion, UAL, in collaboration with award-winning Poplar HARCA, are opening applications for eight brand new solo and shared studio spaces, which will become available for emerging SME fashion and fashion tech businesses from Autumn 2019.

Over 30% of London’s fashion SMEs are based in East London and over the last 15 years CFE have supported many of them. Building on their expertise, they seek to develop a new model of fashion business support, and curate a community of businesses committed to innovative practices and collaboration at the new studios.

Visit CFE to apply for up to two years studio space, with business support, Up to two years free studio space, business support, business support, executive coaching and more.

Deadline to apply: 28 July 2019, 11.59pm


PORTER and YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP believe in a world where everyone can reach their potential without barriers, and now want to inspire more Incredible Girls to become the creators of the future.

If you’re aged 16-25 and have an idea for an original fashion app that could positively impact the world and prompt change, then you could be in with a chance of winning a mentorship with the team behind pioneering online luxury retailer YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP. Plus, you’ll receive up to £1,000* to spend on NET-A-PORTER with your very own personal shopper.

For more details on the competition visit Net-a-Porter.

This competition is now closed.