From Disused Car Park to Designer Workspace
On Thursday 2nd September Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL) welcomed over 60 individuals, made up of community groups and Councillor’s, to its fully equipped FC Designer Workspace. For the last two years FEL has been working with Islington Council, Mayor of London and LEAP to transform what was a tired, disused car park into this innovative and affordable workspace that will support the borough’s designers and creatives.
The breakfast community launch was the first opportunity to open the doors to the workspace and invite Councillor’s, local community groups, stakeholders and press. Guests experienced the garment life cycle exhibition along with live pattern cutting and sewing demonstrations, and it was wonderful to see MP for Islington North Jeremy Corbyn get involved and try his hand on an industrial sewing machine!
Cllr Asima Shaikh
MP Jeremy Corbyn
Megan Dean, GLA
Caroline Wilson, Director of Inclusive Economy and Jobs
Simon Fuller, Curriculum Manager for Family Learning, English, Maths, ESOL and Community Learning Engagement
Nicky Freeling, Head of iWork Inclusive Economy and Jobs
Sewing and community group:
Majida Sayam, founder of Jannaty Women’s Social Society exhibited at the event, she also taught members of her women’s group how to use the industrial sewing machines.
Groups that also attended included:
One True Voice Islington
Holloway Neighborhood Group
Islington Refuge Forum
The Islington Turkish, Kurdish & Cypriot Group
IMECE Women’s Centre
FEL’s CEO Jenny Holloway commented: “Islington is the first borough I know that has created a full circular fashion economy. Residents can now have space to create and learn new skills then sell their collections in our Fonthill Road shop, a few streets away from the Workspace.
“At the FC Designer Workspace on Durham Road fabrics and trims are provided free of charge to start the brand off. State-of-the-art industrial machines all available. We are teaching from the space too, Level 1, 2 and 3 in stitching and pattern making. This shows how innovative public / private collaborations can work!
“Many thanks to the FEL team who worked so hard behind the scenes to create such a successful soft launch event.”
FEL Development Director Jenni Sutton added: “Today we opened the doors to the FC Designer Workspace for the community launch and it was a huge success! It was so wonderful to meet the local sewing and community groups and showcase what resources and services we can now offer to Islington residents. This is just the start of a truly visionary project supported by Islington Council, the Mayor of London and Leap.”
Dale Thompson, Regeneration & Economic Development Islington Council said:
“Last Thursday Islington Council in partnership with the GLA and Fashion-Enter, launched the FC Designer Workspace in Finsbury Park to the local community. A huge well done, to my team, colleagues across the Council, architect Studio Partington, constructor Osborne and all at operator, Fashion-Enter.
“I took a picture of the unloved and slightly smelly undercroft on the 22nd of December, as enabling works began on site. In the midst of COVID and as the impacts of Brexit were beginning to manifest in the construction sector. At that point it’s fair to say I was concerned but it’s a huge testament to the determination and hard work by all involved that we opened last week. So many people have helped get us to this point, it’s really tough to pick out any individuals but I have to thank Megan Dean at the GLA for her faith in us, Jenni Sutton at Fashion-Enter, who has lived and breathed this project for the last year, Alex Land and Mo Abolghasem at our constructors Osborne, who have gone above and beyond to deliver us a top quality space, in the most challenging of circumstances and Islington Council Project Manager, Ayodele Daodu, for not only bringing this space to fruition but the whole Finsbury Park Good Growth Fund programme. However, the biggest thanks go to the community and designers whom have been an integral part of the project since day one. The buzz at the launch was down to you and your stories are truly inspirational. This is what grass roots regeneration is all about.
“Three things that I think are worth noting:
1) You can achieve almost anything with great partnership.
2) Repurposing and revitalising underutilised public property assets is a win, win scenario.
3) Small interventions can have bigger impact than you might think – if done right.
“I believe this is already an exemplar project!”
Local Creative Director Lauren Morrison commented: “The borough of Islington Council has always influenced the fashion industry by its heritage of Fonthill Road, known for buying wholesale garments for the retail sector for the past 61-years.
“By supporting the local community and mixed diversification, whether you are a fashion designer or not, Islington Council and the FC Designer Workspace are providing the stepping stones to reskill, retrain, repurpose and restrategise your dreams once had or have.
“Thank-you Islington Council and FC Designer Workspace for creating a unique fashion workspace and shop supporting local skills and talent.”
FC Designer Workspace, 9 Durham Road, London N7,