On the Road to Restoring Former Glory: Fonthill Road – Mecca of Fashion
CEO of Fashion-Enter Jenny Holloway comments on the rebirth of fashionable Fonthill Road, London N4…
‘When I was a selector at M&S the only place to find out what was fashionable was Fonthill Road in Islington. You had to walk in the middle of the road, cars were not allowed, and the place was heaving.
‘Fonthill Road was where you found the greatest styles, the newest looks, the seasons colour themes and bargains of course. This was all possible because Fonthill Road traders were buying from local manufacturers in London and Leicester and any overs were then sold on.
‘During the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s retailers moved more and more production away from the UK and started to use off-shore with China and then near shore with Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania. This virtually killed of UK manufacturing! However pockets of British manufacturers, such as Fashion-Enter, found a niche and then waited patiently for the tide to turn back to ‘Made in the UK’. And at last the tide is turning.
‘Bricks and mortar retail is under pressure from the etailers, and etailers demand speed of response. Gone are the days of the two seasons: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter trends, now it’s all about rolling ranges and buying in season. If you snooze you loose and thankfully at Fashion-Enter we have built an exceptional team of talented individuals that are now creating the right designs at the right price and all made in the UK from our factories both in Wales and London.
‘Now we are in a position where we can seriously help the traders of Fonthill Road. We have already been on the road with Andrew Paschalis, Local Economy Officer for Finsbury Park, and started to network directly with them. One wholesaler has planned to come and visit the factory to see our latest designs (created in-house by Beth Head of Creative) and then review the fabrics that we have on the shelf ready to supply just 20-50 pieces a time.
‘It’s a start and it’s going to take time but at least we have engagement and we so support how hard these traders are working. We are already working with a cross section of companies with the lovely Leyla being based at the FC Designer Collective on Fonthill Road. We deliberately located our ace sample machinist there so she can undertake alterations, repairs and bespoke items at reduced rates for Islington residents. This has worked so well as you can see by the images below.
‘The Islington sustainable fashion cycle is well and truly here. Time to put Islington fashion well and truly back on the map. What we need now is an all-inclusive website that shows the dynamism of the creative businesses both on the Fonthill strip and at the designer workspace.’