One Year Later…Fashion – Enter 2020 Review
What a difference a year makes, and it is fair to say that 2020 has been one hell of a year! Who would have possibly known that just over one-year ago as we stumbled through ‘Auld Lang Syne’ we would be entering a pandemic that would completely change the way we live and work. Within a few months into the year Covid-19 dominated the headlines and Britain entered its first national lockdown. To say that we were about to enter a tough time was an understatement.
For most, the pandemic hit hard both emotionally and economically, adaptation was key as education, shopping and work became a ‘from home, online experience’. At Fashion-Enter Ltd, CEO Jenny Holloway and the management team also had to adapt fast and from the 1st April the Factory switched from tops and frocks to PPE for the NHS. With Covid-19 health and safety measures in place the Fashion-Enter Factory team has worked on PPE consistently since April and continues to do so, albeit in smaller quantities, today. Jenny comments: “We would like to express a huge thank-you to Private White who have kept us in constant work for the past six-months producing disposable scrubs.”
Looking back over the past year the team has managed to accept and adapt remarkably well to the challenges. Other highlights from 2020 include:
+ TikTok Residency. With Graduate Fashion Week cancelled the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF) announced a partnership with TikTok and Fashion-Enter Ltd. A unique 5-day creative residency was organised to give the Class of 2020 – students from 38 GFF member universities in the UK the opportunity to enter their ideas to design and produce TikTok’s first-ever range of merchandise in Europe. Two students selected from each university participated in the residency, which was held within Fashion-Enter’s professional factory environment in north London, giving a total of more than 70 students the opportunity to access practical industry experience and learn new skills.
Caroline Ash, Fashion-Enter Production Director commented: “It has been a very rewarding and enjoyable Residency with GFF and TikTok. The feedback was amazing and the students were very lucky for the opportunity to get an insight into factory production. The designs looked stunning and I feel the graduates learnt a lot about construction methods.”
+ The opening of the FC Designer Collective on Fonthill Road. At the end of 2019 Fashion-Enter Ltd secured a retail space thanks to a unique collaboration between Islington Council and the Mayor of London (Good Growth Fund). Soft launched in August 2020 the FC Designer Collective provides the opportunity for local designers and start-ups to gain a stockist and promote their brand. The space also houses fabrics, haberdashery and industrial sewing machines plus our highly skilled technician Leyla. She can help with any sewing requirements, offer bespoke and alteration services as well as one-to-one stitching tuition. The official launch took place in September and despite all the social distancing and Covid-19 restrictions we had a fantastic coverage from the local press.
+ N17 Creative Callings (N17CC) was set up at the end of 2019 to ensure continual development and growth of creative businesses and start-ups in the Tottenham area of north London. Fashion-Enter Ltd and Collage Arts work as one to deliver hand-held mentoring support and business advice that aims to assist businesses in the area to grow and prosper.
Since the project began we have supported a range of individuals with business planning, further tuition and skills development. This includes the likes of freelance sub editor/content editor, Graham Parker, he has expanded his skill set to include a Level 4 qualification in Digital Media. Lauren Morrison has been given business planning and manufacturing advice on her childrenswear brand Mi-Bambino, she was also advised to utilise her trend forecasting skills with a second business; Fashion-File. Karen Gold has received mentoring and production support for her eponymous fashion label and Layla Sargent received N17CC support to set up her online network for makers and fashion professionals, The Seam.
Visit the N17CC website to find out more about the programme.
+ Fashion-Enter Ltd Wales. We weren’t expecting to expand the production side of the business during a pandemic but when Jenny Holloway CEO heard about the collapse of Laura Ashley and its production team of skilled workers she just had to step in. Jenny said: “Many of the stitchers had loyally worked at Laura Ashley for more than 35-years. I couldn’t rest knowing they were going to lose their jobs. You don’t find experienced stitchers of that number anywhere anymore, they are like gold dust.”
At the beginning of October Fashion-Enter Ltd Wales opened its doors in the historic Pryce Jones building in Newtown, Powys, Wales. The team have been getting up to speed with orders for ASOS, PPE via Private White as well as gaining new clients and has also opened a Factory Outlet onsite.
+ Belles of London & B of London. With non-essential shops having to close for months at a time bricks and mortar retail has fared poorly with high street chains in particular, feeling the pinch. Online spending has surged and brands that combine the right ethics with a strong online offer have reaped the benefits. Fashion-Enter’s in-house labels Belles of London and diffusion line B of London, available via SilkFred.com, offer ‘Made in the UK’ fashion that combines quality and ethics and has seen an increase in sales as a result.
+ Happy learners and apprentices. It has also been a tough year for students, however, thanks to the beauty of technology we have continued to maintain contact and learning via online sources. We now hold our popular ‘Factory Uncovered’ tours via Zoom and have delivered many online seminars and masterclasses that engage and encourage participation. Additionally we have seen learners and apprentices develop their skills, confidence and gain jobs in the industry, all this against the dreaded backdrop of Covid-19. Fashion Technology Academy
So to conclude, 2020 is certainly a year we won’t forget, however the resilience, determination and readjustment from the team, the students and those that we work with has really shone through.
Best wishes for 2021 from the Fashion-Enter team!