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FashionCapital featured by Plymouth Herald

May 21, 2024 - May 21, 2024   

Following the success of our second trunk show in Plymouth, we have been featured by the Plymouth Herald…

 “Plymouth could have a clothing factory in Union Street employing more than 100 people ”“ in the building that once housed the famous Jaeger plant.

Plymouth College of Art is exploring the idea of creating a “sampling unit” which would produce small quantities of clothing ”“ samples ”“ and enable their designers to then approach larger producers.  The college is working with the Millfields Community Economic Development Trust on the proposal, which could see the unit open in the HQ business centre as a social enterprise.

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That building was formerly the Jaeger clothing factory, which closed in 1998 with the loss of 250 jobs.  The sampling unit would need fewer staff, probably starting with about five and growing to 20 people within a few years, but with potential to grow further.

The college has been working with Jenny Holloway, chief executive of London-based Fashion Capital, which has a sampling unit and factory employing more than 100 people.  The college already has about £85,000 in social enterprise funding but needs another £250,000 to bring the project forward.  It could then establish a factory that could produce as few as 50 units of a design, but could go up to 500, depending on the client.  Hannah Harris, director of development, said this funding could come from venture capital grant-making foundations or from an industry partner.

“For the past year or so we have been working with Millfields Trust and other organisations to look at how we could support recent graduates, new designers and SMEs to build their businesses.  We want to start a sampling unit here in Plymouth,” she said.  “We are hoping to launch early in 2018 subject to funding and are going through the business plan now.  We want to hear from anyone that wants to use the service or work in the industry.”  She said the idea would be to focus on “quality” clothing and tap into the city’s past as a fashion centre.  “Plymouth has a heritage of making, we used to be great at manufacturing, and celebrated it as a career and skill,” Mrs Harris said.  “So we are hoping to be in the HQ building as homage to Jaeger.”

Paul Singleton, associate dean of design at the college, said Plymouth had once had a thriving clothing industry, with factories producing gloves, shoes and swimwear.  “We want to bring that back,” he said. “The unit would start small but grow with the ability to employ people locally. And we feel the business model should be fiercely competitive.”

Details of the sampling unit plan were revealed at a major all-day industry summit at Royal William Yard.  Mrs Holloway was among guest speakers at the How to Succeed in Fashion Today UK Trunk Show.  Mrs Holloway said: “Plymouth has academic excellence already with Plymouth College of Art, and now we have to harness that talent and create the businesses of tomorrow that will bring the London buyers to the South West.  You don’t have to move to London, you can make it here. Plymouth has huge potential.”

To read the full feature click here


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