Future Of London Fashion Week

What does the future for London Fashion Week hold? The British Council do not seem to wield the same power that organisations in New York, Paris and Milan seem to render, nor do they seem to be able to attract the same level of international buyers and press. Whereas in other countries celebrities, top buyers and designers are flown-in and given a first-class treatment, we tend to send ours on a never-ending journey to an inflatable tent South of the river.

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Partly because London doesn’t have a ‘big name’ showing. Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Roland Mouret all show abroad instead of in their home town, LFW simply doesn’t draw an influential crowd. Even if talented designers such as Giles are heralded as the ‘next big thing’ it doesn’t inspire Anna Wintour to take the next jet to our capital.

Disappointment wasn’t only amongst the quality of designers showing, but also with the exhibition itself – primarily its venue. The move to Battersea Park from Sloane Square and previously South Kensington proved a move in the wrong direction. Not easily reached in terms of transport from Central London, many buyers were delayed on Sunday when Circle and District lines were not running and buses were far and infrequent in between.

The British Fashion Council is hoping that LFW will return to either to Sloane Square or the Natural History Museum next season, but both these venues would only be able to accommodate one catwalk. BFC chief executive John Wilson told Drapers there would be discussions with exhibitors, designers and buyers after the event about the Battersea venue.

As many designers and popular brands have UK agents and showrooms, LFW gets bi-passed for exhibiting. Why would a dynamic, fashionable brand pay thousands of pounds to show at Battersea when it has a central London showroom that is easily accessible? It certainly isn’t worth the investment for picking up new international clients, of which few tend to buy new British brands.

The exhibition’s increasing focus on lingerie, accessories and footwear was noted by some buyers. Of the 165 brands showing this season, 93 had read-to-wear ranges.

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