Rag trade gets a renaissance in east London with £6m cash to make it the ‘global capital of fashion’

12th March 2018

A £6 million cash bonanza is being ploughed into boosting east London’s place as “the global capital of fashion technology”, the Mayor of London has announced.

An initial £1,994,000 is being put into projects to kickstart the fashion and creativity industry’s renaissance in Poplar, Bow and Old Ford.

This will trigger a further £4m in cash from by London Legacy Development Corporation, British Fashion Council and the Trampery work space providers, to get more people into work and increase training opportunities.

The funds are going into projects which have “strategic value” to the national economy and to the East End’s renowned rag trade and manufacturing heritage, following a successful bid by the ‘Fashion District’ partnership of the London College of Fashion and University Arts London.

One of the projects is ‘Fashioning Poplar’ to convert underused garages next to the A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach into low-cost design studios and education facilities.

The scheme by Poplar Harca housing association also includes a garment manufacturing and training hub to be run by London College of Fashion and 31 low-cost business units for fashion start-ups to be ready by next spring.

“This is about bringing fashion jobs, training and business back to the East End,” Poplar Harca’s chief executive Steve Stride said. “The investment recognises east London’s rich fashion and manufacturing heritage and its future growth.”

Another key project is Monier Road Studios run by Trampery work space providers in Old Ford fitting-out seven studios for fashion designers to help up-coming new labels enter the competitive global market. It is being completed by September as part of a ‘Fish Island’ fashion campus at Olympic Park.

Charles Armstrong, Trampery’s founder, said: “These are the first of what will be London’s largest fashion studios campus and a key to the new ‘Fashion District’.”

City Hall’s investment aims to develop more affordable workspace, improve skills and create a source of funding for the fashion industry in the Lower Lea Valley for entrepreneurs, students, community groups, businesses and employees.

But this is “just a taster” of what’s coming when the culture and education district opens at the Olympic Park, City Hall predicts.

The benefit of having a cluster of designers, colleges, cultural institutions and businesses will spill out beyond the park limits.