London designers blend creativity with commerce at fashion week

Sun Sep 20, 2015 3:06pm EDT
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - London Fashion Week has sharpened its business focus over the past few years to usher in a new generation of fashion designers who blend creativity with a healthy dose of commerce.

Long known as the little sister to Paris, Milan and New York, London is fast becoming the place to build a successful fashion business and is home to leading brands like Burberry, Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.

The emergence of a new generation of commercially savvy designers has made the city a key destination for global brands and retailers wanting to pair up with designers on projects ranging from soft drinks packaging to dolls' accessories.

London Fashion Week is estimated to bring in around 100 million pounds ($155 million) worth of orders each season, according to the British Fashion Council.

This year has seen more tie-ups with non-fashion brands, such as Sophia Webster's work with toymaker Mattel on designing a range of shoes for Barbie dolls, and a J.W. Anderson collaboration with Diet Coke - to name but a few.

Webster, who showcased a collection of colorful patterned heels and sandals at a mermaid-themed presentation, said she had been approached by Mattel to design a new Barbie range.

"It was my dream collaboration, it's a perfect fit for my brand. It's definitely a good way to reach a wider audience," she told Reuters.

Such projects help generate funds to invest in fledging businesses and raise designers' profiles among a range of new audiences.   Continued...

Models present creations from the Gareth Pugh Spring/Summer 2016 collection during London Fashion Week in London, Britain September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett