London fires up catwalks, aims for spot as global 'fashion destination'

Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:51pm EDT
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - British designers kicked off the London leg of the fashion calendar's womenswear season on Friday with a call to celebrate London as a global "fashion destination" on a par with Paris, Milan and New York.

Known for its edgy street style, London is often called fashion's loveable rogue for its eclectic mix of new designers and established brands such as Burberry, Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood's Red Label.

Many of the country's major fashion names, such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood's Gold Label, unveil their collections abroad, however.

On a rainy London morning, British Fashion Council (BFC) chairman Natalie Massenet declared London Fashion Week open and said the council would promote "London street style (which) inspires trends around the world".

"It is paramount that we secure London's reputation as a place where fashion stars are born," she told fashionistas just arrived from New York's fashion week at a breakfast. "We want to cement London's reputation as the destination for fashion."

Massenet introduced a team of experts who will work to promote British fashion through five pillars - reputation, business, investment, digital innovation and education - including James McArthur, chief executive of handbag designer Anya Hindmarch, and Peter Fitzgerald, country sales director at Google UK.

An industry worth 21 billion pounds ($33 billion), fashion is Britain's largest employer of all the creative industries, according to the BFC.

"We want to support the CEOs, the pattern-cutters, the PR directors, marketing directors, sales directors and of course the designers of the future in order to inspire more people to join this industry," Massenet said.   Continued...

Models are reflected in mirrors backstage at the Felder Felder Spring/Summer 2014 collection during London Fashion Week September 13, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris