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Creative Hub

We are great believers that small is beautiful, it’s not that we are anti growth but we recognise that the fashion ecosystem should be diverse and varied, promoting many different ideals and views of the world. This is why we have always made support for small business a core aspect of our ethos and our work.

There’s no doubt it’s very hard to be small in the current economy; the production of all ‘commodities’, including fashion is modelled on reducing cost by increasing volume. Recognising the challenges of the industry as is, we encourage start up design businesses to clarify the unique nature of their proposition by focusing on what they truly value; we help them to establish effective partnerships and we encourage them to re-evaluate how they interact with their customer; we celebrate those who are willing to challenge and disrupt the current system, whilst sustaining themselves and the people and planetary resources upon which we all depend.

We are able to offer this support by partnering with other organisations most recently the Fashion and Textiles Museum on the Creative Hub project. These partnerships allow us to access funding which subsidises both group workshops and one-to-one mentoring. Over the last year our Business and Research Associate Alex McIntosh has mentored a diverse range of start ups including: Ada + Nik, Allumer, Beau Homme, Edie Mac, Delight Lonon, Claire Todd, Clover Lewis, Code le Vush, Frida larsen, Here Today Here Tomorrow, Holloway Smith Noir, Iris, Kapdaa, Katie Jones, Kipper Bespoke, Kitty Ferreira, Kitty Joseph, Martine Jarlgaard, Nadine Peters, Rosalie McMillan, Rutherford, Shake the Dust, She’s Lost Control, Soloman Appollo, Tengri.

We see a new set of values emerging from this work, designers who are able to connect their personal principles with their business practice. It is this human centred approach to design that we feel sure will contribute to a world where fashion and sustainability is no longer seen as an oxymoron.


Diversification

Image copyright of Tengri

We celebrate those who celebrate diversity both social and environmental.

The supply chain that Tengri has created challenges the notion that any one fibre should dominate the luxury market. Not only does the Tengri model support and maintain the traditions of nomadic culture but Yak herding also relieves the massive environmental stresses caused by the over grazing of cashmere goats. There are major logistical and cultural challenges involved in establishing Yak as a viable alternative to cashmere but Tengri are pioneers and their capacity to leverage support at every stage of the process is seeing results.


Experimentation

Rosalie McMillan

Developing something that is genuinely new requires experimentation and risk. You need to test the market, the message, the products and the processes. Finding what works and what doesn’t is a quintessential part of establishing a unique identity. It can be a frustrating – not to mention costly – journey, and many of the brands we are currently working with are navigating this path. Recognising that mistakes and failures are part of developing a sustainable and resilient business is key to embedding more innovative thinking in the fashion industry.

Rosalie McMillan is a new jewellery brand, inspired by the unique properties of unexpected materials, most notably coffee grounds. The experimentation process for Rosalie starts with the raw materials and runs throughout the design and business concept.


Activism

Holloway Smith Noir

Fashion businesses can be a force for social change, challenging ideas, assumptions, hierarchies and prejudices. The problem is that the activist is often at odds with the capitalist and so we see politics consigned, like so many other vital aspects of a thriving culture to the realms of the niche or the ‘uneconomic’.

Sophie Holloway uses her brand to challenge attitudes and social norms related to female sexuality. Her product is just one part of the picture; she also runs awareness-raising campaigns on female sexuality, gender relations and promotes the importance of slow sex.


Empathy

Image courtsey of Here Today Here Tomorrow

Our capacity for empathy is what makes us human. Business can foster empathy between people and cultures, acknowledging the struggle to survive that is still the story of many people’s lives globally and fostering ways of working that support this struggle.

Here Today Here Tomorrow design and make their collection in a highly empathetic and collaborative way, four women in the UK have set up a brand that supports the livelihoods of many women in Nepal, The product is reflective of a collaborative design process respecting the skills but also the limitations of their supply chain and working in a slow and systematic way to evolve and develop the business


Localism

We’re not here to advocate protectionism but we do believe that thinking local can promote greater connection and consideration; there is an inherent value in supporting the communities that surround us, utilising readily available resources be they new or re-appropriated and creating networks that can grow and flourish, Localism can be very challenging in a free market economy often sitting at odds with the prevailing trends, this is all the more reason to support those who show commitment and determination to this value system. Martine Jaarlgard is one of the brands we have been working with who produces her collection in London.