OLYMPIC EFFORT: London is hoping that some 80 unused parking garages in East London will soon be a hotspot for emerging fashion talent thanks to a funding injection from Mayor Boris Johnson’s new 20 million pound, or $28.5 million, Regeneration Fund.
The Fashioning Poplar project in the Tower Hamlets neighborhood of East London has received 1.8 million pounds, or $2.5 million, that has been earmarked for refurbishing the abandoned garages. The new spaces should be ready in fall 2017.
“High streets and town centers the length and breadth of London are a hive of economic activity fueled by creative minds,” said Johnson. “It’s important that we make sure they continue to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving city and the talented people who are key to its future success. It’s fantastic to see so many applicants to this fund, offering innovative ways to nurture and support the dynamism and creativity that will power our economy in the years ahead.”
The Fashioning Poplar project is a partnership between the University of the Arts London, London College of Fashion and Poplar HARCA, a housing association. The project could not have come at a better time: Property prices and rents in East London are on the rise, and small and emerging labels are finding it increasingly difficult to find studio space.
“Fashioning Poplar heralds our move east to Olympicopolis in 2021,” said Frances Corner, who is head of London College of Fashion and pro-vice chancellor, University of the Arts London. As reported, the London College of Fashion plans to move east in 2021. It will move from six buildings in central London to a new campus on the site of the 2012 London Olympics.
Corner said the latest Poplar project “supports existing East London fashion enterprises, creates further economic growth, and social engagement initiatives for the area. It is a hugely significant step along the road to an East London Fashion Cluster.”
The half-acre site is located near the A12 highway and will see a renovation of 81 unused parking garages. The revamped site will include studios, a business space, a manufacturing area and a fashion technology incubator. In addition, a public café, events area and an outdoor space will be built. The project will create 40 full-time positions.
Within the business space, there will also be commercial space, overseen by The Trampery, a social enterprise that operates work spaces for the tech, travel, art and fashion sectors. Last August, The Trampery was forced to leave its former East London space after the landlord raised the rent by 400 percent. Designers James Long, Holly Fulton, Jonathan Saunders and Lou Dalton had been based in the London Fields building.
Poplar HARCA chief executive officer Steve Stride said the Poplar project will create a “unique end-to-end opportunity” for the fashion sector, combining design, enterprise, tech, making and manufacturing and selling. “It will be embedded in the community providing jobs, training and workspace locally, ensuring talent is created and nurtured in this hugely exciting part of east London.”