The FC Designer Collective is the result of a partnership between Islington Council, local communities and garment industry co-operative Fashion-Enter. The shop and workspaces have been co-funded by Islington Council and the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund. Launched in 2017 and delivered in partnership with the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), The Good Growth Fund seeks to make London fairer and more inclusive by strengthening civic networks at local level, encouraging innovation and supporting great design.
Fashion-Enter CEO Jenny Holloway with Rachel Kenyon from Buttress & Snatch
Mary Obaseki from Another Earthling
FC Designer Collective interior
Working closely with the local community is at the heart of the endeavour. Over the past 12 months, a local women’s sewing group has worked with Fashion-Enter to make sure the project meets the needs of local people. During the Covid-19 crisis, the group has been producing high-quality face coverings, with material provided by Fashion-Enter, and distributing these to local people in need.
As the next stage of the project, Fashion-Enter will now manage the retail space on behalf of Islington Council, providing local designers with a high street outlet to sell their work. In lieu of rent, it also provides business mentoring and training in tailoring and needlework to local creatives and community groups, to help kick-start their careers in the garment industry. Other fashion businesses in the Fonthill Road area are also set to benefit from the alterations service offered in the new store.
Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, said: “I’m thrilled to see the FC Designer Collective open for business. It really is a testament to what can be achieved with a shared vision for Islington’s economic recovery to build back better in the post-Covid world, creating a fairer, stronger economy that works for everyone.
“This is unique in so many ways – not just offering an experience you can’t find anywhere else, but really as a place that embodies our values. Community is at the heart of this. Running the shop as our first affordable retail space means local fledgling designer-makers can afford to sell their creations direct to the public, and partnering with Fashion-Enter means they can also access quality training and business support.
“Put together – community talent and industry expertise – this is a genuine route into meaningful and rewarding employment for Islington residents – and that is priceless when many in Islington have lost their jobs and need to retrain, or need help kick-starting a new career.”
Jules Pipe, London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, added: “We’re pleased to support this project which will create opportunities for the community, boost the local economy, support small businesses and create jobs which pay the London Living Wage.”
For shoppers, the new store – just moments from Finsbury Park station in Fonthill Road – offers the chance to not only support ethical, sustainable fashion but perhaps even help their neighbour forge a new future for themselves.
Jenny Holloway, chief executive of Fashion-Enter, said: “How forward-thinking is this! Islington is creating its own circular economy of creatives, with the FC Designer Collective providing a space for upskilling, qualifications and a quality place to sell collections.
“I have been in the fashion industry 35 years and this is the first time that such an innovative program has been created to support the future designers of tomorrow.”
FC Designer Collective brands include:
- Another Earthling – needle-felted animal and bird masks
- Buttress and Snatch – Ethical and sustainable lingerie
- Craftiela – handmade, natural and organic bath products
- Diva Choice – Statement jewellery and accessories
- Hashtag made IV Me – bespoke and handmade ladieswear with a cultural infusion
- Mrnoticed – Luxury menswear
- Jannaty – Modesty wear and accessories
- Sarah Hill – Greeting cards
- The Sundown Society – Ethical sleepwear
The FC Designer Collective store is at 113-115, Fonthill Road, N4 3HH. Opening hours are: 10am-5pm, Tuesday – Saturday.