Local shops joined forces this weekend to celebrate fashion and design for a successful first Forest Hill Fashion Week.
The event was organised by the local Town Team SEE3, a “Portas Pilot Town” as part of Mary Portas’ high street regeneration project, covering Forest Hill, Sydenham and Kirkdale. As part of the town centre regeneration, the team, led by Councillor Chris Best, set up a local fashion week to help promote the area’s shops and show off the community’s talent.
“We want people to take a second look at the high street. There were all these empty shops and they needed to get back into use,” says Best.
One of SEE3’s projects to rejuvenate the community is The Shop Revolution, whose aim is to occupy empty stores with pop-up shops. Ten pop-ups were to be set up in the area between October 2012 and the end of May 2013, one of which opened especially for the Fashion Week in the brand new SEE Boutique at 10A Dartmouth Road.
“It’s been great!” says Ronke Fashola, who opened her pop-up store Love ur Look on Friday, where she sells her own clothing collection along with handmade fashion accessories and stationery by local crafters. “It’s nice to see something different locally that includes all the fashion shops.”
A few doors down the road is Bunka, a clothing and home decoration store owned by Ayshin Demirci. “We’ve been here for ten years and we sell clothes, so we obviously had to get involved in the fashion week,” she says.
“It is definitely a great idea. We saw a lot of interest from people, and the shop was especially busy over the weekend. It has brought more people to the high street for sure.”
Most stores involved with the project ran workshops over the weekend, from nail art sessions to fashion upcycling and fashion blog classes. In addition, members of the Design Marketplace, a student organisation of creative makers created by Goldsmiths students, were selling handmade creations in The Montage, a soon-to-be café gallery.
“Being involved with the Forest Hill Fashion Week is a really good opportunity,” said Goodness Victor, a first year Design and Innovation student at Goldsmiths who sells handmade tote bags under the name Tapestry. “It’s great that the Design Marketplace could be part of it.”
She added that she was happy about the opening of pop-up stores around the area, because they allow creators to let people know about what they are making. Chris Best agrees: “Pop-up stores are an opportunity to showcase people’s work.”
“If it all goes well, the pop-up stores might stay and become permanent shops.”
Forest Hill Fashion Week ends tonight with a catwalk and close party at restaurant and gallery, Canvas & Cream.
For more information on the Portas Pilot: http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2012/08/packed-launch-for-sydenhams-shop-revolution/