A new ‘Fashion Lab’ in Hackney will give budding designers access to top-of-the-line industrial equipment, along with support and training from on-hand skilled technicians.
The Fashion Lab will offer graduates and young designers the opportunity to rent work spaces fitted with quality design technologies at an affordable price, a hopeful solution to the previous unavailability of technical equipment that left East London’s pool of burgeoning industry talent unfulfilled.
Charles Armstrong, founder of The Trampery, the London-based social enterprise specialising in the design and operation of creative spaces, said: “The lack of affordable, flexible access to specialised equipment was a clear barrier for emerging designers. We’re delighted to address that need with the new Fashion Lab.”
The work space can be booked in two-hour time slots online, giving youngsters uninterrupted time with the machines. It will be kitted out with sewing machines, a fusing press, ironing stations, pattern cutting tables and other equipment that would have been previously hard to come by.
A spokesperson for Hackney Council said that the ‘unique aspect’ of the Lab is that all proceeds from the work space rentals will be reinvested back into it, meaning a constantly growing and improving place for innovation.
Third Year Design student at Goldsmiths University, Ryan Sargent said: “My design studio has a lot of useful equipment that is pretty invaluable to my work, but not having it all at my fingertips after I’ve graduated has always been a real worry for me.”
He added: “This idea is pretty cool, because being able to book your own time slot means you won’t waste time hanging around for a machine, and the fact it’s going to be affordable is even better.”
Promising young fashion designer Charlie May, who has her studio at The Trampery, agrees. She said: “The fashion lab is a wonderful idea. As a young designer it’s impossible to get your hands on the kind of equipment that you had access to in university, and that you need in order to create to the best of your ability.”
Hackney Council is match-funding the new work space that The Trampery, Designer-Manufacturer Innovation Support Centre (DISC) and the Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE) collaborated with to create.
Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration believes the previous unavailability of resources was detrimental to starting a career in a design led industry, but that this scheme will be hugely beneficial.
He said: “The Fashion Hub addresses this by providing that access and is a welcome addition to the offer that Hackney has for nurturing innovation and creativity.”
Wendy Malem, Director of CFE and DISC, both organisations that aim to support and guide the next generation of designers, said: “We expect this new facility will drive London forward as the heart of unlocking creativity and supporting fashion designers through technical fashion innovation.”
Armstrong added: “Our goal now is to raise further support to augment the facilities on offer and provide additional training and mentoring opportunities for upcoming designers.”
The Fashion Hub will launch on 14 October, with a daytime event open to all from 2pm-5pm. There will be demonstrations of some of the equipment, and a limited run of Fashion Hub bags that will be printed on site.