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Olympics site could have fashion legacy

Venue could house students, manufacturers and brands if proposal succeeds.

Plans to transform the site of the Olympic media and broadcast centre into a hub for the British fashion trade could prove a massive boost for Drapers’ Save Our Skills (SOS) campaign.

If the bid is successful, the temporary site – built specifically for the Games – would be rejuvenated as a centre offering facilities for fashion skills training, manufacturing and trade, giving the industry a much-needed boost.

An organisation, UK Fashion Hub, has been set up as part of the proposal, and will partner with real-estate firm Resolution if successful.

UK Fashion Hub spokesman Gavin Ambrose said the idea “dovetailed” with Drapers’ Save Our Skills campaign, which is mentioned in the organisation’s proposal, as it aims to encourage fashion manufacturers to take advantage of apprenticeship schemes to ensure essential production skills are not lost.

It is also working with Dutch company Brandboxx, which operates business-to-business trade centres and fashion hubs across Europe. Brandboxx would be the site’s first tenant and would, in turn, bring in its own tenants.

UK Fashion Hub is also in talks with industry bodies including the UK Fashion & Textile Association about collaborating on the scheme.

The wide-ranging plans for the 1 million sq ft site, part of the Olympic complex in East London, would comprise four main zones. They would offer training, education and mentoring; manufacturing facilities and units for new businesses; showrooms for brands and space for events and exhibitions.

The four main areas would be dubbed Learn, Do, Show and Sell.

Learn would include a training and education zone, where students could learn traditional techniques and skills which have been lost in the UK with the decline of clothing manufacturing. It would be home to the UK Fashion Hub’s College Of Excellence, but it is hoped that a number of fashion-focused colleges would use the site as an outpost or satellite campus. It would also be the new home of The Fashion Textile Museum, which is currently in Bermondsey, south London.

The Do zone would house designers and manufacturers, and it is understood that Fashion Capital, the organisation that supports up-and-coming designers, would look to move its five factories, which already work with Asos and Marks & Spencer, to the site.

The Show area would offer more than 86,000 sq ft of auditorium space over three levels and an outdoor piazza. The space could be used for launches, events and exhibitions for a range of users, from established brands and new labels to non-fashion companies.

The Sell zone would be the trading and economic engine of the centre and would allow brands to set up permanent showrooms for buyers to visit. There would also be an ecommerce centre for brands and retailers to use to help them to integrate their online and offline businesses.

Ambrose was optimistic about the venture’s success: “We had the premise when we started that this should only succeed if it is the best use for this building.

“We think it is. We think the time is right for this, and it could make an incremental impact on the industry, and a real impact on the area and local employment.”

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