Not-for-profit organisation Fashion Enter will open two more stores within the next year to support more designers and grow turnover five-fold to £1 million in three years.
At present, the organisation, which is supported by City Fringe Partnership, Equals, Croydon Business and Croydon Enterprise, has a shop in Croydon that sells ranges from 40 designers. The new 1,500 sq ft locations will be in Kingston Upon Thames in Surrey, and Dagenham in Essex.
It will offer its 1,000 website members the chance to showcase their work, and it aims to grow store turnover from £200,000 to £1m in three years. Funds are put back into the business for workshops, mentoring, training and to help designers set up new businesses.
Director Jenny Holloway, who has worked as a buyer for Marks & Spencer, Littlewoods and Principles, said there was a demand for unusual and one-off pieces on the high street. "We're at a completely different end of the scale to Primark, but people want quirky designs," she said. "We offer a couturier service where people bring in old clothes they don't want to part with and we alter and update them to create exclusive garments. It gives customers the chance to become the designers."
Fashion Enter, which launched in March last year, also helps to put designers in touch with high street retailers, such as Hobbs, Topshop and Whistles.
Membership is £75 plus VAT per year, with extra charges for specific services. The Fashion Enter website includes a directory of more than 15,000 contacts in 350 categories across all aspects of the supply chain, and its services include legal, finance, export and marketing advice.