Not-for-profit organisation Fashion Enter is looking at premises for a new factory in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Drapers can reveal.
CEO Jenny Holloway told Drapers the manugacturer is working closely with local regeneration firm Inner City Trust on reviewing locations close to Derry City. It hopes to launch a site in 2019.
Holloway said Fashion Enter is seeking a site that measures at least 30,000 sq ft for a hub that would combine sampling, manufacturing and a training academy.
The new factory follows Fashion Enter’s partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, and social initiative Fashion and Textile Design Centre, which began four months ago with a designer business start-up project.
Holloway pointed to tailoring as a focal point, linking Fashion Enter’s appointment as Savile Row’s training provider, and opportunities to offer “high-quality, cost-effective tailored product to the UK”, to Derry’s shirt-making heritage.
Northern Ireland, and particularly Derry, was a shirtmaking centre until the 1980s. Premium shirtmaker Smyth & Gibson is still based in the area.
“It’s at an exploratory stage at the moment,” said Holloway. “We’ve forged a close working relationship over the past four months with Derry’s designers.”
“Traditionally it was very much a factory town – at one point it employed [thousands] of people within Londonderry as an area, so some buildings and skills bases are already there.
“We’re at the point [where we’re ready to] expand, and working with the Inner City Trust will be an ideal opportunity for the industry.”
Today Derry is home to sportswear manufacturer O’Neills.
Fashion Enter operates a factory based in Haringey, north London. Its clients include Asos and John Lewis.