Designers have voiced support for the British Fashion Council’s decision to move London Fashion Week from Somerset House to the more central location of Brewer Street Car Park in Soho.
Alice Horlick, the British designer behind luxury handbag label Aevha London, said she hoped the new space would bring catwalk shows together with designer showrooms.
“Everyone agrees there’s been a tip-off in the last couple of seasons at Somerset House; people felt they weren’t seeing the calibre of buyers and press coming through.
“I think it needed shaking up a bit. Hopefully, they can integrate the catwalk show with the designer showrooms more. There was a barrier before – people wouldn’t necessarily visit both.”
Designer Betty Jackson, who has clocked up more than 40 shows over 20 years at LFW, told Drapers she was sad to see the biannual event move away from Somerset House. However, she was confident the show would be reinvigorated by the decision to move to the heart of Soho, next to the newly refurbished Great Windmill Street.
“I loved it at Somerset House. I thought it was the perfect venue. [But] nothing lasts forever; the BFC felt it was time to move venues. I’m sure they’ll do it brilliantly.”
John Miln, chief executive of the UK Fashion & Textile Association, agreed: “Somerset House is a grand, great place… but having everything in one place will make it more accessible.”
Footwear designer Julian Hakes reeled off the advantages of switching to a new location, arguing that Somerset House was in many ways ill-equipped to deal with the show, which attracts thousands of people from across the globe.
“A more industrial look could be quite cool. There were problems with the old building; it was never designed as an exhibition space. If you were [exhibiting] on the top floor, then you were less likely to attract the kind of footfall you would if you were near the café. There was always trouble with the telephone signal, so [it was difficult] when you had an appointment.”
Hakes, who has exhibited at LFW for five years, added that there were problems accessing the venue, creating difficulties in dropping off product, and hoped the move to a more central hub would resolve this.
However, fashion writer Colin McDowell launched a scathing attack on the decision. “Quite a few designers have called me asking ‘How will it work?’ I’ve not been to any of the briefings but I don’t think it’s very glamorous or very cool to have it in a car park.
“Why are they doing this? It probably could be money or it could be an organisational decision, but it’s not a natural choice for an international fashion event that heavily relies on private cars and black minicabs [to get people there].”
McDowell, a resident of Soho, said the narrow streets could also cause chaos.