John Lewis is gearing up to launch a new initiative to champion UK suppliers and designers with dedicated areas in stores.
“Locally Made” will launch in the Leeds store, which opens on 20 October. It will stock more than 120 products from 11 local suppliers, based within a 30-mile radius of the city.
John Lewis has partnered with Harrogate-based The Great British Exchange for the project, which sources artisanal products from new designers, established makers, independent businesses and British-based factories.
It will also offer fashion from local womenswear labels D’Albert and Cabba within the Loved&Found department in the Leeds store.
Over the next few months, John Lewis stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff will also increase their range of locally-made products, followed by new shops opening next year in Oxford and Westfield London.
Julia d’Albert, founder of D’Albert, launched her label for spring 14 but was forced to close it down last year due to the high costs of running her own line.
She was contacted by the Centre for Fashion Enterprise, a programme that helps independent designers, which was helping John Lewis look for local Leeds designers to stock.
“CFE organised a meeting with the fashion buying team at John Lewis, who loved my minimalist and modern sports tech designs that I’d created specifically for the Leeds shop, and placed an order for eight styles from my capsule collection,” she said.
“I’m so proud that my line will be stocked in the new shop in Leeds, especially as I grew up in and still live just outside the city centre, so all my family and friends will be able to see my designs up close.”
She added: “I’ve just taken on an intern, and want to hire staff as the brand continues to grow but I’m taking my time. I learned a lot during my first attempt in the fashion industry, so I’m focusing on growing my business first, but without John Lewis none of this would have been possible.”
“We know that our customers are interested in the provenance of products and as a British retailer, we’re proud to support British design and quality by sourcing locally,” said Anna Rigby, head of buying for home accessories and gifts at John Lewis.
“The campaign will help us strengthen our existing local supplier base and champion more British designers and manufacturers.”