Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has taken over the role of Graduate Fashion Week chairman from Rob Templeman, former Debenhams chief executive, who steps down after three years.
Newton-Jones told Drapers he wants to “elevate” the student showcase next year to become a key date for the fashion industry, both in London and worldwide.
This year’s GFW, held from May 31 to June 3 at the Old Truman Brewery in east London, attracted 27,000 visitors across the four days. “We’re hoping for more next year,” said Newton-Jones, adding that he wants to attract more retailers from outside the fashion industry to boost job opportunities for the graduates.
“For every British retailer with a design function, even if it’s kitchen sinks, this is where they will find the best design talent in the UK.”
This year’s event included graduate collections from colleges in 14 countries, including Japan, the US, Russia, Sri Lanka, France and Italy, and Newton-Jones wants to build on this for 2015. He is also hoping to increase the number of UK universities involved from the current number of 40, which includes targeting the likes of Central Saint Martins and Westminster in London.
A spokeswoman for Central Saint Martins said its London location means it can host its own showcase.
“A number haven’t been involved over the past years; some tend to drift in and out,” explained Newton-Jones. “One of my jobs is to bring them back on board. We’ll be talking to them over the next month or so.”
Founding chairman Jeff Banks remains honorary president.