Bespoke footwear designer Jimmy Choo has hand-picked two young designers to set up independent retail stores in central London’s Connaught Village.
The two designers won The First into Fashion competition – run by the Church Commissioners, which manages Connaught Village on behalf of landlords The Church of England, in conjunction with London College of Fashion – to kick-start their own retail fashion business.
Footwear designer Joanne Stoker and womenswear designer Julia Smith were picked by a panel of judges including Choo and Grazia fashion editor at large Melanie Rickey to receive a rent and rates-free retail unit for six months in Connaught Village, in the Marble Arch area of London’s West End.
As part of the prize the pair also get a contribution towards their shopfit and mentoring from Choo, who will provide business advice. There is a Jimmy Choo Couture store in Connaught Village.
The competition was open to all UK fashion graduates who were asked to submit a portfolio along with a business proposal. Stoker and Smith impressed the judges with their detailed submissions.
The Church Commissioners commercial asset manager Rob Lines said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Joanne and Julia. Their unique and beautiful collections and their ideas for a contemporary shopfit will be exciting.”