This month marks the launch of the London Designers Collective’s spring/summer concept store, ‘Meet the Maker’: an immersive experience designed to celebrate and support female-founded fashion and accessory brands that use traceable and mindful supply chains. While the space will primarily be a showcase and a shopping experience, it’s also set to host a schedule of creative workshops and events whereby attendees can make their own product.
Perhaps it’s the knock-on effect of Fashion Revolution Week or an increase in general awareness surrounding the ways in which fast fashion is damaging our environment, but Stephanie Fleming of LDC states: ‘Since our launch in 2016 we have seen an increase in customers wanting to meet the designers behind the brands, to learn about their story and to understand the product and processes used. Customers are looking for more of an experience – something that goes beyond traditional retail.’
It’s a similar story on the high street, where the lifestyle element of shopping has shifted more into focus of late. This season sees brands such as H&M and Mango place more emphasis than ever on events and social coverage surrounding the launch of their conscious collections. Sophie Hulme and Stella McCartney both now boast stores with sustainable interior features designed to spark conversation, while G-Star RAW is currently promoting its newly developed denim production process as a part of the V&A’s Fashioned From Nature exhibition. So it seems that the word ‘trend’ in fashion doesn’t just relate to aesthetics but production process now, too. One of LDC’s showcase designers, Sini Moilanen, states: ‘It seems as though companies know that they need to introduce more sustainable policies. The industry has got to become more regulated over the next few years. From a retail point of view, I see there being a lot more experience-led events.’
Sophie Dunster’s label, Gung Ho, is based around an ethical model and every piece in the collection is organic and made in London. She stresses the importance of educating people about the danger of fast fashion saying: ‘There will be a point where people look back on it and think “I can’t believe that I didn’t know that”. But we want to try and make the education process fun and inclusive.’
Culture Trip asked what makes consumers want to have a hand in making their own fashion pieces. Stephanie Fleming: ‘I think it’s the experience element of the workshops that people like. Guests get a glimpse behind the scenes at the designers’ lives and creative processes. They make something under a designers’ guidance and they get to add a personal touch to the product. It makes the item more meaningful.’
That said, it seems as though this approach is something that larger brands should be considering as part of their marketing schemes. But it’s not just small and lesser-known labels that are championing the idea this season. Liberty London is hosting a weekly sewing school in store throughout spring which covers everything from quilting to Fair Isle knitting, while Gap continues with its annual personalisation embroidery in store this summer.
LDC’s Meet the Maker concept store is open between May 11 and 24 in Exmouth Market, London.