A host of local designers faced a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel last week, pitching their collections to a group of industry experts in the hope of being selected to showcase their work in London next year.
A total of 13 designers took part in the ‘pitching competition’ at the Fashion Textile Design Centre (FTDC) on Shipquay Street on Friday.
Eight will then be chosen to showcase their collections to thousands of buyers, influencers, retail and trend experts at the UK’s leading fashion tradeshow ‘Pure London’ which runs from February 10 to 12, 2019.
This is the second year of the pitching competiton, and this year’s judges were Annable Breen, Designer with Dunnes Stores Dublin, Tara Nicholas, DC&SDC, and Aishling Logue, Bridal Manager McElhinneys Ballybofey.
The ‘pitching’ competition is part of council’s ‘Designer Enterprise Programme’ which supports emerging designers and helps to take them commercially to market.
FTDC opened its doors in 2014, and is guided by the Inner-City Trust with the help of fashion and textile industry professionals and is supported by the Derry and Strabane District Council.
Helen Quigley, CEO of Inner City Trust said: “Business Development Manager Deirdre Williams is not only passionate aout her work, but about every indidvidual to make sure that they fulfil their dreams. This has been hugely successful and we’re delighted.”
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ at Friday’s event, Deirdre Williams, FTDC said: “Based on the success of last year and how many great designers got to go to London, we decided to do something similar this year working with the council. Our aim always was to get the designers to a trade show, and put them in front of thousands of buyers, and increase their opportunities to access a wider market.”
Deirdre added that the team secured 20 square meters at ‘Pure London’ in February, which allows eight designers to showcase.
“The main reason for this pitch to happen today is so that we can give two months of solid support to get these designers ready for the trade show. We have so many commercial brands today, younger street style, fashion sports wear, right through to more classic premium brands. The mix is very eclectic,” added Deirdre.
Danielle McNally, DC&SDC added: “We have contributed £5,000 so the designers can go to Pure London. It’s a very unique opportunity because emerging designers wouldn’t get an opportunity to go along to major trade show such as this. It’s a fantastic opportunity and hopefully it will lead to some new commercial sales as well.”
Annabelle Breen is a designer for Gallery in Dunne’s Stores. She travelled from Dublin to judge Friday’s competition, and said she was “really happy” to be asked to take part.
“I told my boss I was scoping out for future designers for Dunne’s Stores, but I’ll be looking for opportunities to foster and encoruage new design opportunities in the North. It’s a small industry, so it’s great to be able to help if given the chance,” she said.
Aishling Logue is Bridal Manager at McElhinney’s Ballybofey said it was “amazing” to be a judge.
“I’m looking for something unique and different. The story behind the brand, it’s everything behind it - the branding, the idea. What’s going to be on a shop floor some day, we’re going to meet them today,” she said.