£50,000 for FashionFest

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson.
The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Brenda Stevenson.

Derry City Council has been informed that £50,000 from its post-2013 legacy budget will be spent on the development of a fashion festival.

The allocation of the money was approved “under delegated authority” by Town Clerk and Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor.

Fashion Fest will take place from November 20th to 23rd, and will be the first festival of its kind in Derry.

In a report brought before the September meeting of the full council at the Guildhall on Tuesday, the council’s Director of Legacy Oonagh McGillion said that the council was paying the lion share of the £70,000 needed for the festival.

Among the key events taking place as part of the festival will be a wedding fashion showcase at St Columb’s Cathedral, a Vintage Fair at Pump Street, a Fashion Show at St Columb’s Hall and High Tea and Fancy Frocks at Prehen House.

There will also be fashion workshops and designer showrooms and community events in different areas.

In her report, Ms McGillion said: “For years, Derry-Londonderry was built upon the textile trade with numerous factories dominating the cityscape. Shirt making in Derry reaches its peak in the 1920s when the shirt factories, together with their associated outworkers employed 18,000 people.

“Sadly, in recent years, the city witnessed the decline of this industry which was significantly impacted by outsourcing to lower cost base locations. However a new trend is emerging with more retailers embracing initiatives to ‘reshore’ textile manufacturing in the belief that customers both here and abroad are willing to pay higher prices for quality products. The time is now right to capitalise on this potential and aim for a resurgence of this sector.”

Objectives stemming from the festival include providing business support for 10 current or emerging fashion designers from Derry and Donegal and laying foundations for a yearly showcase.

Long-term relationship links are also being forged with the City of London and Dublin.

Mayor Brenda Stevenson, speaking at the meeting, said that the “huge success” of the 2013 City of Culture events around Derry’s textile prowess had paved the way for developing the craft and design sector locally.

The Mayor’s SDLP party Colleague, Councillor Martin Reilly stressed the importance of growing this type of industry in the city.