Couture crunch: London Fashion Week

With London Fashion Week facing a cut from six days to four, top designers claim it is being squeezed out of the international calendar. Rachel Shields reports

Top British fashion designers claim London Fashion Week is being intentionally crushed by its rivals because it has refused to surrender its independence. The flagship UK fashion festival, which is held twice a year and opens today, is facing a threat that could reduce it from six to four days in its spring incarnation next year.

The claims emerged after the rival New York fashion week announced it was going to show its collections a week later than usual in February next year, a move that would cut London Fashion Week down to a bare four days, forcing top designers to abandon it and go elsewhere.

Designers such as Zandra Rhodes claim the London show has been under threat since the marketing giant IMG was thwarted in a bid to secure control of it. IMG has lucrative part or full ownership rights to London Fashion Week's main rivals, New York, Paris and Milan, as well as lesser-known fashion weeks.

It currently owns London's Fashion Fringe, a forum for up-and-coming talent held in Covent Garden, but has no hold over London Fashion Week itself, which is controlled by the British Fashion Council. There have been behind-the-scenes discussions in the past about IMG extending its hold over London Fashion Week, but the British Fashion Council insisted there are no talks taking place at present.

"I heard that there is a problem in that IMG, which owns New York fashion week, wanted to buy it [London Fashion Week] but had been unsuccessful. That is why they've cut a day out of London, so people going there will have to cut short their visits," said Rhodes.

"It's certainly odd that there is no squeeze being put on anybody else," said the designer Betty Jackson. "This is an issue that needs to be raised. They are pushing London because we are not as strong as New York or Milan. London has always been vulnerable from a lot of perspectives – it is young and innovative but this industry functions more on finance than aesthetics."

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), which works closely with IMG, announced it was moving the dates of the New York show back one week in order to give American designers extra time to finish their collections, which are sometimes delayed by mill closures.

It is not possible to move the entire fashion calendar forward to solve the problem – as some have suggested – as this would not leave Italian designers enough time to get their collections in shops.

Many fear the reduced number of days, together with the prospect of dwindling sponsorship, as well as the absence of leading designers such as Alexander McQueen, Ben de Lisi and Gareth Pugh, could seriously undermine the UK's main fashion shop window.

IMG denied it was behind London Fashion Week's problems. "IMG has a close relationship with London Fashion Week and we are always open to discussing ways that we might support their efforts," said a company spokesman. "IMG is not a part of the conversations that are going on regarding the international fashion week schedule, and we will follow the lead of the CFDA in the scheduling of the shows in New York."

An IMG insider admitted that there were ongoing discussions regarding the company's level of involvement with the London event.

"London Fashion Week is rich in talent. We currently have one of the most exciting crops of emerging designers showing," said a spokeswoman for the British Fashion Council.

London Fashion Week is funded by corporate sponsors and a grant from London's City Hall. Several of last year's sponsors have declined to fund it this year. A further threat to funding emerged last week when the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, revealed that government funding may also be under threat if action is not taken on the issue of underweight models.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement