Sir Philip Green vows to help fashion hopefuls


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The Independent Online

Fashion tycoon Sir Philip Green has pledged to help more young people get ahead in the designing and manufacturing of clothes.

Speaking at the press launch of London Fashion Week, the Topshop boss spoke of the work the company has already done in providing opportunities for young designers but said he now wanted to help the manufacturing side of the process as well.

He said: "Now more then ever it is important that we continue to help to develop all the young talent that we can.

"We have achieved great success there, bringing people into the industry. Apart from all of that we are also able in certain cases to help work with these designers, and actually help them sell products to Topshop and to other stores around the world.

"We want to, or we are working on seeing if we can also produce a manufacturing side, and that's a development in motion, to see if we can actually achieve that, and actually take people out of the initial stages and help them with sample machinists, development, the same way we do with the retail academy.

"We are ourselves manufacturing more goods in the UK these days, and if we can help get more capacity here, I believe those retailers will tell you there is now the opportunity to be competitive and produce in the United Kingdom."

Sir Philip also announced that Topshop has renewed its sponsorship of NewGen, a scheme set up by the British Fashion Council (BFC) to showcase and promote new designers.

He added: "In 2012 with the Olympics and Jubilee, London is going to be a really important part of the fashion industry more than ever.

"I'm really delighted over the last 10 years the role that Topshop has been able to play in fashion week - being able to provide opportunities for young designers and new talent and showcase their collections to the world."

The BFC said it has identified five key areas for growth for the UK fashion industry - skills and training, retail opportunities, manufacturing, development, and philanthropy and sponsorship.

BFC chairman Sir Harold Tillman said London Fashion Week was now in its 28th year and the industry contributed more than £20 billion to the UK economy.

He said: "London has an enviable reputation as a birthplace for young talent.

"Fashion is a very, very significant employer of young people and we will attract more young people and train them in skills and support British fashion businesses to work with them.

"There are some great initiatives out there but we need more. We need to pull together as an industry and work together to make them happen.

"This year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give the fashion industry a boost."

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said it was his sixth year at fashion week and described the BFC as "exemplary".

He said: "I think what really impresses me as a politician looking at the fashion industry and how it operates is how everyone always seems to be pulling in the same direction.

"In the last six years I think I've been privileged to see an industry that was already successful achieve even more success.

"I'm also delighted that the British Fashion Council now continues to make the case about how valuable the fashion industry is to the UK economy. I think that people now understand that this is a serious business."