Thursday, March 7, 2013
The city’s economy is set for a major boost – thanks to Norwich Fashion Week.
Independent and high street retailers taking part in the annual festival of fashion say more people will visit the city, increasing retail sales and providing a lifeline to many businesses.
According to Visit Norwich, the official destination management organisation for Norwich, previous fashion weeks have increased footfall by 8.76pc – that is 3.54pc up on the national average, bringing in 31,000 additional customers.
Recent studies have shown that the fashion industry is worth £21bn to the UK economy, not taking into account the impact it has on other industries such as tourism, which could bring in an additional £16bn. Norwich Fashion Week launches at The Forum tonight with the Ionfashion retailers show. High street and independent shops are working together to put on the catwalk show which highlights the new fashion trends.
Independent department store Jarrold has been a supporter of Norwich Fashion Week since it was first brought to life in 2010. Managing director Peter Mitchell believes that the week is a well-timed boost to the spring and summer season.
“Norwich Fashion Week gives our customers inspiration and encouragement to leave the cold Winter months behind and refresh their wardrobe,” Mr Mitchell said.
“For Norwich City Centre’s wider business community, as Norwich Fashion Week has grown in ambition and scale over the last few years, we see it attracting more and more people to the city centre to take part in the fashion shows and other events. The week provides a welcome boost to the vitality of the city centre and reinforces Norwich’s credentials as a creative and talented city and an exceptional retail destination.”
With five main fashion shows and over 50 events, Norwich Fashion Week 2013 is the biggest celebration of the diversity of fashion in Norwich to date.
Launching with the retailers show tonight, the week continues with the Norwich Lanes Fashion Show tomorrow, the Vintage Show on Sunday, The Designers Show on Tuesday and new show this year, Fashion Mash Up, in conjunction with Latitude Festival and Knightshift Dance Company next Thursday.
The week spans independent, high street, vintage and locally made fashion in Norwich. It also provides a platform for the next generation fashion designer by showcasing the work of fashion and textile students from City College Norwich and fashion degree students from the Norwich University of the Arts.
This year, support from the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) has helped maximise the potential for a wider impact on city centre businesses.
The first paid position with BID support, a part-time co-ordinator, has been appointed to work with the fashion week board to enlarge this year’s programme, which encompasses more retailers and businesses.
“Norwich Fashion Week supports retailers and businesses which are part of the BID and highlight a unique shopping experience in our fine city,” said Stefan Gurney, director of the Norwich BID.
“The week showcases the edgy fashion and style scene that is so vibrant in Norwich and invests in the next generation. It also helps promote Norwich as a fashion destination, drawing in visitor numbers, which helps the retail sector increase customer numbers and commercial activity, keeping Norwich within the top 10 shopping and retail destinations in the UK.”
Retailers large and small are embracing the opportunities Norwich Fashion Week can offer. National high street chain John Lewis has been part of Norwich Fashion Week three times. Operations manager for fashion, Jonathan Oakes, says this is because the week highlights the city’s diverse range of shops.
“We are really pleased to be involved in Norwich Fashion Week,” said Mr Oakes. “This year we are working with fashion students from the Norwich University of the Arts who are putting on a fashion show in store. Supporting new talent is very important to John Lewis, after all, the students could be the fashion designers of the future. We also think our customers will appreciate the chance to see something a little different to our usual fashion show format.”
Julia Rigg, who owns independent vintage boutique Goldfinches, on St Gregory’s Alley, will be taking part in the Norwich Lanes and Vintage fashion shows and the Norwich Lanes Fashion Night Out. She adds that the week is the perfect chance for smaller businesses to promote their business and attract new customers.
“The Norwich high street is enriched by the small independent shops and cafes which offer unique fashion, music and food and the different events taking place during Norwich Fashion Week enable people to enjoy the alternative scene the city offers,” said Ms Rigg.
“The week helps raise the profile of independent shops, encouraging people to get out there and see what is on offer. It creates new custom for many businesses that will be struggling with the ongoing recession.”
Roberta Pumer, owner of Ethika on Pottergate, agrees saying that fashion week helps raise the profile of the small indpendent.
“The week places us on a level ‘catwalk’ so it’s a wonderful opportunity for independent shops to get involved,” said Ms Pumer.
“The week mixes locally designed clothes with independent and high street – it’s a real eye opener for the retailer and customer alike.
“Being part of Norwich Fashion Week has certainly raised people’s awareness of Ethika as a place to discover locally designed and made fashion.”
Anita Vadhir owner of womenswear boutique Vanilla helped set up Norwich Fashion Week in 2010. She knows how important it is for businesses, both large and small, to promote themselves in different ways to remain competitive.
“It’s important for an independent fashion retailer to give our customers up-to-date information on the seasons’ looks and Norwich Fashion Week helps us to translate that knowledge onto the catwalk, giving our customers a visual experience of the looks of the new season,” said Ms Vadhir.
“It also gives us the opporutnity to work with other retailers to help promote Norwich as one of the top places to shop.”