Norwich Fashion Week set to boost local economy

The Designers Show at Epic Studios for Norwich Fashion Week 2013. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Designers Show at Epic Studios for Norwich Fashion Week 2013. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant copyright 2012

The city's economy is set for a major boost – thanks to Norwich Fashion Week.

The annual fashion week officially launches tonight with The Retailers Show at Open on Bank Plain, with the finale show next Thursday.

Independent, high street and local designers taking part in the week said that having a focus on fashion would bring more people to the city, increasing retail sales and providing a lifeline to many businesses.

'The ambition of Norwich Fashion Week (NFW) is to celebrate the great strengths Norwich has in fashion retailing, design and education while creating a series of amazing events that slot very well into an annual cycle of major festivals in the city,' said Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID), which has helped expand the scale and number of events at NFW this year.

'NFW will make a noticeable uplift in visitor numbers during, before and after the week, and will have a positive impact on Norwich city centre's vitality and reputation.'

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.

John Lewis in Norwich has been a supporter of NFW for four years. Jonathan Oakes, operations manager for fashion, said: 'The events planned throughout the week will certainly help drive footfall into the city and will be a welcome boost to the local economy.

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'We think our customers will appreciate the events we have planned in-store from dressmaking and knitting workshops through to personal styling and tailoring sessions.'

With four main fashion shows and over 50 events, NFW 2014 is the biggest celebration of style in the city to date. The week spans independent, high street, vintage and locally-made fashion in Norwich and Norfolk. 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.

Norwich designer Marian Eve Williams has showcased her designs at NFW since the first show in 2011.

'NFW helps promote the idea that Norwich has still got a wealth of fashion designers who are creating bespoke clothing and accessories,' said Ms Williams. 'People love to shop local and buy British and NFW highlights fashion that is made in Norfolk. 'It's this independence that helps keep Norwich special.'

Jazmin Balfour, creative director for new Norwich menswear label Aart & Lola, said: 'This is the first time I have showcased at NFW and it's a great opportunity to get more people, and hopefully buyers, interested in Aart & Lola. This exposure is incredibly valuable, especially to us independent designers.

Norwich Fashion Week 2014 starts today and runs until Thursday, March 13 in many venues across the city.