Best practice at The Fashion Business School, University of the Arts, London
Whether design, production or retailing led, enterprise and entrepreneurship are at the heart of the fashion business world and is a source of innovation and new thinking. The Fashion Business School (FBS) at London College of Fashion (LCF) is a pioneering centre for business and management research, enterprise, teaching and learning.
The fashion sector is high profile and invaluable to the UK economy. In February 2014, the British Fashion Council published data stating that the fashion industry directly contributed nearly £26 billion to the UK economy (up from £21 billion in 2009) and supports 797,000 jobs. Fashion’s total contribution to the UK economy via both indirect support for supply chain industries and induced spending of employee’s wage income is estimated to have risen to over £46 billion.
It is part of LCF’s mission statement to embed itself fully into the fashion sector to support its growth. As such LCF is fully committed to developing entrepreneurship and enterprise across the breadth of the fashion sector. Not only does this generate jobs and economic benefits for LCF as well as the wider economy but also it allows LCF to become recognised as the knowledge exchange hub for the fashion industry.
Formed in 2003, LCF’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE), works closely with the FBS, and is the business development platform in London for emerging micro and small fashion designer businesses. It offers a pipeline of support from early stages through to business incubation, growth programmes and investment readiness, as well as providing research and consultancy to the industry. With its business support, manufacturing sourcing and digital teams, CFE has an outstanding track record in long term business success in the designer fashion and high-end brand industries. CFE has incubated some of the most high profile fashion designers to have come out of London, including Phoebe English, Erdem, Craig Green, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Simone Rocha and Thomas Tait
The CFE has supported over 1200 UK SME’s and received both private and public funding. It includes 5 project centres which deliver 11 programmes designed to support the growth and development of small fashion businesses, their founders and their managers. Each project centre has been specifically developed to target different types of business (e.g. manufacturers, designers, wholesalers and fashion technology) at different stages of businesses development (e.g. start-up, early stage, investment readiness).
The CFE has extended its reach beyond London and has delivered programmes in Leeds, Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Qatar benefiting 248 international fashion SME’s.
The objectives of the CFE are to:
- Lead the fashion sector through a focussed pipeline approach to provide support for micro and small fashion enterprises by creating thriving and sustainable businesses and being key players in the industry
- Develop a UK, EU and global ecosystem for fostering creative fashion enterprises
- Work in partnership across the fashion sector with organisations and networks to maximise benefits to growing fashion enterprises, access to markets and finance and market positioning.
- Encourage design leadership, entrepreneurship and global sustainability and responsibility.
The 5 project centre programmes are designed and delivered by 29 experts and consultants within the CFE including 11 SME consultants. In 2012-14 the CFE supported 798 UK fashion SME’s (779 in London and 19 in Leeds) and 248 international fashion SME’s. Of the 798 SME’s supported 485 are unique (separate) businesses, 200 SME’s (41%) are UAL graduates of which 87 (44%) are LCF graduates. The CFE has attracted SME’s that graduated from 82 other HEI’s (49 Home and 33 International) which demonstrates the CFE’s wide-ranging appeal and its national and international reputation for nurturing emerging fashion talent.
Key CFE programmes include: -
New Market Entry
The New Market Entry Programme is aimed at London fashion start-ups and very early stage design and/or wholesale businesses.
New Fashion Pioneer
The New Fashion Pioneer programme is aimed at more established London start-ups and early stage fashion design/wholesale businesses.
New Fashion Venture
The New Fashion Venture is the flagship programme upon which the CFE and LCF gained its reputation as an international leader in fashion business incubation. The programme is aimed at early stage London fashion design/wholesale businesses and is seen as London’s pioneering fashion incubator.
Building Brand Equity
The Building Brand Equity Programme is aimed at fashion businesses at investment stage.
Fashion Technology Programme
The ‘Fash-Tech’ Programme is aimed at fashion businesses from concept to investment stage and supports fashion technology entrepreneurs who want to redefine the future of the industry
“The CFE focused on the business side of having a fashion label. It really helped to build my business as well as giving me the opportunity to build great relationships with respected people in the industry.”
“The CFE gave us security. It can all be over if you don’t manage the moment – that’s what the CFE are there for.”
“Whilst on the New Fashion Venture programme we experienced rapid growth and it was great to have the CFE’s expertise and knowledge to guide us in the right direction”
“Being part of the CFE Pioneer Programme was a great experience. Without this knowledge and guidance, it would have been near impossible to develop my business in the way that I needed to. It feels crucial for me to have such a great opportunity at this stage of my business, and I’m very thankful to the CFE.”
“The CFE has been an invaluable asset to the development of our knowledge and business. The New Fashion Pioneer programme addressed our specific needs and we will be forever grateful to the wonderfully kind and patient team.”