It's a dream come true for young designers: a competition to get a free shop in a great part of London, along with top fashion and retail advice from super-star shoe designer Jimmy Choo. Organised by the London College of Fashion, the winners were a shoe designer, Joanne Stoker and an eco-clothing designer, Julia Smith.
The store has an industrial and glamorous look with chain curtains and scaffolding poles in the window. But inside there is a kind of art deco feel with a 1920's cocktail bar for a counter. The two designers put it together themselves using recycled and vintage pieces of furniture that they found. There is a studio underneath.
In a lovely coincidence, Julia Smith, the green fashion winner is well-known to TreeHugger readers and London's TopShop followers. She started out winning the Global Mamas competition where she got the chance to work with producers in Ghana to create designs suitable for the British high street stores. As part of her fashion statement she says: "I want to encourage people to consider where their clothing comes from, and to prove that ethical fashion can be extremely luxurious whilst maintaining the 'cool' aesthetics of fashion."
Smith is an ethical clothing designer, using recycled materials and reclaimed fabrics. She uses batik for lining in many of the jackets adding vintage buttons as a bit of fun design. Some of the fabric is made out of recycled bottles, other dresses are made out of organic cotton. One of the shirts is hand painted with organic dyes. A jaunty clip-on hat is made of off cuts from batik fabrics.
Joanne Stoker is a shoe designer who makes gorgeous looking high-heeled shoes. She sources all the components from Italy, the home of shoe design, because they have the best quality. Some of the leather in her work is recycled and she uses off-cuts from factories as well. The heels of some of the shoes are made of wood, reclaimed after a forest fire in California.
She would like her work to become more environmental but spoke about the difficulties in using British leather because the Italian is so good. As a recent graduate she understands the pressure to make saleable items but would like to have the time to do more research into the eco area. Unfortunately Jimmy Choo won't be of too much help since his shoes are far from green.
We wish the two of them lots of sales and success in this exciting venture.