March 28 2011
Young British designers with small businesses, however talented, can be at a disadvantage compared with their luxury-group-backed Continental cousins. Unsold or returned stock can make or break them because of the money tied up in it; and their prices are not always competitive because of small production. So, much as we would love to support them, we sometimes feel that it doesn’t suit our personal economies to do so.
Until now. Bicester Village is unique among designer outlets in having a highly international clientele and a close tie with the British Fashion Council – it is a member, and a sponsor of London Fashion Week. This gives it close contact with young designers and an appreciation of their problems, so on March 31 it is launching a way to help designers and give current wardrobes a super boost – a six-week pop-up shop under the name British Designers Collective.
On sale will be last season’s stock, samples and returns – still ahead of the curve – from cool names including Jonathan Saunders (pictured: reverse flower shirt), Markus Lupfer (up to 60 per cent off dresses originally priced at £645 and coats originally costing £695), Osman, Felicity Brown, Todd Lynn, Marios Schwab, recycled and ethical bags by Elvis and Kresse (recycled firehouse messenger bag, £82, down from £205) and shoes by Georgina Goodman.
This is the second year Bicester and the BFC have run a similar project, fitting out a Bicester boutique – this year’s is topically, sleekly neon-inspired – to put British designers among international names that include Céline, Gucci, YSL, Cavalli, Marni, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
“Bicester Village promotes many of the biggest fashion houses today and it’s a great opportunity for young designers to showcase among them,” says Jonathan Saunders, while the BFC chairman, Harold Tillman, says it is “a very exciting chance for the designers to grow their businesses”. So it’s not just an opportunity but a duty to expand your own wardrobe – and a pleasure too.