Foundations of London Fashion week laid with just £1,000

8 years ago

Foundations of London Fashion week laid with just £1,000

London fashion week will be sashaying into the limelight from today. However, the glitzy event that features hundreds of designers showcasing to press and buyers from around the world started off with collections from just five designers on a budget of £1,000.

At, we think that’s pretty impressive! So how did it go from a small platform to one of the most talked about events in the fashion calendar and what lessons can be learned from Tony Porter who was the original founder 40 years ago?

Question the status quo

Founder Tony Porter, now 80, had his own fashion PR business in the sixties and was frustrated that Paris and Milan hosted journalists and buyers twice a year but London lacked an international talent showcase despite its thriving fashion scene.

Knock on doors and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer

In this case, it was the Clothing Export Council of Great Britain. Porter went to them in 1971 with his vision for a world-class event to welcome press, photographers and buyers to come to one place at one time with everyone there. Originally the showcase was called British Fashion Week because it was supported by the Export Council and the British Knitting Council.

Be proactive about raising funds

Despite not having a designated budget the Clothing Export Council of Great Britain agreed to match whatever funding Porter could come up with. Buoyed on by their interest he approached top designers for contributions and managed to raise £500 which was matched to £1,000.

Spend wisely

Porter used the funds, collected from well-known designers such as Zandra Rhodes, Jean Muir and Bruce Oldfield, to print a small brochure and send it out to press overseas. He cut costs by hosting press in his house.

Embrace growth

To begin with only five designers showed their collections but in the five years that Tony Porter promoted the event that became twenty-five. London Fashion Week in its current form first started in 1984. Now the event has come even further to boast some impressive statistics:

  • 35million people across the country will see LFW content on 60 outside screens

  • 2million weekly visitors to Piccadilly Circus where LFW content will be screened

  • 503,404 mentions of #LFW on Twitter during LFW SS16 in September

  • 113,348 images tagged #LFW on Instagram during LFW SS16 in September

  • 80 designers from 24 countries showing as part of the International Fashion Showcase

  • 51 designers are presenting their AW16 collections with a catwalk show

  • 32 designers are hosting a presentation to display their AW16 collections

Lucy Liddiard