LBO Home IndoChina | About Us | To Advertise | Contact Us rss LBO Mobil rss rss rss rss rss
Mon, 18 December 2017 19:56:19
Jane Shepherdson hints at new venture in Sri Lanka visit: Interview
19 Nov, 2007 12:56:55
Nov 19, 2007 (LBO) – British fashion queen Jane Shepherdson is planning a new venture, the former Topshop brand director said on a visit to Sri Lanka, which is fast becoming a centre for high-end apparel manufacture.
"I’m planning to start a new business soon, that is all I can say,” she told LBO.

Shepherdson is widely credited with turning Topshop into a high street brand earning 100 million pounds annual profit from a minor label that earned just a tenth of that when she took over.

She parted with Topshop in October 2006 soon after the entry of model Kate Moss into the firm. A fan of 'ethical' production practices, she has since been consulting for Oxfam and the Japanese brand People Tree.

Sri Lanka is now a key manufacturing base for labels like Victoria's Secret, Triumph, Gap and Speedo.

"The manufacturing in Sri Lanka is incredible. It’s so highly sophisticated and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the business so I can take advantage of it,” says Shepherdson.

While promoting high fashion at affordable prices, Shepherdson is trying to push 'ethical brands' where sweatshop labour practices in factories is discouraged.

"Customers are just beginning to think a little more about where the products come from and how it’s actually being made,” says Shepherdson.

“It hasn’t hit the mass market yet. But it will become more and more important particularly with retailers like Marks and Spencer saying that they think that it’s very important.

"So it’s going to have a ripple effect,” she predicts.

She is enthusiastic about Sri Lanka's attempts to show the world that it has eco-friendly manufacturing practices with high labour standards, where child labour is shunned and workers are under strict labour laws.

The industry has been promoting Sri Lanka under a 'Garments without guilt' banner to make buyers aware that it is a centre for 'ethical' manufacture.

"It is very clear that all of the manufacturers here have recognized the need to be doing something," says Shepherdson after visiting plants which recycle waste water, aim for a carbon neutral footprint and even use pumice stone residues of washing plants productively.

"They are taking those pumice stones and having them made into bricks," she said, laughing. "This is incredible. I’ve never seen this much of development anywhere else as I’ve seen in Sri Lanka."

Shepherdson spoke to LBO on the sidelines of a fashion show by the graduates of a London College of Fashion design degree program run with the island's Moratuwa University.

“I think it was very good. The two students who won have a very high standard.”

“I expected to see everybody following a similar trend. It was absolutely not the case. It was very original. There were not two collections that were similar. They were all highly original,” Shepherdson said.

The two winners got scholarships to follow a Master's degree at the London School of Fashion.

Sri Lanka's apparel makers have been taking on part of the design work, working closely with design teams of fashion labels, to interpret and adapt designs to materials.

The course in Sri Lanka includes a one-year internship at an apparel firm where undergraduates get hands-on experience of the garment manufacturing process.

Shepherdson has also been associated with the Fashion Enterprise Fund, a venture capital fund for new designers, which funds promising new designers on a profit share basis.

Bookmark and Share
Your Comment
Your Name/Handle
Your Email (Your email will not be displayed)
Your Email
Receivers Email
Your Comment