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Highlands and Islands fashion designers hope to gain new business in Paris

12 September 2013

Businesses from the fashion and textile industry based in the Highlands and Islands are going to Paris next week where they will be introduced to new buyers, agents and distributers.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Development International (SDI) are supporting the businesses to get the most out of the trip which will provide design inspiration and insight into international markets.

Eight designer makers from the Highlands and Islands will make their way to France to visit Première Vision, the world’s premiere fabric show which takes place in Paris 17-19 September.

Accompanying them to Paris will be consultant Anne Richie who has a wealth of experience, having previously worked for leading brand names in design and product development roles. She now advises widely on design, products and trends to UK and international clients.

Anette Sopata from Ness, Isle of Lewis has been practicing as an independent kilt maker for the last five years under her label ‘Diggory Brown’. She creates contemporary kilt designs using Harris Tweed and other locally woven clothes such as Breanish Tweed and Scalpay Linen.

She said: “This learning journey will be hugely beneficial to my work. I have reached a stage where I need to develop the range of cloths I use for my kilt designs and accessories for ready to wear sales. I am currently developing the use of leather in my designs and so going to Première Vision would be the ideal opportunity for me to make contact with suppliers. I look forward to networking and understanding more about how the French market place works.”

Lizza Hume from Hume Sweet Hume on Westray, Orkney, designs and manufactures knitted textiles for homes and sells to trade and retail through their shop and website as well as retail shows.

She said: “Attending this show will provide invaluable benefits to our business. We are currently looking to pursue the export market and with input from Anne Ritchie, it will also provide us with invaluable insights into international trade. Living and working on small island limits the opportunity of networking, researching and so visiting shows like this and meeting key retailers in Paris, there is no doubt it will provide me with the inspiration and drive needed to carry our business on to the next stage. We are also looking to move into cashmere which is an appropriate textile to promote to the French market.

Janice Wallace, Creative Industries Development Manager at HIE, said: “The PV event is at the heart of an international network and has a unique approach based on meetings with leading international experts. This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses involved in this industry from the Highlands and Islands to develop new contacts, buyers and distributers.”

The group is also being co-ordinated by Pamela Conacher from Emergents – a company which provides advice, training and support to the fashion, craft and textile sector for designer makers across the Highlands and Islands.

Other makers attending the learning journey are: Catriona Clark (MacAllister) from Fochabers, Moray; Jen Deschenes from Fort William; Kirsteen Stewart and Verity Davies from Orkney; Sam Goats from Fochabers; Sheila Roderick from Isle of Scalpay, Harris.

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