Paul Smith Foundation Launches Mentoring Program for Young Talent at London’s Smithfield Market

LONDON — The Paul Smith Foundation is throwing its support behind a new hub dedicated to emerging design talent at Smithfield Market in London.

The foundation has partnered with the Mayor of London’s office and Projekt, a work and events space provider, to create The Fashion Residency at Studio Smithfield, a three-year business, creative and marketing boot camp for emerging designers.

The residency will take place inside a new creative hub located above the historic meat market in Smithfield’s northwest quadrant. The space has been designed by Projekt, with six new studios, each spanning 400 square feet.

The designers taking part in the program will have access to a total of 5,000 square feet of temporary workspace in the newly refurbished space. In addition to the studios, there will also be a media suite, events spaces and a photography studio.

The program will last three years, and support three cohorts of six designers for 12 months. The designers will also take part in an in-depth mentoring program with industry leaders. According to the Paul Smith Foundation, the aim is to help the designers establish businesses and “create a sustainable footing for when they leave.”

The Mayor of London and Projekt have funded the six creative studios, and have each invested 175,000 pounds to cover the rent and fit out of the spaces.

The Paul Smith Foundation has designed the mentoring program, which will feature workshops, group seminars and one-on-one tutoring. There will be more than 40 hours of teaching across sectors including legal, finance, production, wholesale, content creation, styling, communications and social media.

The foundation said the aim is for designers to leave the program with complete business plans, portfolios, cashflow projections, communications and social media strategies, as well as usable template agreements in IP, employment, partnership and licensing.

The application process opens this week and closes on April 14. Designers will be pre-selected by a panel of industry experts and mentors, and the final six will be chosen by Sir Paul Smith and Justine Simons, London’s deputy mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries. 

“I set up Paul Smith’s Foundation to bring about opportunities and give helpful advice to creative people. I’m excited to be working with a generous team of industry experts and partners to build solid businesses for the long term, and celebrate London’s brilliant and diverse creative talent,” Smith said.

Simons said the program will give upcoming fashion designers “the chance to take their careers and businesses to the next level by providing them with incredible space in the heart of the London and linking them with leading professionals. Our creatives are the beating heart of London, and play an instrumental role in our economy, and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”

Mentors will include Charlie Casely-Hayford, cofounder of Casely-Hayford; Henry Holland, the ceramicist and founder of HoH; Laura Weir, creative director at Selfridges; Matthew Mumford, head of creative at Paul Smith; and Orsola de Castro, creative director of Estethica and cofounder of Fashion Revolution.

The program is also supported by British GQ, which will run workshops on digital growth, and fashion shoots. It will also host networking events.

The Smithfield project is part of the Mayor of London’s commitment to help the capital’s creative industries. According to the mayor’s office, its support of the British Fashion Council, Film London, London Design Festival and London Games Festival has helped those organizations secure more than 2.8 billion pounds in sales, trade and investment in the capital since 2019.

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