An innovative new home for East London’s fashion economy has been launched. 

Poplar Works, an innovative new home for East London’s fashion economy was officially opened this month by London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, who met with the building’s first resident creatives, before inaugurating the project.

Designed by award-wining architects Adams & SutherlandPoplar Works is the £6m transformation of 100 disused garages in the Aberfeldy and Teviot neighbourhoods, into 45 custom-designed, low-cost workshops and studios, a public café and events space, and manufacturing facilities offering enterprise support and training programmes for the creative industries.

The project was designed to nurture the existing talent and entrepreneurship in the area, by providing affordable workspace and training opportunities, as well as creating a new community facility.

Located in the heart of the Fashion District, it has been delivered by housing association Poplar HARCA, in partnership with London College of Fashion, UAL and social enterprise The Trampery. The scheme is supported by funding from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund – a landmark regeneration initiative that champions growth and community development in the capital, with support from the London Economic Action Partnership.

Fashion has a special place in East London’s story, once making a significant financial and cultural contribution to the area. Poplar Works was conceived around the simple idea that fashion could again become a major part of East London’s social and economic make-up.

Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, said: “London is overflowing with talent and imagination, but our creative workforce is under threat because of the shortage of affordable studios, rising rents and the insecurity of short-term leases. These new studios at Poplar Works will allow artists to put down roots in the heart of the growing Fashion District in East London. Turning these disused garages into affordable workspaces, training and business facilities will make a really big difference to the next generation of designers and entrepreneurs.”

Steve Stride, CEO of Poplar HARCA, said: “This project is embedded in the Poplar community. It will boost the local economy and provide fantastic opportunities for those wanting to train or work in the fashion industry – bringing the sector back to its East London roots. Poplar is already rich in talent and entrepreneurship, and we are excited to see this grow by providing jobs, training and workspace for local people.”

Mohammad Muhith, Co-founder of Essential Range based at Poplar Works, said: “As a fashion entrepreneur and resident of Poplar, I’m delighted to have secured a workspace at Poplar Works. This is exactly the kind of facility, which will support which will support my knitwear brand and help businesses like mine to grow and flourish. There is a strong fashion and manufacturing heritage within the local community and I’m excited to see opportunities in the fashion sector coming back to East London.”