George at Asda has stepped in at the final hour to headline sponsor Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) and save the event from extinction.
GFW, which showcases the work of graduates from 65 courses at 46 universities, had all but run out of funding after River Island ended its lead sponsorship deal this summer after six years.
George at Asda said it had become the key supporter of GFW, which is thought to cost up to £700,000 to stage each year, because it wanted to educate graduates about the array of career opportunities in the fashion industry.
Fiona Lambert, brand director at George and mentor for GFW, said: “Despite the tough economy, we felt we should pull out all the stops to come forward and support our young graduates. These students are the emerging designers of tomorrow and I am delighted that we are able to support their future careers, and that they will still able to showcase their collections in London next June.”
GFW managing director June Barker said that given the economic climate it had been an “extremely challenging time” for GFW to secure new sponsorship and she was “delighted” George at Asda had come to its rescue.
George at Asda is one of 150 employers which support the Government’s Backing Young Britatin campaign which launched last year to encourage internships and work experience placements to help youth employment. George offered around 500 work experience places this year and took on 61 graduates from its Young People Programme.
The retailer has a five year business plan to become the number one retailer in non-food, which includes clothing, and wants to bring in new talent.
Barker added: “We have enjoyed 10 fantastic years with high street sponsors River Island and Topshop [the previous sponsor before River Island] and are really looking forward to working with George in the coming months to deliver another exciting event.”
Graduate Fashion Week 2011 will take place from June 5-8 at Earls Court in London. The event was founded by designer Jeff Banks in 1991 and celebrates its 20th anniversary next year.