R.I.P Manchester Fashion Week

It’s come as a big disappointment to many in the fashion industry, especially those in the vicinity of Manchester, to learn that Manchester Fashion Week has been officially cancelled. According to the Manchester Evening News the main sponsor of the event, boohoo.com, withdrew its support as of last month, just three weeks before the five-day fashion event was to begin on 22 April.

Speaking for boohoo.com, Leanne Childs told M.E.N. earlier this month that events beyond their control had precipitated the action after the National Football Museum at Urbis announced they would not be hosting the event as planned.

A museum spokeswoman told M.E.N. that the museum had been working with Fashion Week organisers to find a workable solution, but conditions and terms could not be met. “The National Football Museum is a registered charity,” she said, “and must act in the best interests of its trustees and stakeholders on all occasions.” Those interests were not being served because payment for hire of the venue was not being made.

That problem was predated by failure on the part of organisers to pay outstanding bills from last year’s inaugural fashion event, launched by Jonathan Sassen with the aim of rivaling other such events in Paris, Milan and London. The event was directed by Mark Blundell along with Mr. Sassen, but Blundell resigned as director a month later, leaving Sassen in charge.

The finale came when Manchester District Registry ruled that the company behind Manchester Fashion Week would go into liquidation due to unpaid bills totaling around £20,000 owed to models and agencies that did work for the inaugural event. The main creditor was Stream Pictures, who got only a £1,000 payment on an invoice of over £11,000 that was due in full in May of 2012.

In the interim, whilst not paying his outstanding debts, Sassen started a new company called Fashion Foundation Ltd., and the credit controller for Stream Pictures, Pat Ford, said that did not strike them as a good sign. Ford noted that his company had tried to work with Sassen on payment arrangements, but kept being stalled off, and when Sassen came out with the new company, Ford felt their odds of getting paid were too slim, and filed the petition.

The remaining assets of the Manchester Fashion Week firm will now be in the hands of liquidators who will decide if and how much will be repaid to the various creditors.