In her first move since leaving Topshop at the end of last year, former brand director Jane Shepherdson has teamed up with Jaeger chairman Harold Tillman to launch a venture capital fund for new designers.

The fund is the brainwave of the Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE), which was launched by London College of Fashion in 2003 and has helped launch names like Basso & Brooke, Marios Schwab (this year's New Designer of the Year), Erdem and Manish Arora.

Shepherdson and Tillman will be joined on the board by Lord Dennis Stevenson, chairman of HBOS, and other industry luminaries.

The committee hopes to raise several million pounds to fund young fashion entrepreneurs and guide them through the critical early years of their businesses.
It will make capital investments in selected London based fashion businesses that have out-grown the seed funding stage, providing backing and strategic support to assist them in developing and executing their international sales strategies by investing at a critical stage of a fashion brand's growth.

Tillman last year started his own GBP1m scholarship programme for London College of Fashion students and said: "Investors find it notoriously difficult to place a value on a young creative brand. This substantial venture capital fund will be directed by those who understand the value.

"It's incredibly important to support these emerging designers who often face huge pressure and are not able to support their incredible talent when they reach a crucial growth stage.

"London is a hotbed of creativity, but starved of funds leading to home-grown talent deciding to fly the nest. We will do all we can to prevent this."

The fund is expected to get off the ground this autumn, with initial backing of at least GBP5m.