A young designer today appealed to the organisers of the UK's showcase event, London Fashion Week, to give new designers, especially those in hard-hit areas, a chance.

East Midlands-based womenswear designer, Narrinder Sandhu, who has worked for Jasper Conran, John Rocha and Betty Jackson, applied to exhibit at this year's event later this month.

But the bitterly disappointed designer has had his application rejected by the British Fashion Council. Ironically, he has been accepted to exhibit at Paris Fashion Week.

And despite placing an advert in The File, the publication supporting the event, Narrinder has also had his request to place press packs in the official press office turned down. Instead, the nonconformist designer will be showing the autumn/winter 2001 collection for his djinn label at the Brompton Oratory during London Fashion Week from 19 - 23 February.

A spokesman for Leicester-based Narrinder said: "It is our belief that the British Fashion Council makes no effort to promote new British designers, especially outside of London. "It is a real shame that it won't do anything to help a designer who has chosen to make his base in Leicester, a struggling one-time epicentre of the textiles industry."

British Fashion Council spokesman, Simon Ward, administrator of London Fashion Week, said there are not enough places for the new designers who apply - a number that is growing every year.

He said: "The procedure for deciding who exhibits is very transparent. About 30 top journalists and buyers, experts in their field, sift through the entries. They hone in on what is expected to be seen in London at that time. There are about 150 first-time applications and only a proportion of these can be accepted. There is a huge demand and everyone is given an equal opportunity."

He added: "My advice to this designer is to apply again next year. It is common practice just to put the press packs of those exhibiting in the press office or we would need a press office the size of Clapham Common."

London Fashion Week was set up in 1983 and was originally known as the British Designer Show and held at Olympia. In 1993, it moved to the site of the Natural History Museum, due to increased size. Tent-type structures are put up outside the museum to house the work of the exhibitors.

By Deborah Bowyer