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20 October 2007
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Jeff Banks

Jeff Banks

Jeff Banks has been a leading name in British fashion design for more than 40 years.

Born in Ebbw Vale in 1943, he studied textile and interior design at London's Camberwell School of Art, and between 1959 and 1962 at St Martin's College. From there he travelled to New York, where he enrolled at the Parsons School of Design.

In 1964, the year he left America, he opened the successful boutique Clobber in London, selling his own designs alongside those of others. The boutique became phenomenally successful, and he launched his own fashion label in 1969.

With business booming, in 1975 he opened the first standalone Jeff Banks shop in London, in addition to the 22 outlets in department stores including Harrods and Harvey Nichols. In 1979 and 1981 Jeff became British Designer of the Year, and in 1980 he was made British Coat Designer of the Year.

Towards the end of the 1970s he co-launched the fashion chain Warehouse, which targeted a younger market looking for high street fashions at lower prices. He also worked as a freelance designer for several companies including Liberty.

Banks' reputation for contemporary styles at affordable prices made him an obvious choice for presenting The Clothes Show, the BBC's long-running fashion show, alongside Selina Scott and Caryn Franklin.

The show was an instant success, and in 1989 the first Clothes Show Live event took place at the Birmingham NEC. There was also a Clothes Show Magazine. Jeff presented over 300 episodes of the show.

In 2000 Jeff was commissioned by Sainsbury's to design clothes for its stores. Although a success, his contract was terminated 10 months early in 2003. In the resulting dispute, Sainsbury's eventually agreed to pay a reported settlement of £1 million, plus a box of truffles every week.

He continues to work as a designer, and in 1990 redesigned the uniforms for the Brownies and Guides, presenting an array of blue, brown and yellow jumpers, polo shirts, t-shirts, culottes and shorts. More recently he designed clothes for London's 2012 Olympic bid, which were modelled at the launch by Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Steve Redgrave and Denise Lewis.

Jeff holds degrees from University of Lancashire, East London, Newcastle & Northumbria and Westminster, and is a Doctor of Arts.

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