Matty Bovan, Richard Malone, Phoebe English, Richard Quinn, and Deanna and Laura Fanning of Kiko Kostadinov reflect on the city’s landscape post-LFW
Despite recent surges of young fashion creatives rising up in New York and Paris, London has always been the OG when it comes to discovering and cultivating new and exciting names.
This is largely down to the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN programme, and Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East initiative, both of which are dedicated to championing and supporting new, emerging talent. Between them, they have cultivated the likes of Jonathan Anderson, Christopher Kane, Charles Jeffrey, Grace Wales Bonner, and so many more over the years.
With the speed of fashion constantly increasing, now more than ever it’s important for young talent to have a support system in place when it comes to dealing with the many pressures that come with working in the industry. Here, we catch up with five NEWGEN-supported designers following their AW19 shows to discuss how they noticed London’s fashion scene changing from a firsthand perspective.
“There is an exciting energy in London with a lot of raw talent, and that always needs to happen and be supported both in London and the UK in general. I am very lucky being based in Yorkshire and I’m also very lucky to have such great industry support; I get to work with factories, suppliers, and craftspeople all over the UK and beyond.
In the future, I just hope the pace will slow a little. Some designers are doing several collections a year and it’s scary; scary to have to be that creative and create a whole world each season. I think it’s great that we are finally having more conversations about how creativity can survive in 2019 and beyond, especially with Brexit looming, there is something in the air that's quite scary.
I hope that people respond to my view of the world, and specifically in the UK, through my chosen platform of fashion. Whether we like it or not fashion does showcase a moment in time, both socially and politically.”
“It’s a really interesting time in fashion right now, where I feel there’s a real shift towards interesting and engaging shows and presentations. The scope of acceptance has spread the idea of inclusivity which is really strong and inspiring. More than ever, people have such unique voices and are unafraid to show how they feel. When we are in troubled times, creativity always prevails and I think we will see that in these especially trying times. I hope people will look back and see the vision I created and think we created interesting clothes that made them feel something.”
LAURA & DEANNA FANNING (KIKO KOSTADINOV)
“It’s hard to predict how fashion will change post-Brexit, but we hope all the upcoming changes won’t affect our way of working too much and we can still be really free with the way we operate. We would love for the industry and world at large to care more about the work itself, rather than how it is perceived through social media, or by people viewed as important on online platforms. Moving forward, we want to keep being focused on creating and establishing our own design language which will hopefully grow into something bigger.”
“The fashion industry is an agile and flexible sector. It has the ability and natural drive to change and develop itself very quickly once it gets hold of something, and this is especially true of London. Since I started the label almost eight years ago, I’ve seen increased positive changes in the use of body positive models, increased diversity in casting, increased fluidity in the non-gendering of clothing, as well as an increased awareness of the sustainability of the fashion industry. Fashion is truly moving in London – it’s amazing to watch.
We are at a stage now where we know the facts. And you can’t unknow the facts once you know them. I personally hope that we as designers can evolve. Designers by definition are problem solvers and we are now as a race in front of the the biggest problem-solving mission we will ever face. Our house is on fire. We need to quite literally design our way out of this mess. Evolve or die. We all need to contribute, each and every one of us. In every choice we make. We all now know these facts and their consequences, and we can no longer have the luxury of pretending that we don’t. I hope to leave a small mark on the world with my work – there is too much emphasis in fashion (and the world in general) about ‘bigger being better’, which is never something I’ve fitted into or been interested in. So, I suppose, I hope to leave a small, considered, and very personal mark.”
“I think the whole system is on the brink of collapse, and many of us young designers are ready to rebuild it in our own language, especially here in London. My generation is more concerned with moving conversations forward. Everything from sustainability to casting is vital to our brands, they’re an extension of who we are as designers and what we’re trying to say.
Adapting sustainable practices is essential. Once these corporations realise sustainability has become an important part of buying patterns, that’s when change will really happen. Personally, I spend so much time, energy, and budget on research and innovation, and have done so since the very beginning. People are starting to take notice of these things, and it’s really resonating with customers. The increasing demand for more transparency is changing our industry, and if a certain standard of sustainable practices are adopted across the industry we will definitely achieve the goals we’ve set ourselves.
I want people to look at a designer’s career and understand that it’s about learning and developing, over a long period of time. I want to look back at my own career and see that I’ve learned and progressed each season, that I’ve challenged myself and others… That I’ve brought something new to the table and also one of integrity and honesty. I hope this endless cycle we are seeing of hype brands stops, where these designers peak only a few years after graduating. The creative spectrum is broad enough for everyone’s voice to be heard, and for each brand to its own relevance in the conversation.”