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The British fashion designers to watch out for

May 1, 2018
Five NEWGEN designersImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Designers Supriya Lele, Grace Wales Bonner, Charles Jeffrey, Matty Bovan and Samuel Ross

Seventeen young designers have been chosen to receive support from the British Fashion Council (BFC) in 2018.

They will get funding, mentoring, and a show at London Fashion Week through its NEWGEN (New Generation) scheme.

“I’m looking for things that are surprising and innovative. That’s what British fashion stands for,” says Sarah Mower, ambassador for emerging Talent.

The British fashion designers to watch out forThe British fashion designers to watch out for

The scheme has previously helped launch the careers of Alexander McQueen, Simone Rocha and Erdem.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption NEWGEN recipient Richard Quinn’s designs caught the eye of the queen at London Fashion Week in February

The womenswear brands chosen this year are Halpern, Matty Bovan, Paula Knorr, Richard Malone, Richard Quinn and Supriya Lele.

While the menswear brands are A-Cold-Wall, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Kiko Kostadinov, Liam Hodges, Nicholas Daley, Per Gotesson, Phoebe English and Wales Bonner.

It’s also picked three accessories brands which are Alighieri, Isosceles and The Season Hats.

Newsbeat has been talking to some of this year’s recipients about how they’ve got to where they are.

Liam Hodges

Image copyrightEllis Scott
Image caption “I just started playing around making stuff, and I realised this is fun”

If you’re wondering why everyone’s wearing 90s sports brands, bucket hats and bold tracksuits again, ask Liam Hodges.

The 29-year-old’s menswear designs have drawn celebrity fans Drake, FKA Twigs and P Diddy, although Liam says he gets just as much enjoyment from seeing them on people in the street.

“I design for friends and people I know, so when I see people wearing them in real life that’s so important.”

Image copyrightLiam Hodges
Image caption Models backstage at Liam’s S/S 18 catwalk show

Growing up in Kent, Liam says he never imagined becoming a designer – he studied art at college.

“In my head menswear was all suits and tailoring, I wasn’t interested in it.

“But in 2007 there was a lot of change.

“People started making tracksuits as fashion and that’s what I was wearing anyway. I just started playing around making stuff, and I realised this is fun.”

Image copyrightPeter Cryer
Image caption Liam’s knitwear often features lively motifs, like this laughing bear

After his studying for an MA in menswear at the Royal College of Art, he tried hard to get the attention of buyers and stockists.

“I don’t know if I’ve always believed in myself – but I always thought I could get away with it,” he said.

The BFC will fund NEWGEN designers for up to six seasons – that’s around three years.

Liam has been receiving support through the scheme since 2016 and has launched a collaboration with sports giants Fila.

Image copyrightPeter Cryer
Image caption The designer’s collaboration with Fila is full of 90s references

“It’s given me a platform to get the clothes noticed, and it’s taught me about how to run a business too.”

Liam says that anyone dreaming of being a designer should use Instagram to promote their clothes.

“The internet is your platform. Create stuff and put it out there. You will get noticed.”


Image copyrightAligihieri
Image caption Jewellery designer Rosh Mahtani

“Shoes and bags are what really sell at the luxury brands, not the clothes,” explains Sarah Mower from the BFC.

That’s why, for the first time in its 25-year history, the NEWGEN scheme is supporting three new accessories brands.

Rosh Mahtani, founder of jewellers Alighieri, says: “As a child I loved collecting rocks and shells and making jewellery from them, making broken, imperfect things into special objects, which is what I do now.”

Image copyrightAligihieri
Image caption Aligihieri jewellery features gold poured into the shapes of coins

The brand is named after the Italian poet Dante and its jewellery features gold poured into the shapes of broken coins and fragments – as if excavated from a Roman burial site.

“I haven’t got a design background,” explains 29-year-old Rosh.

“I studied French and Italian at university and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.

“I spent a year doing the wrong jobs. I ran away to a hotel in Corsica, where I worked for a month, lived in a log cabin, and even moved to Australia for a bit. I felt lost.”

Image copyrightAligihieri
Image caption Her collections include ‘found’ objects like coins and shells

It wasn’t until Rosh did an internship with fashion magazine Harpers Bazaar that the idea of designing jewellery came to her.

She did a one-day training course in Hatton Garden, the London area famous for its jewellery shops.

Her first piece was a ring created from a crab she’d found that had missing legs.

“The first two years were hard. I was working as an au pair at the same time and everything I earned went back into the jewellery.”

Gradually she got attention.

“Each piece has a story. I would hand deliver things and tell the customer the story and become friends with them, then they’d tell their friends.”

Now the London-born designer employs two people at her studio and hopes that NEWGEN will help take her further.

“I feel really lucky. The difficulty now is learning how to grow the brand bigger.”

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