Young creators face cost dilemma at London Fashion Week

Young creators face cost dilemma at London Fashion Week

Turkish-British designer Dilara Findikoglu was one of the emerging talents to return to London Fashion Week this year, presenting her Autumn/Winter 2024 collection
Turkish-British designer Dilara Findikoglu was one of the emerging talents to return to London Fashion Week this year, presenting her Autumn/Winter 2024 collection. Photo: HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP/File
Source: AFP

To show or not to show at London Fashion Week? That was the question at this year's event for young independent brands facing higher costs post Brexit and soaring inflation.

Since its inception 40 years ago, London Fashion Week has provided a platform for emerging designers fresh out of prestigious schools like Central Saint Martins, alongside big players like Burberry.

However, a cost-of-living crisis in Britain prolonged by stubbornly-high inflation and financial fallout from the country's EU departure presents "incredibly challenging" times for young brands, according to British Fashion Council chief executive Caroline Rush.

London Fashion Week opened Friday, shortly after official data revealed that Britain was in recession, as high inflation takes its toll on households and businesses. The event wrapped up Tuesday, while the year's second LFW is due in September.

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Skip a show

This year's fashion week saw the return of Dublin-born menswear designer Robyn Lynch and Turkish-British peer Dilara Findikoglu -- both emerging and popular talents.

The latter's provocative female clothing has made Findikoglu one of the most anticipated names to showcase their latest designs.

However, she cancelled her September 2023 London show at the last minute, telling the New York Times: "We simply don't have the finances for a runway show right now."

Designers tend to book in for both shows in a single year.

This time around, the KWK by KAY KWOK show was cancelled after key pieces due to have featured on the London catwalk were destroyed following an unspecified incident at a factory in China.

Nensi Dojaka meanwhile failed to appear at the latest show.

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Rush downplayed the absences.

"There is nothing wrong with skipping a season. It doesn't mean to say that you're not continuing to grow," she told AFP.

"Sometimes the designers will be offered a free venue in another city... that might take them away from London," she added.

The label Feben decided to showcase in Milan for the current season, thanks to support from Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana.

Talent incubator

A way in which emerging talent can present their work without incurring big costs is to be given a place on the British Fashion Council's "NEWGEN", or talent incubator programme, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Those fortunate to secure a place receive a grant "to help them produce their collection", explained Rush.

"They receive mentoring around what it means to run a business, cash flow, management, margin, preparing for export."

The programme provides also a venue to showcase at London Fashion Week, which could be for example at a hotel close to the main setting.

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"So they don't have the cost of the venue, the lighting, the security, the health and safety, the backstage infrastructure and front of house infrastructure," noted Rush.

In all, the Council offers a three-year grant totalling about £80,000 ($101,000), which can be used to develop designs and branding, without worrying about the cost of a basic show in the region of £50,000.

Those to benefit currently include Simone Rocha and JW Anderson, while there are other incubator programmes helping young designers in the UK, such as Fashion East.

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Source: AFP

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