By  on September 11, 2007

Lulu Kennedy is the force behind Fashion East and Man, shows dedicated to featuring and supporting new British fashion design talent.

Kennedy founded Fashion East in collaboration with Topshop six years ago, and added the Man men's wear show to the mix — with Topman's support — in fall 2005. Those runway projects have since launched the careers of Louise Goldin, Danielle Scutt, Siv Stoldal, Gareth Pugh and Carola Euler. Fashion East is a permanent fixture on the London Fashion Week schedule, and Man joins the official London lineup this season.

Kennedy started out as an events and production planner at East London's Truman Brewery complex. Her first exposure to the fashion world was in the late Nineties leasing studio spaces to young designers, including Preen, Emma Cook and Camilla Staerk. It was actually the landlord at the Brewery who suggested she find a sponsor and organize something "creative" in the space, which was when Fashion East was born.

Not long after, Kennedy came up with the idea of Man after attending a Central Saint Martins fashion show — and being wowed by the talent on offer.

"I just said to myself: 'Look at all these men's designers — we have to do something, or they will all go away and get jobs somewhere else." Kennedy said there is no criteria for choosing the designers at Fashion East and Man. "It's completely instinctive. I don't do it by trends. You can't doubt yourself, either. Not everyone is going to like what you pick."

Here's a rundown of the Man labels, Topman Design, Kim Jones, Cassette Playa by designer Carri Mundane and Aitor Throup.

Topman Design

Launched in 2002 as an in-house design label at Topman (Topshop's twin brother), Topman Design now has a 13-strong core team known for creating affordable, fashion-forward collections. "We launched Topman Design because we wanted a vehicle for more interesting pieces, and to take Topman to another level," said design director Gordon Richardson. The label is sold to international retailers including Barneys New York, Selfridges and Laforet in Tokyo.

This season, the Topman Design collection has three themes: Academic, Lost Future and River Rats. Each will explore a different area, from the collegiate aesthetic to new technical fabrics to tailoring.Kim Jones

After a four-year absence from London Fashion Week, Kim Jones returns to show his KJ diffusion line as part of Man. "I wanted to do something here, where all the people who had supported me in the past could see me," said Jones. He first showed in London in 2003 after graduating from Central Saint Martins with a master's degree in men's wear. Since then, Jones has collaborated with Umbro on a sportswear collection and shown in Paris and New York, and in 2006, the British Fashion Council named him Men's Wear designer of the year. Jones' spring collection will focus on tailoring. "We have neon seersucker suits, and jersey mixed with tailored pieces. It's still tailoring, but with a quirky edge."

Aitor Throup

Aitor Throup is showing with Man for the second time this season. The Argentine-born designer and illustrator created an installation of sketches and sculpture for fall, and this fashion week he will be showing a fashion collection for the first time. Throup is best known for his whimsical, costume-inspired designs, which are based on his own imagined characters. "The garments are like wearable versions of the characters I create," he said. Throup graduated with a bachelor's degree in fashion from the Manchester Metropolitan University, before completing his master's degree at the Royal College of Art.

Cassette Playa

"I call this collection Pixel Warriors," said Carri Mundane, the 27-year-old designer behind Cassette Playa. "It's building on virtual reality, but in this reality." Mundane is showing for the fourth time as part of the Man lineup. The designer is known for digital-inspired graphics, pixilated prints and "Nu Rave" sportswear. Mundane is also a regular stylist for I.D. and Dazed and Confused magazines, bands including The Klaxons and rapper M.I.A.

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