TRUST IN ME: Twelve British fashion labels have won funding through the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Trust program.
Grants totaling 350,000 pounds, or $511,716, will be shared among Eudon Choi; Fyodor Golan; Gareth Pugh; Hillier Bartley; Holly Fulton; Huishan Zhang; Marques’ Almeida; Palmer Harding; Phoebe English; Prism; Rejina Pyo and Sibling.
The announcement was made during an event on Tuesday night hosted by BFC Fashion Trust co-chairs Tania Fares and Kim Hersov and José Neves, founder and chief executive officer of Farfetch.com, which is sponsoring the program this year. Caroline Rush, ceo of the British Fashion Council, also served as a host.
Farfetch will offer its support by providing advice and mentoring in the digital, e-commerce and global arenas to the designers. The designers will also be able to access advice from Taylor Wessing on copyright and IP law and the global investment firm Rothschild.
Pugh, who is receiving funds from the grant for the first time, said he plans to put them toward expanding and developing his label’s operations.
“As an established independent label, it’s important to be in a position to call upon a wide field of business knowledge and experience, so to have the opportunity to plug into this kind of resource is entirely welcome,” Pugh told WWD.
“The point of all of this is to create powerful clothing and imagery that might engage in a cultural dialogue. I do think it’s important to recognize that if you want to achieve continued success and for your company to grow, you need to work with an eye toward business, which is certainly where we’re at now,” he added.
Other first timers include Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida of Marques’ Almeida said they will use the funds to focus on their business needs. “The structural side of our business is what needs more help,” Marques said. “Intellectual property and legalities have to be invested in, staff and HR infrastructure is constantly needing more and more investment, and we need to [look after] and be able to invest in doing more and in taking creative risks.”
English also said she will use the funds in the areas of her business that need development. “We are a stage now where we have changed the label’s structure and doubled our output as we have launched our menswear line,” she told WWD. “There are currently lots of changes and exciting opportunities and we are definitely at a point where the BFC Fashion Trust could make a huge difference for us, as we are right at the beginning of so many new progressions.”
Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding of Palmer Harding said the support — which they also received last year — changed their brand immensely. They recently moved their studio to Old Street and plan to make more hires in the future.
“The grant enabled us to take the plunge to hire our first full-time employee, who has proved to be a huge value to our business. It also enabled us to invest in stock for our web site, which launched officially in November and has been a tremendous success with growing figures every month. Lastly, it gave us a huge boost in confidence at a time when we really needed it, that in itself is invaluable. We will be expanding our collections to offer a pre-fall collection, which is really exciting,” Palmer said.
Zhang said he wants to make key hires within his label, and plans to set up an e-commerce site and a bricks-and-mortar store. Meanwhile, Pyo will put her winnings toward investing more in her e-shop platform.
The London-based designer who launched her web shop a few months ago has already seen growth and is currently eyeing Asian expansion. “Going forward, I want the brand to expand globally,” Pyo told WWD. “Especially deeper into the American and Asian markets. We are suddenly getting a lot of interest from Asia and we want to keep this momentum going.”
Launched in 2011, the Fashion Trust is a charity initiative that works with the BFC.