Guillaume Houzé and Nathalie Dufour

Recognizing the onerous investments required for young designers to compete today, French fashion prize ANDAM has increased the amount of its grand prize to 300,000 euros as it opens its 2021 edition. Previously, the top award was valued at 250,000 euros.

Nathalie Dufour, executive director of ANDAM, cited a will to make the prize more enticing to international contenders, and noted the shift to digital presentations, showrooms and communications, plus costs related to sustainable production, have created a new set of expenses — not forgetting the impact of the pandemic on business in general.

“It’s very difficult for young brands,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

Candidates for the grand prize can be of any nationality, but must own a French company or set one up during the same year as the receipt of the fellowship. (Applicants must also have shipped at least two seasonal collections internationally and have registered a minimum turnover of 300,000 euros in 2020.)

The prestigious award also comes with a year of mentoring on creative and business matters from this year’s jury president, Cédric Charbit, chief executive officer of Balenciaga.

“With all the jury members, we will have the great responsibility of identifying and supporting leading talents of the future, from everywhere, and helping them develop their brand,” Charbit said.

He and ANDAM president Guillaume Houzé, who oversees communications for Galeries Lafayette Group and is president of the Galeries Lafayette foundation, are to reveal this year’s jury at a later date.

Also on Wednesday, ANDAM revealed the mentors for its other three prizes.

Sophie Delafontaine, artistic director at Longchamp, is to mentor the winner of the Pierre Bergé Prize, which focuses on young French companies and is worth 100,000 euros; Giovanna Engelbert, Swarovski’s creative director, the winner of the Fashion Accessories Prize, which comes with a sum of 50,000 euros, and Yann Gozlan, founder and president of Creative Valley, the Innovation Prize, also valued at 50,000 euros.

Candidates are invited to apply until April 27. Finalists are to be revealed at the end of May with the jury gathering on July 1 to select the 2021 winners.

Created in 1989 by Dufour with the support of the French government and the DEFI and with the late Pierre Bergé as president, ANDAM — the French acronym for National Association of the Development of the Fashion Arts — has been a springboard for designers who would go on to achieve international recognition.

Past winners include Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Christophe Lemaire, Anthony Vaccarello and Jeremy Scott.

For its 2020 edition, which unfurled amid the early days of the coronavirus crisis, ANDAM pivoted to a “family fund award” focused on former winners and finalists, ultimately granting 200,000 euros to Marine Serre and 150,000 euros to Glenn Martens’ Y/Project.

Dufour recalled that the first editions of the prize offered a symbolic amount, roughly 7,500 euros, when it was tilted more to “cultural recognition.”

The level of support has vastly increased because of the arrival of large corporate sponsors, which now include Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloé, Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Galeries Lafayette, Google, Hermès, Kering, Lacoste, Longchamp, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, L’Oréal Paris, OTB, Premiere Classe, Saint Laurent, Swarovski and Tomorrow.

The ANDAM receives about 400 submissions for its four key prizes, Dufour noted.