LONDON — Men’s wear e-tailer Mr Porter has picked three designers as the recipients of its inaugural Mr Porter Futures global designer mentorship program in partnership with Swedish online financial services provider Klarna.
Selected by the mentor selection committee — who included designer Nicholas Daley, Reese Cooper and Beams’ Tatsuo Hino — from thousands of applicants from 77 countries, the finalists are Saif Ud Deen; Messrs Ryan Edmonds and Julian Canda, and Kat Tua.
Each of them will receive the opportunity to build their own brand and deliver a minimum 15-piece collection for Mr Porter. Klarna will donate an award of 10,000 pounds to each brand to help it establish and grow their businesses.
They will also receive a 12-month bespoke business incubation program, coaching sessions from industry mentors and get 50 percent of the net profits generated from the sales of their collection on Mr Porter for a year.
Sam Kershaw, buying director of Mr Porter, said the committee was surprised by the quantity and quality of applications received.
“It has been amazing to witness what great, untapped talent there is around the world. We are excited to be working with Kat, Saif, Julian and Ryan — all of whom impressed the mentor selection committee with their vision, designs and determination to shape their experience and deliver environmental and socially positive collections.”
Beyond the mentoring and coaching, each designer will be supported by the team behind Mr Porter’s in-house label Mr P, and consultancy Create Sustain to gain the marketing and retail skills required to sustain the brands.
The collections will be made globally available in September 2022.
A practicing Muslim and third-generation British Pakistani, Ud Deen is a recent fashion design graduate from the University of Salford. The Manchester-based designer’s work takes inspiration from his own experience and explores the relationship between traditional Islamic attire and streetwear.
“I’ve always been interested in fashion and after graduating from my fashion design degree last year, I knew I wanted to have my own streetwear brand that represents my style and religious heritage; I just wasn’t sure how to go about it or how it would lead to a career path. My brother’s friend actually sent me the details of Mr Porter Futures, and I am glad he did as I still can’t believe I have been selected,” Deen said.
Chosen for their “attention to detail, skillful application of classic tailoring techniques, and the commercial potential of their designs,” Edmonds and Canda is a design duo based in Portland, Ore. They take inspiration from the natural world and gardens, with a strong focus on craftsmanship through functional silhouettes and natural fabrics.
“What I’m most looking forward to for the program is the opportunity to expand our knowledge and to learn and grow in the industry in a way we would never have been able to do on our own,” Edmonds said, adding that Canda informed him about winning as a copy of “The Walking Tour of London” and the Mr Porter edition of B Magazine were left in the middle of the cutting table in the studio, before receiving a text message that said, “London Is Calling.”
Canda added that “Ryan and I bring a range of different skills and experiences to the table, which makes our collaboration serendipitous but also strong to launch our own label. I’m looking forward to the growth we will experience throughout the program, not only the growth of our collection and brand itself but the growth for ourselves as individuals as well as designers and business owners.”
New Zealand native Tua has a decade’s worth of experience working as a product developer and designer for various fashion retailers. She quit her job at the end of 2020 to pursue a career as a solo designer. She stood out from the entries as the committee was impressed with her response to the design brief, which references her Maori heritage and takes inspiration from cultural movements in New Zealand in the ’70s.
Tua described her decision to quit last year as “by far the best decision I have made.”
“It was, of course, dramatic and unnerving at the time as I didn’t have a backup plan and started driving for Uber to make ends meet. It was then earlier this year I decided I was going to start my own men’s wear label and the Mr Porter Futures program came up at the perfect time. I applied because I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to learn about how to build my brand and be stocked on an amazing retailer with a global reach and audience. I’m such a product nerd, so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into samples, fabrics and all of that during the program,” she added.