NEW YORK — London Fashion Week is teaming with the U.S. contemporary trade show Designers & Agents to bring hip American designers to this fall’s British fashion lineup.
The partnership is part of the British Fashion Council’s initiative to position London as the showcase.
“This is a new leaf for London Fashion Week, and we really want to reinforce our platform as the place for young and cool designers,” said Benedicte Bro, of London Fashion Week’s international office. “London has always been the hotbed for new talent. Paris, of course, is important, but it’s so big that it’s difficult for a new designer to be visible, whereas London is small enough to be a really good place for a new designer to be seen by someone who has a true influence.”
The British Fashion Council is extending airfare and hotel discounts to participants. Exhibitors will pay from $2,750 for a seven-foot booth to $8,000 for a 25-foot space.
Designers & Agents will show Sept. 19-22 in a space London Fashion Week is setting aside. The trade show will bring only 18 exhibitors, including Calypso, a high-end, bohemian-inspired collection, and Organic, an eco-friendly line.
“We are starting with a small but great group,” said Ed Mandelbaum, co-founder of Designers & Agents.
One trait of interest to both Designers & Agents and its European ally is eco-friendliness. Exhibitors can apply through designersandagents.com.
“There’s limited space available, and we are looking for product that can translate well into the English market, brands that have a clear point of view and a good performance record at retail, as well as a design ethic that is in line with the price point and quality of the product,” said Barbara Kramer, the show’s other head.
The relative weakness of the U.S. dollar makes this a good time for U.S. designers to sell to international buyers. “Designers & Agents is going to bring us American collections, which is something Europe is wanting — all of Europe,” Bro said. “All these countries are looking to America right now because of the relationship of the dollar to the euro. Plus, American sportswear is the best in the world.”
Designers & Agents has shown in Los Angeles for about a decade and took its show to Tokyo in 2001, making its debut in New York two years later. Mandelbaum and Kramer had been scouting out a European location, flying to Paris, Milan and London, waiting for the right opportunity. When London made the offer in the spring, they jumped.
Both sides plan for the partnership to continue. The only downside, they agree, is that this year London Fashion Week’s dates overlap with New York trade show dates. Designers & Agents will show in New York Sept. 17-19 and will begin showing in London Sept. 19. Bro said she hopes London will be able to work with New York next year to eliminate such conflicts. “Most companies have two collections and representatives, but we will miss out on some great people who are too small, which is a shame because we are about those small designers,” Mandelbaum said.