British Fashion Council British Vogue Event

THREE’S COMPANY: The BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is spreading the wealth with plans to hand its prize money and mentoring award to a maximum of three designers rather than one in 2017.

Those in charge of the fund also want the winners to focus on human resources, and put their prize money toward a “full-time or consultant team member” to advise on areas such as accountancy, merchandising, business strategy, international growth, retail and e-commerce.

The revised application process for 2017 will also encourage brands to think strategically about business growth, with the committee asking candidates “to embrace the impact that hiring experienced talent has had on previous winners.”

The British Fashion Council said that in recognition of “the increasing pool of deserving talent,” the 200,000 pounds, or $250,000, grant would be shared between up to three recipients next year.

It said the move would enable the fund “to benefit multiple designers at a pivotal stage in the growth of their brand’s development.” All winners will continue to receive a full mentoring program through the BFC’s business support team, including access to investors and industry experts, it added.

Established in 2008, the fund aims to discover new talent and accelerate the development of the next leading British brand. Winners receive mentoring over a 12-month period, and the prize money in the past has been earmarked for investments in infrastructure.

Shortlisted designers will be interviewed by the fashion fund judging committee, which is chaired by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman. Judges include Samantha Cameron, Britain’s former first lady and a BFC ambassador; Caroline Rush, the BFC’s chief executive; retailer Joan Burstein, and Topshop’s managing director Mary Homer.

The BFC said the 2017 format would serve as a test run, and the committee would evaluate whether to do the same next year, or return to a single-prize format. The overarching aim, it said, is to maximize the impact of the prize on building solid businesses.

Previous BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund winners include Erdem, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Nicholas Kirkwood, Sophia Webster, Peter Pilotto and Mary Katrantzou.

The online retailer Label will support the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund for the first time this year. It joins existing donors Burberry, Harrods, Paul Smith, Topshop and Vogue.

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