Launched in 2008, with the aim of supporting new design talent in London through a year-long mentoring scheme and a cash prize award of £200,000, the BFC Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Six finalists have been chosen to compete for the coveted prize and the panel tasked with making this year’s decision is chaired by Vogue editor Edward Enninful and features a wealth of industry experts, including Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, model Jourdan Dunn and designer Erdem Moralioglu. As well as giants of the British fashion industry, including Harrods, Burberry and Topshop, this year the prize will also be supported by China’s biggest retailer JD.com, which will be offering advice to the winner on how to crack the lucrative Chinese market. With such an incredible prize on offer the competition is bound to be stiff and we take a look at the six shortlisted brands vying for victory.
David Koma’s fitted, structured dresses have been seen on red carpets across the globe and are favoured by celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lopez and Maria Sharapova. The Central Saint Martins graduate was mentored by the late Professor Louise Wilson and launched his line upon graduating in 2009. As well as designing his eponymous collection, Koma was also appointed creative director of Mugler in 2013, a position he held until 2017. He is now focussing on the continued growth of his established label and the fund would allow him to expand both online and across multiple markets.
Huishan Zhang launched his eponymous brand in 2011 and opened his first stand-alone boutique in London’s Mayfair in 2017. Zhang’s elegant dresses and frothy feminine blouses in signature candy shades have captured the hearts of the fashion industry, season after season. With his sights set on an even bigger market, the Chinese-born London-based designer is now keen to expand his business into e-commerce to keep up with the growing global demand for his stunning creations.
Founded in 2014 as a modern take on the long kilt-making heritage of creator Samantha McCoach’s family, Le Kilt is celebrating its fourth anniversary in the industry. What began as a range of chic, contemporary kilts has now evolved into a full ready-to-wear line, featuring denim and knitwear interspersed with traditional Scottish tartan. The brand is fully aligned with the philosophy of buying less and buying quality garments. McCoach would love to open a retail space and run educational workshops promote longevity and sustainability in clothing.
First launched under the Fashion East umbrella, famed for launching brands such as House of Holland, Jonathan Saunders and Roksanda Ilincic, Marques’ Almeida is the brainchild of Central Saint Martins graduates Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida. The duo, famed for their sculptural yet effortless designs and statement shredded denim, have been an exciting name on the London fashion scene for over seven years. For them the fund would herald the start of a global expansion plan to promote Marques’ Almeida around the world.
One of the freshest names on the London fashion scene, Molly Goddard creates voluminous tulle gowns which are championed by stars such as Rihanna, Erin O’Connor, Adwoa Aboah and Edie Campbell. Since launching her eponymous brand in 2015, Molly has enjoyed huge success, winning British Emerging Talent at the British Fashion Awards 2016 and named as a LVMH Prize finalist in 2017. Molly would use the fund not only to expand her team and product offering but also to educate herself on the best way to grow a sustainable brand with longevity.
Korean-born designer Rejina Pyo’s career has gone from strength to strength since she graduated from Central Saint Martins. After working as first assistant to renowned British designer Roksanda Ilincic, Pyo launched her eponymous line in 2014 and has enjoyed huge success in London and beyond. A firm favourite with the fashion crowd, the brand’s designs are just as likely to be seen on the front row as on the catwalk. The ready-to-wear line plays with proportion beautifully while the label’s modern, minimal accessories collection is endlessly covetable. For Pyo, the fund would mean expansion in her native Korea and further afield.