David Watts is the Fashion Business Adviser and a Mentor at the British Fashion Council. He is heavily involved in nurturing and supporting new British designers into fulfilling their potential on the world fashion stage.
What does the BFC do in a nutshell?
The British Fashion Council was formed in 1983 out of the Fashion Industry Action Group, an ad hoc group created in 1981.
It aims to showcase British designers and develop London’s position as a major player in the international fashion arena.
As a result, London Fashion Week ranks alongside New York, Milan and Paris as one of the ‘Big Four’. It is also where The BFC showcase the best of British designer collections to international press and buyers.
What is the BFC NEWGEN catwalk sponsorship?
NEWGEN continues to showcase and promote new designer businesses today. The scheme is sponsored by Topshop, supporters since 2001. Sponsored catwalk designers receive financial support towards their show costs and usage of the BFC Catwalk Show Space, whilst others receive sponsored presentation or exhibition space to showcase their collections, offering an important introduction for young UK-based designers to influential press and buyers from around the world.
What names should we be looking out for in the next year or two?
London has some of the most exciting designers in the world and a small selection of the current crop are Christopher Raeburn, JW Anderson, James Long, and Craig Lawrence for fashion and Nasir Mazhar, Jordan Askill and Dominic Jones for accessories/millinery and jewellery are definitely ones to watch.
Do you think you can become a successful designer without studying fashion at college?
Creativity can manifest itself in many different forms and whilst it is hugely beneficial to study fashion it is not absolutely necessary. Fashion college can teach basic principles and also help designers to both focus their ideas and learn how to develop and articulate their creativity in ways that can be helpful to working in the industry.
Many successful fashion designers started their career in different disciplines, such as graphic design and architecture and went on to become high-profile famous designers.
What help can young designers get to make that step from College to earning a living as a designer?
There are many different routes to a career in fashion. Doing an internship is a very good way of seeing how a designer fashion label works from grassroots. Networking and making contacts within the industry can be very beneficial- research workshops, seminars on different aspects of the industry such as Buyer relations, Sales, Manufacturing and Production, can all offer invaluable knowledge to emerging designers.
What do you think of the current UK Fashion Scene?
The UK Fashion scene today is very exciting and dynamic, and going through quite a few changes. Although economic factors present very challenging trading times, it is also out of adversity that some of the best design ideas and innovative ways of doing business can emerge.
The Fashion industry is changing at a rapid pace with the mega High St retailers wielding huge buying power and the Luxury sector going through a renaissance, changing the way ‘high net worth’ individuals shop.
Ecommerce and digital strategies are also moving the goal posts for fashion. If you don’t have large budgets, then you have to think ‘more creatively’ but everything is possible so rule nothing out.
Has the success of brands such as ‘Super Dry’ been good for the industry in the UK?
Super Dry is not dissimilar to many other successful fashion brands on the High St today. They have become a very powerful business and generate large retail sales which is of course good for the British economy and retail, which has had a real
hammering in the past 3 years due to the recession.
Where is the best place to pick up a bargain?
Pics: James Long (top), JW Anderson (middle), Craig Lawrence (bottom)