The energy behind new fashion designers
It's been 14 years already since Lulu Kennedy created a platform to help and support up and coming designers. Named one of the most influential people in fashion, Lulu says that the Fashion East Initiative never feels like work, but more like fun. Her passion has turned new fashion designers into independent, solid brands.
Have you heard about Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll or Gareth Pugh? Did you know all of them started out with the financial and logistic support of Fashion East?
There are many things to be taken into account when launching a collection and it is hard to do all that without a professional team. When you are a fresh graduate with big dreams and with a huge student loan to pay back, it is not easy to even be thinking about starting your own label. But if you are talented and determined, your chances of succeeding in the business increase considerably.
One of these great chances goes by the name of Fashion East Initiative, an organization created to help launch new fashion designers and help them make a name for themselves.
Ashley Williams/Fashion East at LFW AW14
The team at Fashion East offers three womenswear and three menswear designers a bursary, free venue and complete catwalk show production, professional photography and video services during London Fashion Week. And this is not all. Designers are also given mentoring, guidance and in-house PR throughout the season. With the help of fashion riches Topshop and Topman, the sponsorship can go up to a maximum of three seasons.
And this is not all. The new designers in fashion chosen by Fashion East are also taken to a Paris sales show room, where top international buyers can check out their collections. This is more than enough for a head start, not to mention all the media attention surrounding London Fashion Week. Probably one of the best things about Fashion East is that the team led by Lulu supervises the work of new designers in fashion until they are satisfied by the result and feel like the collections are ready for the London Fashion Week runway.
Helen Lawrence AW14 at LFW/Fashion East
The new fashion designers of Fashion East are selected by Lulu Kennedy and a series of specialists in the business like Francesca Burns, a fashion editor at Vogue UK or Kay Barron and fashion features director at Net-a-Porter. The application process begins online, on the Fashion East website. Starting from this year, Graduate Fashion Week in London moved to the East side, at the heart of British fashion, at Old Truman Brewery. The decision is a good one, as the location coincides with Lulu Kennedy’s studio, so she and her team can keep a closer eye on the talented fashion aspirants to a new designer status.
Current womenswear designers are Louise Alsop, Helen Laurence and Ashley Williams while the just presented new SS 2015 Menswear Collections include those of Edward Crutchley, Marques’Almeida, Shaun Samson, Martine Rose and Alan Crocetti.
Who is Lulu Kennedy
Born in Bristol in 1969, Lulu has been named as one of the most influential people in fashion and is also known as the fairy godmother of fashion. Paradoxically, she says she does not grant any wishes and that it’s the new designers she mentors who make it happen for themselves. Ex-raver and ex-barmaid, she is an expert in event planning and a workaholic, even though, work doesn’t feel like work for her.
During London Fashion Week, her day starts at 5 am only to end late at night and it involves show production, media appointments, parties and social events. She personally makes sure that every designer from Fashion East has everything ready in time and is satisfied with the way the collection in presented.
“I’m having too much fun to really notice the seasons rolling by – its crazy, I have no sense of time passing! Being passionate about the designers and wanting to help them must be what drives me on. I don’t have a plan or any goals, and Fashion East isn’t dictated by a commercial agenda, so I just do what feels right.”(interview for www.fashion156.com)
She was always in love with fashion seen through her party girl eyes and her style was definitely influenced by the 90s. She says that during those years she decided what she wanted to do in life.
She also runs Lulu & Co, a line featuring the designs of those she has nurtured through Fashion East. Lulu is also an editor for Condé Nast’s biannual Love Magazine and in 2012, she received an MBE for services to the fashion industry.