NEWGEN Turns Ten
London is renowned for its hotbed of young fashion talent. But it’s not easy for a new designer to build a successful brand. That’s where NEWGEN comes in. Since 2001, Topshop and the British Fashion Council have worked together on the NEWGEN initiative, which supports the city’s brightest emerging designers. The coveted sponsorship, which, in the past, has been awarded to the likes of Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, and Erdem, provides fledgling labels with financial support, a show or exhibition at fashion week, international exposure via the London Showrooms in Paris and New York, and essential mentoring. “I felt so honored! I told my mom right away!” says three-season NEWGEN recipient Thomas Tait of being awarded sponsorship last year. (A look from his first NEWGEN-sponsored show, for Fall ’11, is at left.) “Having the opportunity to speak with and receive feedback from some of the industry’s top experts has really opened my eyes to the importance of not only designing and presenting strong work but also developing a stable and respectable business,” he adds, noting that the business seminars, as well as access to the NEWGEN panel of industry experts, have been instrumental in his success. Simone Rocha, who was awarded sponsorship for the first time this year, concurs. “The industry expertise from the NEWGEN panel is invaluable. And being part of the London Showrooms in Paris has increased my sales internationally.”
Henry Holland, who won sponsorship from 2008 to 2010, offers, “In many ways, I think NEWGEN sponsorship enabled us to continue showing whilst the label was in its infancy. For all young brands and designers, every penny counts, so the financial support is crucial. And it really helps to have that little extra recognition to spotlight your show.” David Koma, who’s been awarded sponsorship for the fourth season in a row, says the initiative has helped him to grow brand awareness. “At the early stage of my brand’s growth, NEWGEN provided business and mentoring support through the BFC, which is extremely helpful. And for a young designer, a show at London fashion week and the showrooms in Paris are fantastic platforms. Without these opportunities, it’s almost impossible to be introduced to press, buyers, and the public around the world.”
The grateful designers are taking the opportunity of the decade anniversary to give back, too. In celebration, Topshop has commissioned 21 NEWGEN recipients past and present, including Gareth Pugh, Jonathan Saunders, and Michael van der Ham, to design limited-edition T-shirts, available online and in U.K. stores now.