First published by The Independent, 23rd September 2014
From 12-16 of September, Somerset House in London becomes a new home to the fashpack, an array of glittering celebs, hopeful designers, models, outlandishly dressed bloggers, photographers, and hordes of fashion students and hard-working interns.
Those permitted through press credentials or other connections are able to stroll through the collections of a variety of different designers, many hopeful that their products will be accepted by the store buyers who frequent London Fashion Week. The clothes, shoes, lingerie, jewellery, handbags and other accessories range from wearable luxe to more experimental designs.However, this world of fashion can often feel like an impenetrable fortress to those hoping to break into the industry. I caught up with designers, interns and bloggers and asked their advice for newcomers and fashion students.Byron, 17, a freelance fashion photographer and blogger at The Wolf Walk says that making contacts and getting in touch with brand owners has been most beneficial for him. He advises students interested in fashion writing and reporting to “look for small brands that are growing fast if you want to make your mark as a blogger”. The importance of making contacts was stressed by many young interns, including Alice, 19, who worked at London Fashion Week last year. By chatting to designers and networking, she was able to secure a spot on the stand of Finlay & Co, makers of iconic gold and hardwood sunglasses.
Lauren, designer of The Unseen, has a background in chemistry. This proves that you don’t need to have a fashion degree to get involved and become a major Fashion Week attraction. She says “don’t be swayed by the opinions of others. Find fresh ideas and stay true to yourself”.
The velvet and silk twill scarves of Rosemary Goodenough are printed with her paintings. She advises students to be persistent and believe in themselves: “You need to ask the right people for advice and take their words on board”.
Lily Kamper’s carved and hand-dyed Perspex and Corian pendants were definitely my personal pick of Fashion Week. Her advice to those hoping to break into fashion is to “ask a lot of questions, of everyone you can, and be generous with the wisdom you receive – share it around with others”.
British designer Zoe Jordan, whose pieces have been worn by Cara and Poppy Delevingne, the singer Foxes, Sienna Miller, Laura Bailey and Charlie XCX, was willing to share some words of wisdom with students. She says that interning for smaller companies can be much more rewarding: “You’ll be given more responsibility, have a more intimate experience of the workings of the brand, and you can become an invaluable part of the company”.
India Mimi, established by Charlotte in 2012, is a luxury handbag brand that boasts beautiful, highly wearable accessories crafted from Italian leather. The focus is on classic, timeless colours and soft edges. Unlike some brands in the Designer’s Showroom, you can imagine yourself wearing her designs immediately. Charlotte says: “the only reason I’ve managed to make it this far is by not thinking about it too much. I just jumped into it, and although there’s always going to be pros and cons to getting into fashion, you just have to follow your instincts”.
AEVHA London, a luxe womenswear accessory brand, was also launched recently, in September 2013. The brand’s Creative Director Alice thinks that “the most important thing is to learn all the skills you can”. She adds that “budget is the biggest restraint for the majority of people looking to make it in the fashion industry, but by doing your own styling, photography, editing, graphic design, pattern cutting etc. you are able to build a brand whilst retaining 100 per cent of your creative vision”. It must be working for Alice Horlick, because she has already been featured by Olivia Palermo as a designer to watch.
The unfriendly fashpack stereotype was certainly not a reality at this year’s London Fashion Week. Everyone I spoke to was eager to be helpful and give advice to those looking to begin their careers in fashion. The creative industries, including art, writing, music and fashion, are notoriously difficult to gain a foothold in. Nevertheless, LFW designers were consistent in their positivity about the influx of new talent represented by current students and new fashion graduates.
Although it might be tough to make those initial steps into the world of high fashion, the designers, interns and bloggers at London Fashion Week prove that not only can it be done, but that it’s definitely worth it.