BFC’s Next Gen Nominees Excludes Wearable Fashion

Muchaneta Kapfunde | @ FashNerdEditor

Today the BFC unveiled the shortlist of designers being considered for their BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. The chosen five labels will be on display at Harrods famous windows for the next 2 weeks.

2016 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund shortlist: Emilia Wickstead | Mother of Pearl | Osman | Prism | Sophia Webster (Image Credit: Shaun James Cox, British Fashion Council)

Launched by BFC Chairman Harold Tillman in September 2008 as part of the BFC’s 25th anniversary celebrations, one designer will receive £200,000 prize, 12 months of bespoke support and high level mentoring and the necessary infrastructure to take them to the next stage.

Nominee Sophia Webster
Nominee Sophia Webster

Selected by the Fund Judging Committee, that includes Alexandra Shulman OBE, Editor of British Vogue, and Caroline Rush CBE, British Fashion Council, the nominees are womenswear designer Emilia Wickstead, sports luxe label Mother of Pearl, unique architectural brand Osman, minimal aesthetic resort wear label Prism and luxury shoe brand Sophia Webster. I must admit after I read the list, I wasn’t too surprised that the BFC’s selected nominees excluded wearable and sustainable fashion designers.

Fashion technology should not be feared. It should instead be seen as a new world capable of running alongside the old. Fashion tech is more than just buzzing jackets and dresses that light up, it represents consumer friendly designs that are either products consisting of technology or products created using technology, like 3D printing.

Alexandra Shulman OBE, Editor of British Vogue and Chair of the Fund Committee
Alexandra Shulman OBE, Editor of British Vogue and Chair of the Fund Committee | Photo Credit:

Although I wish the nominees all the best, I am truly sad to see that the list is yet to include innovative designers from the Fashion Technology and Sustainable Fashion sphere. The BFC needs to understand that fashion tech and sustainability is not a passing trend like normcore, it is instead where the future of fashion is headed.

On the announcement, Alexandra Shulman described the selected designers as “…an inspiring shortlist because of its diversity” . On hearing this I wanted to shout out “Ms Schulman on this I must disagree with you”. Diversity is all about exploring the rich dimensions of differences and in this case it would be exploring the rich dimensions of the fashion industry, which surely should include all things fashion tech and sustainable!

Caroline Rush With Anna Wintour, Julia Carey and Natalie-Massenet
Caroline Rush With Anna Wintour, Julia Carey and Natalie-Massenet

With all the hype and excitement that surrounded the Fashion Tech industry in 2015, the BFC and Vogue could have taken a moment to consider this new breed of designers who are proving to be unafraid to think outside the box.  The current nominees are not a “great representation of the spread of British fashion designers” [Alexandra Shulman] they are instead the usual suspects, which leaves us to question, do we have to beg to be surprised with a list that compliments the current British fashion forward designers? Maybe my views on what I consider a remarkable take on fashion differs from those at the very top.

The final nail in the coffin for me was Caroline Rush stating “These designers all have the potential to become Britain’s next generation of global fashion brands.” The words ‘next generation’ gave me the sudden urge to want to name drop Kate Unsworth, Lauren Bowker, Rainbow Winters, and Studio XO for consideration in 2017 selection process. Please find a moment to show these British designers some love, after all they are all worthy contenders who brag enviable capabilities that include great strength, vision and consumer attraction. I do not expect a fashion tech or sustainable fashion designer to win (yet) but it sure would be nice to see them receive the kind of support that will help them thrive within the UK and beyond.

Kate Unsworth Founder of Vinaya
Kate Unsworth Founder of Vinaya

With previous winners of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund including Christopher Kane, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood and Peter Pilotto, we can only hope that the powers-that-be will sooner rather than later expand their fashion vision to include all elements of this creative industry, because if not now, then when?

The winner of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund will be announced Tuesday 22nd March 2016.

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