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BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund announces 2021 shortlist

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

18 Feb 2021

The British Fashion Council has announced the shortlisted designers for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund 2021. This year’s shortlist includes Alighieri, Asai, Bethany Williams, Chopova Lowena, Completedworks, E.L.V. Denim, Halpern, Kwaidan Editions, Olubiyi Thomas, Richard Malone and Supriya Lele.

Established in 2008, the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund aims to celebrate “exceptional talent and to empower the designers to play their part in positive growth” through bespoke mentoring and a cash prize of 200,000 pounds. The fund receives support from British Vogue, Burberry, Clearpay and Paul Smith.

For 2021, the fund criteria has been updated to “reflect excellence in design and strong business acumen,” explains the British Fashion Council, and was open to all gender collections and/or accessories and applications from all over the UK. The application process encouraged brands to think strategically about how they are incorporating the three pillars of the Institute of Positive Fashion: environment, people and craftsmanship and community into their brand.

The BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund will help the winner have access to new knowledge and the finance to put towards vital areas of designers’ businesses as well as advise all shortlisted designers on areas such as accountancy, merchandising, business strategy, international markets, retail and e-commerce.

The shortlisted designers will be interviewed by the fund judging committee this coming March with the winner/s announced in May.

The 2021 judging committee is chaired by Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue and European editorial director, Vogue. The committee comprises of experts from across the fashion industry including Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, model Adut Akech, Natalie Kingham, global fashion officer at Matchesfashion.com, Rod Manley, chief marketing officer at Burberry, as well as representatives from British Vogue and the Financial Times.

Bethany Williams, Kwaidan Editions, and Richard Malone among shortlisted BFC Vogue Designer Fashion Fund designers for 2021

Commenting on the fund, Enninful said in a statement: “The BFC Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is an integral initiative that supports emerging talent in the UK fashion industry. Now more than ever, we must continue to champion young designers who bring so much inspiration and diversity to British fashion. Congratulations to all the shortlisted designers who are a true representation of the high calibre of creative talent in the UK.”

Rush added: “Congratulations to all the shortlisted designers. Now more than ever it is essential for our industry to come together and support and nurture new emerging talent. This year’s shortlist demonstrates the incredible breadth of talent we have here in the UK and we are very excited to work with Edward and our new Judging Committee Members and Funders, who are joining Burberry and Paul Smith, who have supported the fund since its inception in 2008.”

The BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is part of the BFC Foundation, which brings all of the British Fashion Council’s charitable initiatives under one umbrella to support the future growth and success of the British fashion industry by focusing on three areas: education, grant-giving and business mentoring and Institute of Positive Fashion.

In 2020 at the onset of the Covid crisis the British Fashion Council pooled all talent support grants to make available more than one million pounds of emergency funding via the BFC Foundation Fashion Fund for the Covid Crisis. This formed survival grants for designer fashion businesses to support those who needed it most during this crisis. Since April 2020, 67 designers have been supported with more than 1.5 million pounds allocated.

Last year’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund cash prize was split across each of the six shortlisted brands for the very first time. These were Alighieri, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, David Koma, Halpern, Métier and Rejina Pyo.

Previous winners of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund include Wales Bonner, Molly Goddard, Mother of Pearl and Palmer//Harding, Sophia Webster, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Nicholas Kirkwood, Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane and Erdem.

Images: courtesy of the British Fashion Council; Main image - Bethany Williams and Richard Malone; Second image - Kwaidan Editions; Third image - Olubiyi Thomas and Asai.