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      fashion Steve Salter 16 May 2017

      why we need to support the capital’s creativity more than ever

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, the BFC’s NEWGEN support is vital in helping the capital’s bright young future-proof their businesses. As we follow Pascal Gambarte’s lens in an exclusive shoot, the Class of 2017 talk us through their hopes, fears and dreams.

      why we need to support the capital’s creativity more than ever why we need to support the capital’s creativity more than ever why we need to support the capital’s creativity more than ever

      Britain leads the way when it comes to nurturing and developing young talent, from early education through to helping designers establish their brands on a global scale. How and why? Thanks to initiatives like NEWGEN. Since its inception in 1993, the sponsorship and support scheme has continually evolved and continued to excite season after season, year after year. From Alexander McQueen to Simone Rocha, Christopher Kane to Christopher Shannon and J.W.Anderson to Marques'Almeida, NEWGEN has acted as a promotional launch pad for London's designers to go take on the world. After revealing its new look and announcing the fabulous fifteen that make up the Class of 2017, we caught up with NEWGEN's new gen to discuss what more can be done to ensure that creativity continues to thrive in the capital. 

      Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family?
      An absolute honour. Some of the most important designers in the industry have been part of the project, and the fact I can counted among them brings with it a huge sense of validation.

      What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      It means growing up that little bit more...! Fashion East was such a fantastic incubator and the support from Lulu and Tash really got me on my feet -- now it's about walking forward (at a steady pace!) to realise a dynamic and pragmatic business.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Of course, it's extremely hard to build a business alone -- you need support, financially, emotionally, and beyond with your business. It's important to feel like you are part of a unit that supports not only your label but the integrity of British fashion.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      By continuing initiatives such as NEWGEN, having validation and support is one of the most important things in order to make creativity thrive!

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      The opportunity to share your work directly to the people who want to see it. There's a buzz and an appetite in London right now that's quite visceral; not just within the fashion industry.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      Future collaborations, and building a product range which is diverse and colourful.


      Molly Goddard

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      It's my last season with NEWGEN's support so I'm feeling sad to be leaving the new family so soon! I've had support from NEWGEN since my second collection which gave me the platform to show on schedule during London fashion week which was always my dream. Doing so alongside other designers in the same position made it all feel a bit less terrifying.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      I think besides Brexit and a shit government, I am very lucky to be in London as there are lots of great initiatives for creative people which many other cities don't have. I think NEWGEN is great because it takes you seriously and throws you in at the deep end (albeit in a motherly way). Support like Newgen is vital and I have always felt very lucky to be part of it.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      Making London an affordable place to live and work would be the key to maintaining creativity.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      I don't think I could work anywhere else on my own collections, I find London a constant source of inspiration, even in teaching me what I don't like. I like being surrounded by childhood friends, family, museums and markets and different areas.

      What is the biggest difficulty or obstacle that you're fighting to overcome?
      At the moment finding studio space in London feels almost impossible with our budget, spaces are disappearing monthly.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      Embracing sexy.


      Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty, COTTWEILER

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family?
      It's great to be able to see the men's and women's designers all together. The new look NEWGEN initiative will surely provide more support and security for all the designers involved.

      What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      NEWGEN has been a huge factor in the growth of our business and the support that is offered in areas that can be hard for young designers to manage is invaluable.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Creativity always thrives in difficult times and we feel that initiatives like NEWGEN are so important to make our goals achievable

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      Our friends around us.

      What is the biggest difficulty or obstacle that you're fighting to overcome?
      Our biggest obstacles are what pushes us to do better and keep learning. We are always trying to do better.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      We are excited about bringing COTTWEILER to a more global audience and growing into an established brand.

      Richard Malone

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family?
      It's really exciting. NEWGEN is the all encompassing support system you need when you're a young designer, it provides excellent advice ranging from business and mentoring to everything else.

      What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      I guess it's quite serious and prestigious in terms of its reputation, but when you're part of the program it really feels very intimate. For me, it's like a stamp of approval and great recognition. Being part of a group of designers who all face the same issues is encouraging, everyone is quite close and we are all willing to support each other and help out. It makes you feel like you're part of a family.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Definitely, these initiatives are critical. London has a real reputation as this creative city that births so many movements, artists and designers. London means freedom and diversity, and I really feel like there's a sense of these values slipping away pretty rapidly. It can be quite depressing but we have to just come together and fight for these things we believe in, it's brilliant to see all of these young people come together under NEWGEN and try and solve shit, because so much goes on behind the scenes that makes you realise just how important these initiatives are.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      I strongly believe that it starts with education. All of these horrific cuts mean that our creative education is homogenised. People speak about it like it's about to happen but it literally happened the second the fees went up. We were the last year of the old fees who came from the original Saint Martin's building in Charing Cross. If I'd arrived one year later I couldn't have studied. I don't think a lot of people realise how much money this is to working class families, because we're in an industry where so few people come these backgrounds. The difference in the students now is incredible, it feels so much less diverse and that absolutely terrifies me.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      The support networks and the conversations we're having now feel very important and it definitely feels like we're gaining momentum in the changes we're fighting for.

      What is the biggest difficulty/obstacle that you're fighting to overcome?
      Continuing to work and make what you believe in. I think it's the most important.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      That it's a long one!

      Liam Hodges

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      NEWGEN is really important for us, its given us so many opportunities to grow and develop, test different models and sound off new ideas, it gives us the time and space to grow as a business. Its great to be surrounded by such a high grade of other brands!

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Yeah! The creative industry should be accessible to all not just the wealthy, NEWGEN definitely helps with that. It opens up opportunities outside of fashions elitism.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      Vote Corbyn, fuck Theresa and all the other career politician chiefs -- that would be a good start.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017? What is biggest difficulty/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      I honestly feel like the best and worst things about London for me are the same, it's the speed, pressure and momentum of the city, it's tough, but that's what feeds me, I don't know if I'd be as driven working somewhere else...

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      This season is exciting because it's always a bit like a new chapter, even more so as we see the industry and society is changing/has changed so much, there are still a lot of unknowns ahead! It's great to be working with the support of the BFC and being told we can explore new options and more than ever it feels like there are so many ways to move forwards.

      Marta Jakubowski

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      I'm very grateful to be part of NEWGEN. It helps and supports me to develop as a designer and a brand. It's incredible to be among so many talented designers and get advice from experienced industry figures.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      Space is still a major issue for a lot of us. It's hard to find affordable workspaces.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      It's a great opportunity to showcase during London Fashion Week and have a community that is supportive and interested.

      What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      It's hard to sum them up. It seems there is a new difficulty everyday. I guess it's part of the learning process, but you also learn there is always a solution somewhere.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      I'm doing my first show.

      Nicholas Daley

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      I am honoured to be part of NEWGEN program which has nurtured and supported so many great designers both past and present. I feel there is a great diversity in the range of designers which have been selected as part of the NEWGEN program this year which I feel shows the strength of British fashion at the moment. We all bring our own stories and creative visions, and still embody what it means to be a young creative in London. After building a strong following in Japan this will be my debut at LFWM under NEWGEN and I am very excited to be showcasing my collection on home soil.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Programs like NEWGEN are key to continuing to support and offer opportunities for young creative designers. I really hope there are no further funding cuts in the creative arts as there have been continuous cuts under the current government. Without the arts there would be no culture or identity, and it helps reflect how we see our society in 2017. As a creative it is our responsibility of story telling about what is influencing us today, NEWGEN and other initiatives are in effect our vehicles to project our creative ideas. It would be far more difficult for creatives to continually produce and showcase their collections without the likes of NEWGEN and this is why we must continue to champion them.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      I believe one of the most Important factors would be more affordable studio spaces and facilities for creatives. All across London many warehouse areas are now being knocked down or converted into luxury flats. This means it is harder for young creatives to even start their brands due to not being able to cover the basic rental costs. I know Sadiq Khan has made pledges for supporting more arts and creatives spaces in London which I hope he can continue to support.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      The best thing about being a creative in London is the abundance of resources we have around us. We have well-respected creative intuitions and museums which attract such a wide range of individuals from all around the world. There is also a strong creative community feeling across a variety of disciplines which I think shows why London is always a destination city for artist and designers to collaborate. I feel London has always been a focal point for change, innovation and expression throughout history we have had so many subcultures and movements which have then filtered out through out around the world.

      What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      For me, it's all about sustainable growth and each season slowly building more infrastructure around my brand. This is one of the reasons why I decided to apply for NEWGEN this season as I felt comfortable and ready to seek further opportunities and to see what further support I could gain to maximise the potential of my brand. I do feel the pace and speed of the industry is the reason why so many new brands fail. I still have to remind myself that I have already presented, produced and promoted six collections since BEAMS Japan bought my Central Saint Martins graduate collection for spring/summer 15. 

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      One of the most exciting things for me is the presentation itself as it is something which I have yet to do. I am looking forward to be able to create my own world for two hours which hopefully will convey my overall vision and aesthetic to the audience, intertwined with imagery of the collection. I am looking forward to seeing how people will react and feel at the presentation as I can think about connecting with people not just through clothing but all the other senses and hopefully leave a deeper understanding of what I am trying to express. It is also great that NEWGEN system has been updated meaning I will have another season of being able to present my work to wider public which I am looking forward to it.

      Michael Halpern, Halpern

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      To be a part of the NEWGEN family is incredibly exciting. The designers that have come forward from it, and hearing how a platform like NEWGEN has supported them in structuring their growth is something that most young brands in London would love to have guidance on. Not only is it amazing to have the support of the BFC for an initiative like this, but getting to know the other designers is a great thing to do have as well.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Of course, I think initiatives like this are more important than ever because without something like NEWGEN, a lot of us would not be able to have our brands in the first place; not only from a fiscal standpoint, but NEWGEN in part validates us as an industry to be reckoned with. Also, in a time where there are a lot of questions about shipping, VAT, taxes, export documents; having NEWGEN to bounce ideas and questions off of is incredibly helpful because we just don't know what is going on when rules and regulations are so quickly changing.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      More funding for schools and art education before someone gets into Uni, so they can at least experiment with other forms of art and design before committing to exploring it on a university level.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      The constant diversity that surrounds you; something you don't necessarily get in most places in the world.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      This will be my second season showing in London, so quite frankly everything is exciting for me. My brand has grown a bit quicker than I thought it would, so everyday brings new and wild challenges- it is quite a steep learning curve! I am not sure I can pick only one or two things that excite me about the future, but just being able to create exactly what I want is a complete dream come true. 

      Phoebe English

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      To me, NEWGEN means acceptance, it feels very special to be involved with such an important initiative.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      NEWGEN offers a unique type of support that can't be found anywhere else in the world, championing and celebrating emerging fashion in a city which thrives off creatively and the individual. At times like this, it is extremely precious. NewGen offers a type of togetherness which definitely strengthens all its members as creatives.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      Championing diversity, difference and non-conformity is the best way to support creativity, it is something that fashion in London does best and giving it space to keep doing this is really important.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017? What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      The creative heritage we work with in this city is, freedom of expression, so that for me is the best part. Learning to run a small business has many challenges and obstacles which are things I am continuing to learn about and to manage.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      In London fashion, we are able to literally see the voices of youth, it will be really interesting to see what they have to say in the coming seasons.

      Kiko Kostadinov

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      I'm really grateful for having the continued opportunities that the BFC and NEWGEN have been proving me. NEWGEN its essential part of my development not only on creative part but also as business.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      The support should not be only on the creative side, there needs to be more ways of helping young designers with how to sustain their young businesses which will allow them to remain creative.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017? What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      London has fantastic platform for forward ideas with endless cultural resources. Starting company and creating the operational structure is the hardest, making sure that the foundation can be stable enough that allows you to project uncompromised ideas.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      Expanding the collection with newer cuts and fabrics. Starting without carry-over shapes is challenging. Seeing the collection coming together in last two weeks is when everything starts making sense and it's the most exciting and beautiful part of the process.

      Paula Knorr

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family?
      I am really excited to be a part of it. To receive mentoring and support over a whole year allows us designers to think even bigger and push our ideas more confidently.

      What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      To be connected with people that help, understand and empower you.Over the last year NEWGEN not only gave me financial support, but also the confidence and strength to fully commit to establishing my brand.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      Yes, definitely. A lot of us NEWGEN designers came from other countries to London to study here and then stayed and founded their label. And if you look at the NEWGEN alumni, you can see how these labels can grow into top-selling companies. So it is more important now than ever before, that NEWGEN showcases how necessary it is that talent from all over the world is able to come to London to get support and blossom here.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      More initiatives that provide free or cheaper spaces to young creatives. Not being able to fund a studio and not having the opportunity to grow is a big problem in London.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      To be surrounded by so many like minded people and be able to connect and form partnerships with other creatives quickly.

      What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      To learn all the new skills and knowledge you suddenly have to have when founding your own label. Your are not only a designer you also have to be the sales manager, the bookkeeper and many more.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      I love how every collection and project forms the identity of my brand and I am extremely excited to push and strengthen this vision for spring/summer 18.

      Samuel Ross, A COLD WALL*

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family?
      It feels good. Up to this point, I've been working independently, so to have the support of both the BFC and NEWGEN has already been greatly beneficial. I say this sat in may studio at 03:07am, if anything it's made me hungrier to really, pursue and execute the narrative ACW* further

      What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      It means both awareness and collaboration. It means belief in both artists & designers.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      I think that has to be left down to spontaneity and the unpredictable nature of creativity.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      Access to like minds and forward thinkers. Its melting pot culture. Environments that really leave an imprint, and by doing so serve as great stimulants

      What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      An internalised thought process and comfort in the work we produce. It's sometimes a challenge to make sure what I know doesn't become too frequent in my work. I prefer for my exception of ideas to roam on the edge of abstract and understanding, anything too safe is always a concern.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      The ability to now present ideas as intended, on the RUNWAY, and really showing what i've learned up until this point.

      Sadie Williams

      How does it feel to be part of the new look NEWGEN family? What does NEWGEN mean to you?
      Feels fab! A real achievement to be part of this group. It means a means to do what I do; its a real honour and privilege.

      After a year of Brexit, deepened austerity and slashed funding, would you say initiatives like NEWGEN are more important now than ever before?
      For certain! I 100% would not exist as a label if it wasn't for being NEWGEN sponsorship from the beginning. I don't think I would have been able to navigate running my own label without the support and structure this gives you. The insight and knowledge that come with them are invaluable and allow young designers to keep progressing, both as designers and businesses.

      What more can be done to ensure creativity thrives in the capital?
      I do think creativity will always thrive in one way or another, but it's getting harder to make a living out of it. Capping rents for studios could help; it's gone a bit crazy in the last few years. And I do think, especially now that there are such huge cuts to the arts, that more big businesses/brands should really look to champion and affiliate themselves with schemes that support the arts. If the programme is run properly, it's a win-win for everyone.

      What's the best thing about being a creative in London in 2017?
      The best thing is how supportive friends and fellow designers are of each other. There's sooooo much to learn after graduating, especially business-wise, and we all learn as we go along and from each other. Plus I love London, it's home and yet it's so vast, diverse and you can never really get bored here.

      What are the biggest difficulties/obstacles that you're fighting to overcome?
      The biggest difficulty is the rising rent costs, and costs in general. It's hard to make special things that involve a lot of time and craft and make to them commercially viable at the same time, so there is often this balancing act.

      Finally, what excites you most about this season and beyond?
      I'm excited to try new things out and continue experimenting with textiles. And I love collaborating with people, I find it really exciting when it becomes so much bigger than me. When I can team up and get creative with others, working on all the different bits (like set design, lookbooks, animations etc) other than just the collection.

      Credits

      Text Steve Salter
      Photography Pascal Gambarte
      Art Direction Barbara

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      Topics:fashion, fashion interviews, newgen, bfc, charles jeffrey, charles jeffrey loverboy, molly goddard, liam hodges, marta jakubowski, nicholas daley, phoebe english, kiko kostadinov, paula knorr, samuel ross, a-cold-wall*, sadie williams, london, london creatives

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