Saturday, 12 November 2011

the young and the restless

Here is an interview I did with Mr. Stefan Siegel from Not Just a Label.
Sorry, I have to ask: what are you wearing? I imagine a great mash of designers whom we never heard of and can't even pronounce.
Hello, well guessed! It may well be hard to pronounce since we do cover such an international host of designers. Today I am wearing a Podsiadlo urban vest; perfect for the fact that at the moment London cant make up it's mind right now- either it's pouring with rain, or the sun is beaming, so a knit with ventilation seems to be a fair balance!

In fashion that is now so fast and hungry is name dropping a must if you want to be in the know?
I’m sure that it works that way for some people, and fashion certainly did rely on that once upon a time. But, to be honest we feel the fashion industry relies on antiquated systems and strategies, it is slow, it takes itself too seriously and therefore to stay on top you have to challenge the habits, you have to be willing to break the mould and re-invent yourself again and again and I hope that we can continue in this vain.

Who is now the next big thing just seconds from becoming mainstream?
We handpicked 6,000 of the best, pick any one of them! A tip would be our black sheep!

How do you do your talent hunting? And who are you proud to say was your discovery?
Well, we have a talent scouting team that dedicate their time to uncovering talent from around the globe, we cover all the graduate shows as well as scouting online, through blogs and magazines too. Damir Doma, Mary Katrantzou, Patrick Mohr were instrumental discoveries in the beginning for NJAL, but there have been too many to mention since then.

Right now NJAL represents designers from 91 countries – is there any local differences or has fashion became one big global fashion?
Fashion, like so many things is globalised for sure, but you do see very obvious trends emerging out of the specific schools. I think what’s interesting are the individual student interpretations of what their tutors seek.

Are there really so many good young fashion designers?
In an answer, Yes! Individuality has become a statement for luxury. The appetite and demand for alternative and sustainable production is predominant across sectors such as food, hospitality, lifestyle and fashion. Young designers recognise the responsibility in creating sustainable fashion and the importance of being an individual, talented young designers don't follow trends, they create them; so we will never be bored looking at their collections.

Which Slovenian designer is on top of your list?
We actually represent quite a few Slovenian designers. During my last visit I was impressed by Peter Movrin and Natasa Hrupic’s collections. Both will be designers representing Slovenia very well on an international basis.

How do non insiders find out about emerging talents, on Style Bubble?
Yes, Susie Bubble and Diane Pernet are amongst the very influential array of blogs out there uncovering a wealth of talent everyday. Of course NJAL prides itself on having the largest platform for emerging designers, and with new collections uploaded daily, we also give exposure to the best of the best through our front page, Black sheep and editorial sections. It is a good idea to check the site daily because we move like the fashion world does; fast!

What is the biggest breakthrough now for a young designer? Making a collection for Topshop?
Each will take their own path. I think the Internet gives fantastic opportunities and visibility to creative emerging talent. The Internet is by nature democratic; anyone can create a network and start communicating to a large audience, we will always do a feature on our best designers, and I think that exposure in this way can be all that’s necessary for designers to begin to get the praise they deserve and continue creating. Topshop is certainly not a big ambition if a designer wants to stay independent and create a luxury label.

Today it seams young designers get the attention of the press, after all there is a lot of magazines around, but being featured in an editorial is still not a guarantee to get a stockist. Is the biggest struggle today for the designers to get on a shop floor?
Yes unfortunately money makes the world go round, and sometimes making items that sell well (be it wearable or not) is the only way for young designers to have the financial backing required to fund their next collection, which is why we also offer our designers the opportunity to sell through us.

NJAL is doing a collaboration with MANGO that will give one designer an astonishing 300.000 EUR to develop the collection. Sounds great!
Yes, awards are often a necessity to secure some financial stability that can make all the difference. The “El-Botón” Mango Fashion Awards 2011 ranks among the financially most rewarding of these. Mango pays each finalist €18,000 and designers need only provide sketches to enter, which is fantastic.

For the end: how does the future of fashion look like from where you are sitting?
It is definitely time for a change, our concept is more about sharing the risk and making sure the design talents of tomorrow are being compensated. This is vital for the industry. We are convinced that, despite the ongoing financial crises and the implications for the economic climate, brands focusing on “authentic luxury” will continue to grow and prosper, resulting in one of the greatest creative opportunities in decades. We just need to continue on our mission!

Kdaj se bom brcnila v svoje gumenjake in odšla v London? Stefan mi je obljubil mini tour po NJAL, pogrešam A* pa tudi tiste veganske rezance s tartufi.

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