If there's one thing that the British Fashion Council is good at, it's supporting young designers. It's no wonder London has a reputation as the breeding ground for the next generation of great designers because they put time and effort into nurturing young talent. Established six years ago, the Fashion Forward scheme provides designers with the opportunity to show at London Fashion Week as well as take advantage of a team of advisors that includes industry representatives from every sector of fashion.
The 2012 winners, Henry Holland (above left), Mary Katrantzou (above right), Louise Gray, and James Long, will all receive sponsorship for two seasons to show at fashion week and develop their respective brands. While Holland, Katrantzou, and Gray are all worthy, but unsurprising recipients, Long, whose dynamic menswear has been widely noted, is the first menswear designer ever sponsored in this scheme. "Menswear in London will be put in the spotlight this year making now the perfect time to introduce a menswear prize to Fashion Forward," said British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush. "The recipients for this year’s Fashion Forward sponsorship are an exceptionally talented group of designers."
The winners have either passed through the NEWGEN sponsorship program or are at a similar level in their career, and the Fashion Forward prize is a stepping stone that can take a designer from emerging to established in a number of seasons. Former winners include Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, and Marios Schwab and this new group of winners is just as impressive.