Menswear isn’t a ‘hot topic’ only in London at the moment; it’s becoming an international phenomenon. The New York Times just introduced a men’s style section (the paper itself, however, has admitted that it’s driven by ads); while the city is also making solid plans to introduce a menswear fashion week, catching up with the London Collections: Men. In London itself, the buzz around the testosterone-fueled counterpart of the mostly female-focused industry has been gaining momentum, and increasingly manifests itself in the form of support.

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Photography by Nikolay Biryukov for 1 Granary

Hair and Make Up by Ksenia Galina

Model: Daniela Kocianova

All fashion Christopher Shannon Menswear Pre-fall 2015

Words by Jorinde Croese

It’s common knowledge that media attention is very important for start-up brands, but being the flavour of the month with press isn’t necessarily sustainable. Luckily, ‘support’ has become a popular word that’s now often coined together with ‘young designers’, or ‘recent graduates’. Christopher Shannon was one of them — he graduated from Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion in 2008 —  and was lucky to win the first ever BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund: a prize intended to support an up-and-coming British men’s label.

It’s common knowledge that media attention is very important for start-up brands, but being the flavour of the month with press isn’t necessarily sustainable. Luckily, ‘support’ has become a popular word that’s now often coined together with ‘young designers’, or ‘recent graduates’. Christopher Shannon was one of them — he graduated from Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion in 2008 —  and was lucky to win the first ever BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund: a prize intended to support an up-and-coming British men’s label.

Though the £150.000 prize money is good, it’s the mentoring that’s most beneficial for the designers. “A lot of younger womenswear brands, mostly CSM graduates, have crashed in the past few seasons, because they haven’t had that commerce training. That’s one of the good reasons this fund exists: you’re given the cash, but this whole [mentoring] process has made me think a lot harder about the business side of brand,” Christoper Shannon said about the BFC/GQ prize.

In a similar vein to the LVMH Prize — which is also going into its second year — the given funds don’t dictate the content of the collections; something that can easily be interpreted from Shannon’s recent AW15 collection, where plastic bags became headpieces and political statements such as ‘Thanks 4 nothing’ and ‘Save me’ appeared as the collection’s small catchphrases; shining a light on the poverty and poor state of fashion funding. It shows that the mentor support doesn’t interfere — although slightly informs — the creative side of the brand.

It seems that the fund has allowed Shannon to take the brand smoothly to the next stage to build a successful brand; not only selling menswear, but now also womenswear. It’s a sign of growth, and potentially also that of success. In an interview with GQ, BFC/GQ Menswear Design Fund panellist, Vertu CEO Massimiliano “Max” Pogliani mentions what’s vital for the ‘success’ part: “To stand any chance of success in a global, or even domestic market, young designers must be able to manage the commercial aspect of their business in what is a very competitive environment. As well as a sound foundation of basic business skills – budget planning and management, employment law – to compete on a larger scale, a designer needs to understand his brand, its potential and the route to market.”

It’s enlightening to see this increase in mentorships, especially considering the fact that ‘business skills’ seem to be the key factor to building a sustainable brand. We’re looking forward to new initiatives on the horizon, and cannot wait to see who will win this year’s BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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