Representing the creative future

Meet this year’s Alpha 1 Granary Mentorship Prize winners

1 Granary partners with ALPHA for the second year in a row to champion emerging fashion designers in the Nordics

Good things often come in pairs. This year sees the return of the ALPHA 1 Granary mentorship prize, featuring guidance from 1 Granary’s founder and editor-in-chief, Olya Kuryshchuk. The partnership aims to ensure the progression of young talent within the fashion industry. This year’s award is bestowed upon two recipients, Andreas Hermann Bloch and Tilde Herold. Ane Lynge-Jorlén, director of ALPHA, speaks on the initiative: “Both 1 Granary and ALPHA want to empower the next generation of creative fashion talent.” The mentorship prize is the materialization of this concern, offering “support to designers who can contribute to a healthier fashion industry and help them grow, learn, and make the right choices to build sustainable businesses.”

ALPHA’s collaboration with 1 Granary is just one of many support initiatives taken on by the organization. At the time of its inception, in 2005, the association was the first talent scheme in the Nordics. Through different schemes, mentorships, and patronages, ALPHA aims to, as Lynge-Jorlén puts it, “empower recent fashion graduates and emerging fashion designers from the Nordics and help them gain a footing in the early stages of their careers.”

The organization’s ambition is to prepare designers for the harsh reality their schools don’t teach them about. “Most designers who launch their labels start by thinking they are going to be so creative, but the reality is they spend most of the time on other tasks than designing,” says Lynge-Jorlén. These often involve financial readability, business knowledge, and even a strong emotional bandwidth.

For ALPHA, young designers don’t just represent the future of fashion, but the hope for a more sustainable industry. The organization’s director enthusiastically reinforces that above all, it’s necessary to teach how to “consolidate a sustainable business.” That’s where Kuryshchuk’s input comes in. “For an emerging designer to have Olya’s sharp eagle-eyes and advice, and being exposed to recruiters, can really empower you to make the right choices and learn essential new skills,” says Lynge-Jorlén.

This season, 1 Granary’s editor-in-chief chose not one, but two recipients. Speaking on the decision, Kuryshchuk states that Andreas and Tilde are “designers with a cerebral approach to fashion, and eager to explore more innovative pathways in the industry.” Elaborating, “They demonstrate a key characteristic in modern design: the ability to merge the conceptual stage with shapes, textiles, colours, functionality, and sustainable materials.”

Andreas Hermann Bloch produced a collection that delves deep into an answer to the question: how do we build identity through what we wear? Expanding on notions of sustainability, Bloch took particular interest in how our clothes get shaped by years of use. “The collection is solely based on three unique individuals,” says the young designer. “By translating long conversations into shape, through alternative pattern drafting, tactility, print and the surface of the textiles, the collection became a timestamp of who they were.” This unique approach manifests identity in peculiar, yet impressive techniques. A long black coat, inspired by one of the three individuals and his cats, strategically features mohair yarn to emulate the pets’ shedding.

To Tilde Herold, the winner of not only the mentorship prize but also the Alpha exhibition prize, the inspiration surpassed the individual to analyse cultural power structures. Seeking to claim control, the young designer sought to “take back control of the narrative of the female body, as a designer.” She explains, “My collection is inspired by the idea of creating ‘power dressing’ whose starting point isn’t male.” By deconstructing patriarchal ideals, Herold found an unexpected muse: the plastic bag. “The collection is bold, sexy and dramatic, but, most importantly, it takes up space unapologetically.”

For her, winning the mentorship prize was a dream come true. “Being acknowledged for your ideas and final designs by a jury of talented people is undeniably a euphoric feeling.” But it’s not euphoria that motivated her to apply, the young designer describes the industry as a confusing path to walk alone. “Transitioning from being a student to navigating the industry independently has left me with questions and uncertainties and having a mentor in this time seems invaluable.” Andreas Hermann Bloch’s ambitions are slightly different. “I am excited to hear Olya’s opinion on future work and how the collection is positioned in terms of relevancy in the industry.”

Both designers agree that being able to show at Copenhagen Fashion Week is incredibly satisfying. “The culmination of hard work results in a moment that is indescribable and possibly addictive,” states Herold. Bloch describes it as cathartic: “This is my hometown and where this collection came to life, so it was really special.” In recent years, the Nordic Fashion Week has become a springboard for young talent. With a strong emphasis on sustainability, it encapsulates what Ane Lynge-Jorlén describes as a “talent momentum in the Nordics.” By supporting talent with mentorships, bursaries, show production, and bursaries, Copenhagen Fashion Week is magnetic for young designers. The ALPHA and 1 Granary mentorship prize is just the tip of the Nordic iceberg.