Each year, the British Fashion Council (BFC) looks to celebrate emerging talent through its BFC NewGen programme, which for 2023 now has five new participants set to receive support through the initiative.
Those taking part are provided with access to financial grants, showcasing opportunities and individual mentoring sessions to assist them as they develop their businesses. Many notable designers have been a part of the programme since its launch in 1993, including the likes of Alexander McQueen, Bianca Saunders, Richard Quinn, Grace Wales Bonner and Kim Jones.
FashionUnited has highlighted the five new designers that have been added to the BFC NewGen roster for this year.
LVMH Prize finalist Aaron Esh centres his work around redefining the meaning of menswear, challenging the preconceptions of masculinity in collections that also look to mirror his East London background. Like many notable menswear designers before him, Esh graduated from Central Saint Martins, a school he attended after he won the Alexander McQueen scholarship. Since graduating, his work has been hotly publicised and is also available to shop in various retail outlets, including Ssense.
Esh’s craftsmanship is evident in the technicality of each garment, for which he is known for being meticulous in fittings, often carrying out the process on the same model multiple times before finalising the shape. His most recent line consisted of deconstructed tailored suits, bubble-mini skirts layered with trousers and rejuvenated outerwear styles.
Menswear designer Luck Derrick was the perfect candidate for the BFC’s programme, given that through his brand – Derrick – he aims to offer a new perspective on British design. He graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2021 after training under Saville Row’s Morton & Sons during an internship. He went on to form his studio in East London, where he established his namesake brand to be “the canon of masculine chic”.
The designer later took part in London Fashion Week’s Discovery Lab, where he further cemented his brand’s identity, bringing a tongue-in-cheek take to technical and sporty pieces. Derrick’s following collections have continued to bolster this approach to design, incorporating humour with formalwear, while there is also a particular emphasis centred around craftsmanship and traditional tailoring for the new, young consumer.
Central Saint Martins graduate Kazna Asker’s eponymous brand offers up a platform for her to use fashion as a base for political activism. At her final MA show during London Fashion Week 2022, she became the first designer to grace the school’s stage with a Hijabi collection, ultimately gaining her prominent recognition within the BFC and among leading fashion publications. Through the line, Asker set herself the task of representing both her home country of Yemen, as well as her local community in Sheffield, where she was raised and has contributed to a series of community projects.
Her designs reflect this task, with clothing that merges sportswear and traditional Middle Eastern silhouettes, such as the jilbab and thobe, each utilising waterproof fabrics and practical detailings. Featuring both menswear and womenswear, her debut collection also incorporated cargo pants and tracksuits, intertwined with traditional fabrics. While being selected for the BFC’s NewGen programme, this recognition is not the first Asker has received. In 2022, she was awarded the Debut Talent Prize in the Fashion Trust Arabia awards, where she was celebrated for her community collaboration.
The Winter House
Genderless fine jewellery brand The Winter House draws its inspiration from London, the environment of which it considers a fundamental part of its aesthetic. This is present in the abrasive, sculptural and surreal pieces of jewellery it creates, much of which references that of barbed wires, weedy pavements and natural forms that are integral to the city scape. Founder Liam Winter describes his work process stating: “When creating a piece of jewellery who’s entire purpose is to exist for our aesthetic enjoyment, I like to imagine how it would defend itself from our gaze… Sort of how a rose defends itself with thorns.”
In its first year of operation, The Winter House already counted a number of notable celebrities and artists among its fans, including Steve Lacy, Lourdes Leon, Lacey Foux and Kojey Radical. The brand also presented its first collection at the Tranoï Showroom during Paris Fashion Week in January 2023, while its next collection is currently in the works.
Next to the title of fashion and textile designer, Tolu Coker is also an illustrator and multi-disciplinary artist. The British-Nigerian launched her namesake brand in 2018 after graduating from Central Saint Martins, and has since used her platform to highlight the politics of identity, social climates and societal issues. The London-based designer made her fashion week debut for the autumn/winter 2019 season with her first collection ‘Juvenile Consciousness’, exhibited during London Fashion Week after she won the Fashion Scout Merit Award. Her designs, both menswear and womenswear, bring together streetwear and couture, and are often constructed using old denim and textile waste turned into new materials.
Other collections have seen her use her place in fashion for good, as evidenced by her 2020 line where she teamed up with ‘Choose Love’ charity to create a t-shirt honouring communities she connected with during her time spent in Rwanda. Proceeds of the t-shirts were all donated to the charity. Coker and her work have been recognised in multiple honours, including Drapers 30 Under 30 2021 list and at the International Talent Support (ITS) 2018 ceremony, where she took home The Diesel Award, The Vogue Talents Award and The ITS Time for Coffee Award.