Established British designers are urging emerging labels to seek different routes to market and exploit the recession by bringing new ideas and concepts to the UK fashion industry.
Speaking at the Drapers WGSN Fashion Summit yesterday, designers Betty Jackson, Lulu Guinness and Anne Tyrell said young designers should make the most of licensing opportunities, high street collaborations and product extensions.
“It’s important to do other things, like licensing deals and collaborations - look at Matthew Williamson and H&M, for example,” said Tyrell. “This doesn’t damage the brand, it gives them the financing to grow their business. And think about sunglasses and perfume - areas that you can add to your label.”
Jackson said the designer/high street collaboration is a “blueprint” to be followed by others. “Creativity is the key, otherwise nothing else happens, so it’s something to be celebrated here in the UK. But these days, you’re expected to be all things to all men - you also have to sell it, to be a PR, to do a spreadsheet.”
Tyrell says that if a designer lacks the necessary business acumen, then he or she should find support, pointing again to Matthew Williamson and his relationship with business partner Joseph Velosa, the brand’s chief executive.
Guinness added that the recession should be giving new designers the opportunity to innovate. “Buyers are looking for the next big thing,” she said. “We need new ideas. Yes, designers need staying power; you have to be open to change. With our colleges, design students have never had it so good.”