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Jena Theo

This year’s winners of talent prize Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden tell Ana Santi about the support available to emerging UK designers

How important is it to have won talent competition Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden and the £100,000 worth of support and funding that comes with it?

Dimitris Theocharidis It’s very important because it gives us a platform to build on. We’ve also learnt so much from the mentoring we’ve received so far.

Jenny Holmes Yes, Vanity Fair came to talk to us about PR, Gail Sackloff [former merchandise director of US department store Saks Fifth Avenue] told us about international buying, Natalie Massenet [founder of Net-a-Porter] spoke about online, and we learnt about logistics from DHL. We also visited Selfridges’ warehouse in Birmingham. But being able to show at London Fashion Week and being noticed is really important too.

Do emerging designers get enough support from the fashion industry?

JH In my first buying job after graduating in graphic design, my employer sponsored me to do a part-time BA Fashion Studies degree at London College of Fashion (LCF), which is how Dimitris and I met. LCF makes you have a proactive approach and gives you business insight. And the British Fashion Council is really helpful too.

What set you apart from the other Fashion Fringe finalists?

DT The combination of our backgrounds - Greek and British - and skills. Jenny is very good on volume and big shapes, and I’m into fitted shapes and tailoring.

JH Once we’d made the final 10 we were invited for an interview and were asked what we would do with the money if we won. I had a whole budget prepared so I gave it to Anne Pitcher [Selfridges buying director and Fashion Fringe judge] and she was really impressed. We then made it to the final four and had 12 weeks to put together a collection.

What can we expect from your autumn 10 collection and from the label as a whole?

DT The autumn 10 collection is a celebration of the 20th century, taking inspiration from silent movies.

JH We reference the 1930s, 1940s, the Great Depression and the French Resistance, and fuse it with 1980s influences. We’d love our own store but in the meantime we’ll target the big names, such as Selfridges, Dover Street Market and Bloomingdale’s. Bloomingdale’s has invited us to show our Fashion Fringe range in its window and preview our autumn 10 collection.

What advice to do you have for emerging designers? DT Enter Fashion Fringe and focus on your goals.

JH It’s about getting yourself out there. Who you know is as important as how talented you are.

Where is your favourite place to shop? DT Carnaby Street in London. JH Topshop - it’s so diverse.

Who are your favourite designers? Vivienne Westwood, Hussein Chalayan and Comme des Garçons

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