Why Do The British Fashion Awards Matter?

Hypebeast speaks with Saul Nash, Bianca Saunders, Foday Dumbuya, and Nicholas Daley about the British Fashion Council’s inaugural New Establishment Menswear Category.

Fashion 
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The annual Fashion Awards are almost here, destined to be a grandiose occasion not to be missed. Every year, the British Fashion Council honors established designers who have significantly contributed to the UK fashion scene. London’s Royal Albert Hall is a monumental playground for creatives wishing to take home the prize, outlining their place in modern British history. The 2023 Fashion Awards are scheduled for December 4, bringing together the industry’s finest talents.

The nominees were announced earlier this year, including a brand new category that honors emerging designers who have impacted their community in more ways than one. While S.S. DALEY, Grace Wales Bonner, and Burberry scored big in 2022, contenders deliver stand-out creativity this year. Our usual British Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year candidates continue to stand strong, while new categories — New Establishment Menswear and Womenswear — steal the show with a slew of energetic aptitude.

The former “recognizes a menswear designer who has created a new movement in British fashion and has had a sustained impact on the industry globally. Designers are chosen based on the showcasing of their collections, their business growth, and the international headlines driven by their work,” states the BFC. The menswear award is packed with revolutionary talent and the nominees include Saul Nash, Bianca Saunders, Foday Dumbuya, Nicholas Daley, and Clint419 of Corteiz. The latter is yet to acknowledge his nomination as the brand’s first major recognition for its boundary-breaking branding techniques. Everyone is eager to see what transpires come December 4, should he scoop the award in its inaugural year.

Ahead of the ceremony, Hypebeast speaks with Saul Nash, Bianca Saunders, Foday Dumbuya, and Nicholas Daley on their contributions to British fashion and what the award means to them.

HYPEBEAST: What impact have you personally made on the British fashion industry?

Saul Nash: I am not usually one to rant about myself, and love what designers of my generation have contributed to the fashion industry. I think I have made my own impact by bringing movement and functionality to the forefront of my shows and the world in which I communicate my work. This has also extended to the way that clothing has been used as a tool to highlight my community and tell their stories. Material and cutting innovation have also been at the center of my work from the start, merging the worlds of performancewear and luxury menswear.

Bianca Saunders: I think I have made an impact by infusing a narrative of myself personally and my culture to create a brand that is based on inclusivity and diversity within the men’s luxury fashion sector. I do this by creating a balance, within the Bianca Saunders brand, of masculinity with the appeal of it being genderless. This really creates an open door of opportunity to design menswear for the wearer, not focused on gender.

Foday Dumbuya: I think I have made a profound impact on the British fashion industry by bringing together the vibrant storytelling of West African culture and the rich heritage of British culture. Through my unique approach, I have blurred the boundaries between cultures, highlighting the intersection of art, fashion, and identity. This approach has sparked conversations about cultural exchange and appreciation. This has helped to break down barriers and foster a more inclusive and diverse fashion industry.

Nicholas Daley: The impact my brand has made within British fashion is across the three main aspects of the brand’s ethos: community, craftsmanship, and culture. I have collaborated with a community of artists spanning music, art, and design every season. Exploring the craftsmanship and working with artisanal craftspeople and mills to incorporate within my collections. Through my runway shows and campaigns, I showcase the richness of the cultural heritage of my Jamaican and Scottish ancestry. This allows me to explore identity and multiculturalism by telling authentic stories every season.

“Material and cutting innovation have also been at the center of my work from the start, merging the worlds of performancewear and luxury menswear.”

When you first received the nomination for the 2023 Fashion Awards, what was your initial reaction, and how did you feel about it?

SN: I was quite astonished. My work is a big part of my life, and I do it because I am extremely passionate about it. It always surprises me when it resonates with others. It had to sink in, and then I realized how over the moon I was. From attending The Fashion Awards at the beginning of my career until now, I feel that being nominated is a huge achievement.

BS: I was extremely grateful to receive this nomination and to be recognized by the BFC shows what an amazing journey we have had. From my Fall/Winter 2023 show in Paris to the Met Gala dressing Usher, we have had such an exciting year. It’s very rewarding for the team, too, as it represents the progression of the brand. Through their hard work for the brand, this nomination shows that we are moving towards a shared goal of being an exciting and successful menswear label.

FD: When I first received the nomination for the 2023 Fashion Awards, I was filled with a mix of emotions. Excitement, astonishment, and gratitude all rushed through me simultaneously. It was an incredibly humbling and proud moment for not just myself but for the entire LABRUM team. It served as a reminder that we have created something special and meaningful, resonating with our audience and the fashion community. The nomination also serves as a reminder of the progress and growth that LABRUM London has achieved, but it also motivates me to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence. It’s a testament to the team’s collective efforts and the support of our loyal customers and followers. Overall, I am incredibly grateful for this recognition and excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.

ND: It is my first time being nominated for the BFC Fashion Awards this year, and I am truly honored to be part of this important moment for the recognition of my brand’s growth and contribution to British fashion.

What would winning the award mean to you, and how would it push you to advance in your career?

SN: Winning the award would be a personal achievement for me and a benchmark for all the people who have constantly stuck with me on this journey and continue to show their support. I think that it would also put my work in front of a wider audience and create new connections with people who may resonate with it.

BS: First and foremost, we are known as a menswear brand, and I think that it shows how strong the brand is and the relevance of what it is doing for the luxury menswear sector. I think it is something that reflects my team and I’s hard work and what we are working towards. Receiving that recognition would be an honor. It is also an absolute honor to be alongside my fellow nominees in the category and see their achievements.

FD: Winning the award would serve as a testament to the power and impact of telling the West African and British story through textiles. It would affirm our mission of showcasing the beauty and richness of these cultures and the intersection between them. Winning would be an absolute dream come true for me and the entire team at LABRUM London. This recognition would not only bring pride to myself and the team but also inspire us to continue making a positive impact within the fashion industry and our society as a whole.

ND: After winning the BFCxGQ Menswear award last year, it would be great to continue this success of awards for my brand’s continued development and recognition within the fashion industry.

“Excitement, astonishment, and gratitude all rushed through me simultaneously.”

How has the British Fashion Council personally pushed you to embrace yourself as a designer?

SN: I think that having a support system is always reassuring. The BFC’s support through NEWGEN has enabled me to explore different ways of communicating my work, which in turn has aided in helping me to solidify my voice as a creative.

BS: From the beginning, the BFC chose me as one to watch. They have always supported my exploration of male identity and masculinity. I think it was a conversation that, from a woman’s perspective, was something new at the time. This is something that motivates us as a brand. Moving forward, I want my perspective as a female designer to be less of a novelty and more of a normality. Inspiring the next generation to have different people designing for the opposite gender.

FD: By providing a platform for designers like myself to showcase our work, the BFC has allowed me to proudly incorporate and highlight my rich African culture into my designs. This encouragement has empowered me to embrace my heritage and weave it into the fabric of my work, resulting in a unique fusion of West African and British influences. Their global reach and commitment to nurturing emerging talent have allowed me to showcase my designs to a wider audience, creating opportunities for cultural exchange and appreciation. I am grateful for their ongoing support and their impact on my journey as a designer.

ND: In 2018, I was selected to be part of the BFC NEWGEN program to support the development of my brand and showcase my collections at London Fashion Week. Since then, the BFC has been extremely supportive and has been a key factor in my brand’s success and continued growth.

Your nominated category is new for up-and-coming designers. How do you think this will impact fresh talent looking to establish themselves in the future?

SN: I think it’s amazing there is a category acknowledging emerging talents and their contribution to the industry. It’s great that the Fashion Awards support and acknowledge designers on their journey towards success, and this may inspire up-and-coming talents to strive for their goals.

BS: This nomination and the addition of the new category are inspiring for students and people starting out. It shows exactly what you can achieve in this industry and that talent does get recognized. The brands that are nominated are diverse and began in different ways. I think it shows you that there is more than one way of creating a luxury fashion brand. This category expands the opportunity for more companies to be included within the industry and to be recognized for their skills.

ND: I graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2013 and have been very fortunate to be able to run my own fashion business over several years, selling to global accounts, and have worked on multiple collaboration projects. My hope is that other young designers can look at the award nominees and see more representation of designers from minority backgrounds continuing to tell their own stories and running successful fashion businesses.

The 2023 Fashion Awards will occur on December 4 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Purchase tickets and find out more here.

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