It is not easy to start any career, but for the designers today, it is especially hard. More and more people chose to study fashion design and dream about a career in the industry. Everyone speaks about fashion nowadays being available for anyone, and that it is much easier to get the attention of the fashion insiders thanks to the Internet and various online-platforms. The harsh truth, though, is that the more designers there are, the harder it is to get noticed. And yes, Internet is there for everyone, but how does one actually stand out? New talent fashion competitions is one way, and we have explored the possibilities.
In order to find young talents, big companies and the power minds of the fashion industry create all sorts of New Talent fashion competitions for the designers. Obviously, only one or a couple can win, but where I come from we love saying “Participation, not the winning, is what matters”. It really is this way. You may not win, but you will meet people, who can influence your career and help you grow. Communication is everything in the world of fashion. So what options are there?
First of all, there are some big names among the new talent fashion competitions, such as ANDAM Fashion Award, British Fashion Awards, CFDA Awards, H&M Design Award, International Talent Support (ITS), and LVMH Prize. Everything is impressive about them: the list of judges and guests, media coverage and prizes, but, depending on where you are in your training and career path, you can also consider starting with a smaller contest. Moreover, you cannot apply neither for CFDA Awards nor for LVMH Prize, as it’s something you have to be selected for. So what other choices do you have? To get an insider`s information, we have talked to a group of young designers from all over the planet, and they let us know what the situation is like in their home-country.
Virginia Perez Panichi: “There is one competition held by the government called El Premio MAD, and one TV show organized by a fashion TV channel and dedicated to sustainability called Talento Brother. Also, there are two competitions organized by local universities: Universidad de Palermo and EAMODA. Another option is Semillero UBA, which is a catwalk during Argentina Fashion Week with the most talented students of the year from the universities. This is really cool, I think”.
Gabrielle Drew of Tela Milano: “Emerging fashion designers in Australia look towards the UK, in particular, for launching their ideas, brands and talents. Participation in UK-based competitions or London Fashion Week are normally their first steps abroad.
However, there are quite a few competitions in Australia: as a part of a fashion week, Supima Cottons holds a competition for up-and-coming designers. WOOL MARK and the wool industry hold international level competitions, encouraging designers to approach and appreciate the Australian wool products. And there are also such options as Fashion Awards Australia, The Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia`s Awards, Runway for Success and The Australian Wool Fashion Event”.
Jennifer Schneider: “To my knowledge, unfortunately we do not have much in the way of fashion competitions in Canada. The main creative cities are Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
Personally, I set my aim on Europe and not the US, as we (Canadians) have another hurdle to jump over being a green card/visa to live and work in the US after a study period has ended. As a Canadian, it is much easier to obtain a youth mobility visa for the UK, which enables you to work for two years after your study is completed. I believe France and Canada also have a similar program. Even if you just consider participating in a fashion competition, thinking long-term is something to have in mind”.
Zuyu Wang: “In China we have XinHua Cup, XinSiLu and CCTV fashion competition, as well as NAFA Cup The 12th China International Youth Fur Fashion design competition and GET WOW. The most famous one is called Creative Sky, where they invite popular foreign designers to judge. I think lots of Chinese designers would love to try the competitions in Europe, but because many websites are blocked in China (Google, Twitter, Facebook and lots of others), they have a very limited access to the information”. Information about the competitions can be found here.
Hongzhan He: “I would not say that fashion competitions in China are influential, as we do not have a real bureau for the fashion industry. The contests are often sponsored by local companies, and the judging is not fair, as, very unfortunately, in China everything is based on relations. Another point is that for finding a job in China, an overseas experience is highly appreciated, and the same goes for the competitions. Many upcoming Chinese designers will rather apply for a competition in Tokyo, NY, or even Hong Kong with different possibilities than in China mainland”.
Jeetinder Sandhu: “In India, there are not a lot of interesting options for young designers to compete in design competitions on a professional and recognized platform as compared to Europe. However, there are competitions such as the Vogue India Fashion Fund, which does prove to be a very good and interesting platform for young designers to show their talents and creativity. The competition has been happening for only a few years, but its where the next generation of designers are really getting noticed and getting a chance to establish/expand their fashion labels. Another new design competition for students/young designers is the DLF Design Awards, where emerging designers showcase their work to get mentored and get support and publicity for their labels. Lastly, a well-known competition called Lets Design, where the designers work with cotton. This competition is aired on television and has had a few seasons already”.
Maras Mi Apsari: “In Indonesia, we normally join the local Indonesian design competitions, supported by local magazines such as Femina Group, and Bazaar Indonesia, or the Asian-based competitions such as Hempel Awards (China) or Fashion Crowd Challenge (Australia). I work at a local fashion school, and we encourage students to join bigger competitions, such as H&M Global Change Award.
Also, I teach at BinuNorthumbria (it is joined with Northumbria in the UK) where our students participate in the Graduate Fashion Week competitions with many awards. Last year, one of our students became the finalist, and she got a chance to show her collection on the GFW runway and even got some great press”.
Clara Kim: “In Korea, there are two big contests for young talents: LF Creative Festival, which is held by a big fashion company called LF corporations, and Seoul Modellist Contest, which is held by the Korea Modellist Association. Both competitions are very famous in Korea and quite competitive for students, who study fashion there. For someone who wins the prize (whatever big or small), it can be a good opportunity to enter the fashion field to work. As for new talents (born 1990-1994), it is getting harder and more competitive to start working in Korea these days. As a result, young people try to do as much as possible by not only getting a degree in a university, but also having extra skills to their CVs, such as English, experience abroad, and foreign competitions”.
Alex Baranova: “I think that students in Russia usually prefer European competitions with the intention to leave the country. Also they consider competitions based in the USA and China, as students see perspectives there”.
Alex Henkes Frick: “The main fashion contest in Spain is called Ego, and the winners get to participate at the catwalk show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid, do a professional photo shoot, and lots of press coverage. This goes on for two or three seasons. After that, you get to show your collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid showroom for another season or so, which is a chance to show your work next to established and successful Spanish designers.
Unfortunately, you do not get any help, when it comes to producing and selling your collection. The problem is that fashion week in Madrid is not as well-known as in Milan or Paris, so not that many important people come here to buy, and the coverage you get is not that big”.
Muk Vihokratana:”The most popular competition among designers, who come from Thailand, is Vogue`s Who’s on next?, but there are also some others, organized by local magazines and department stores. Of course, the reality is that participation in European competitions will affect your growth on an international level, but for many young people the language barrier is an obstacle”.
Gülfem Erdavran: “In Turkey we have KOZA, which is a great competition for students to get noticed, and to get an interview for your next job. Where it’s really useful to win this as a new designer, it’s less of an opportunity, if you already have a small company or work as an independent designer. Another option for designers in Turkey is to apply to European competitions, such as the Mediterranean Fashion Prize”.
As I come from Ukraine, I cannot ignore my own country, and I must tell you about the two biggest options that are available for the designers. Both are held as part of fashion weeks, which is a great link to the industry. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Prize is for the designers, who aim to be successful internationally, whereas ‘A look into the future‘ better works for those, whose main goal is to develop the local market. Of course, both directions are important, but unfortunately it seems like everyone has to choose one direction at least at the beginning”.
As we can see, young designers from most countries point out that it is important to go abroad and achieve something there in order to become more recognized at home. At the same time, though, new designers are quite realistic, so they start with some local options and then later try their abilities on an international level. Unfortunately, not all governments support the fashion industry, and hopefully this will change in the nearest future, as fashion can be a huge business – a part from adding a cultural story to a country.
At The Fashion Crowd, we encourage all of you to participate in fashion competitions, as a great way to develop your skills and hopefully get exposure. You can never try too hard, and it’s a great experience, if you get selected.
Also, if you know about a competition that we have missed (in one of the mentioned countries or any other) – let us know. We are always eager to get more knowledge and share it with our readers!
Cover photo is from ITS 2013.