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Happy Birthday Fashion East!

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Caitlin Price

Do you want to feel old? Here’s something that’s going to make you feel old: Fashion East turned 15 this year. 15! If Fashion East were a person, they would now almost legally be able to do all sorts of fun things like have sex, marry (with parents’ permission!), work full time and buy lottery tickets! Almost! We remember when Fashion East was that cool, edgy underground thing all the way out in the then-practically unknown, liminal expanse of East London, back in the days before it became all bicycle cafes and artisan kale chips. Granted, Fashion East is still cool and edgy but one thing it most certainly is not is underground.

A firm fixture in London’s fashion landscape, Fashion East has proven itself as the stepping stone for new designers, offering them a major leg up onto the world’s main stage in an industry that’s notoriously hard to break out into. With alumni including Gareth Pugh, Jonathan Saunders, House of Holland, Louise Gray, Marios Schwab, Meadham Kirchhoff, Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic and Simone Rocha, it’s become as much a part of the establishment as Fashion Week itself.

Each season, three menswear and three womenswear designers receive a bursary, free venue and complete catwalk show production to present their collections to a starry mix of press, buyers and industry insiders – as well as mentoring and PR throughout the year. Run as a not-for-profit, the organisation and its founder and driving force, Lulu Kennedy, acts as a sort of “foster mum”, working with designers for a few seasons to get them onto their feet and then releasing them gently into a world that has been primed for their success.

This season’s women’s selection, shown just a few weeks ago, was a solid reminder of all the reasons why Fashion East is still so relevant, and so necessary. Caitlin Price, This is The Uniform and Richard Malone presented fresh and innovative collections that were joyfully exuberant and hugely wearable. We loved Price’s sportswear-meets-gala-gown aesthetic; the artfully dishevelled and deconstructed femininity of Malone; and This is The Uniform’s sleek and preppy utilitarianism – three very talented names we can’t wait to see more of in future. And ultimately, that’s what keeps Fashion East in the spotlight and commanding the kind of frenzied attention that it does: the incredible star quality of its designers.

Richard Malone

This is The Uniform

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