London is internationally recognized as the most creative and exciting fashion capital that has the best design colleges in the world creating a strong pool of talented designers each year. Established in 1983, The British Fashion Council (BFC) is non-profit organization engaged in various promoting activities offering support to these fledgling businesses, helping them to develop a market and attain sustainable growth. Mr Harold Tillman, one of the most experienced businessmen in the retail, fashion and leisure sectors, is the Chairman of BFC. He has made a significant contribution to the UK economy through a successful business career that has seen him restore cherished British retailers such as Jaeger and Allders, save thousands of jobs and generate employment, help to boost exports and become a strong ambassador for British business abroad. He has also launched a number of charitable initiatives to support UK retail, help future generations of designers, retailers and entrepreneurs, and satisfy his desire to give something back to the industries and institutions that have done so much to foster his success. Mr Tillman is also Chairman of Jaeger and Allders of Croyden, the third largest and one of the oldest department stores in the UK. He is a Director of Lord Coe’s Complete Leisure Group. He also has a variety of other business interests that span the retail, restaurant and leisure sectors. In a tête-à-tête with Face2Face team, Mr Harold Tillman divulges more about British Fashion & Clothing industry and BFC’s activities in its interest.
Can you please acquaint us how British Fashion Council (BFC) came to existence, and its role in Fashion Industry?
Around two decades back in 1983, BFC was formed to promote British fashion design worldwide. With the help of industry benefactors, BFC is offering support to these fledgling businesses, helping them to develop a market and attain sustainable growth.
BFC’s principal activities are: London Fashion Week, incorporating New Generation the sponsorship scheme for new designers, and Fashion Forward which supports designers in the next stage of their development; the annual British Fashion Awards, voted for by key members of the fashion media; and the Colleges Council which develops links between Britain’s top fashion colleges and the industry.
UK has the fifth largest economy. What is the stake of Fashion and Clothing industry in it?
The clothing industry is still an important industry. In 2007, it produced £3.8 billion worth of goods and employed 80,000 people. The clothing and textile industries combined produced £8.5 billion worth of goods and employed 150,000 people.
Taking topic to global fashion industry; how do you visualize the market potential, current movements and key trends?
London’s designers are the most creative in the world. London Fashion Week attracts a global audience, providing a global market for British designers and those who show in London. This season we saw increased attendance from Russia, China, Korea and India and we aim to build growth in these markets.
In the second half of the 20th century much of the manufacturing side of the UK fashion and clothing industry moved offshore? Any comments on this?
The manufacturing industry in the UK is represented by the British Clothing Industry Association, as stated previously the British Fashion Council has a very clear remit to promote British designer fashion businesses through London Fashion Week and the British Fashion Awards.
According to you, what could be the pros and cons of globalization of fashion industry?
As new markets continue to develop, British designers have increased opportunities to develop global businesses. Controlling those businesses and design copyright in new markets is a challenge for all designer businesses.
To see new talents get good opportunities, what efforts are done by BFC?
The British Fashion Council has several initiatives which supports emerging design talent. The most widely recognised is New Generation, currently sponsored by Top Shop. The New Generation scheme offers young businesses financial support to show on the catwalk schedule or in the exhibition at London Fashion Week. New Generation graduates include Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald, Giles and this season Christopher Kane and Marios Schwab.
Designers who graduate through New Generation or who are at a similar level in terms of business development are eligible to apply for Fashion Forward sponsorship. Fashion Forward is in its fourth season and is sponsored by Westfield London. This scheme identifies talented designer businesses which require additional support to show on London’s catwalks. This season’s winners were Rokanda Ilincic, Richard Nicoll and Jens Laugesen.
Thirdly, the British Fashion Council established two years ago the Fashion Enterprise Award which contributes £50,000 to a designer business. Only one designer a year is eligible to receive this award which is announced as part of the British Fashion Awards and is sponsored by Swarovski. Designers apply for this award by submitting business plans outlining how this award will directly benefit their business. This year’s winner is Erdem.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.