SAAGEM TUTTAVAKS – Mr. and Mrs. Fashion Scout

Foto: Fashion Scout

Täna teatasid Ettevõtluse Arendamise Sihtasutus koostöös kodumaise moeagentuuriga fashionavant ning Euroopa juhtiva moeagentuuriga Fashion Scout, et on korraldamas Eesti disaineritele mõeldud koolitusprogrammi „International Accelerator Programme – Empowering Estonian Fashion Designers“. Portail võttis kätte ning uuris lähemalt, millega tegu – seda nii fashionavantilt kui Fashion Scouti asutajatelt Martyn Robertsilt ja Biljana Poposka-Robertsilt.

“Oleme juba mõnda aega mõtteid mõlgutanud, kuidas tuua rahvusvahelise moeäri teadmised Eesti disaineriteni,” sõnab fashionavanti kaasasutaja Piret Rätsep. “Kuue aasta jooksul oleme koostööd teinud paljude Eesti moebrändidega ning ikka ja jälle toovad nad peamise kitsaskohana välja just moevaldkonna äriliste teadmiste puudumise ning oskuse, kuidas saavutada rahvusvahelist edu. Tänu EASile ja Fashion Scoutile avanes suurepärane võimalus algatada Eestis rahvusvaheline koolitusprogramm, mis keskendub just moevaldkonna eripärale ning aitab brändi ette valmistada kasvuks ning moemaastikul konkurentsis püsimiseks. Fashion Scouti näol on tegemist maailma ühe juhtivama moeplatvormiga alustavatele disaineritele ning nende ligi 20-tegutsemisaasta jooksul on aidatud rahvusvahelise eduni nii mitmedki brändid ning läbi viinud palju edukaid koolitus- ja mentorprogramme erinevates riikides. Meie eelnev positiivne koostöö Fashion Scoutiga ning Martyni ja Bilijana suur kogemus olid määravaks, miks teha antud koolitusprojekt just koostöös nendega.” Piret lisab, et Fashion Scouti eestvedajate Martyni ja Biljana näol on tegemist kirglike moeentusiastide ja moevaldkonna ekspertidega, kes on võtnud oma südameasjaks aidata just alustavaid suure potentsiaaliga disainereid üle maailma. “Meil on tõesti suur au ja rõõm nendega koostööd teha ning Eesti disainereid ülejäänud maailmale tutvustada,” lisab ta.

Edasi jätkub intervjuu Fashion Scouti asutajate Martyn Robertsi ja Biljana Poposka-Robertsiga ning seda inglise keeles, sest me ei soovi kunagi, et Portaili lehel midagi tõlkes kaduma läheks. 

Martyn, Biljana, as this is Portail’s first interview with Fashion Scout, I have to ask – how did Fashion Scout come about?

Martyn: During my career in Fashion PR, I realised that emerging designers were struggling to find a professional platform to showcase their collections and provide them with support and advice to build their businesses. Addressing this gap in the market I set-up my first project in a historic London carpark, which attracted international designers as well as hugely reputable audience from the industry and media. The success of this first season proved there was a hunger for the creation of a bigger platform. In 2006 Fashion Scout was born and has showcased over 1,000 designers to date, with many growing into internationally recognised businesses.

What is the shortest way to describe what Fashion Scout is today?

Global platform empowering the future of fashion 

What do you consider Fashion Scout’s biggest strength? 

Our wealth of experience and international recognition with the ability to provide crucial steppingstones for emerging design talents. 

From London to Paris, Ukraine and China… How do you manage it all?

Vision, passion, perseverance and lots and lots and lots of hard work!

What area is the most exciting for you at the moment – perhaps you can name countries, fashion weeks, designers that have caught your and Fashion Scout’s eye?

We recently launched Fashion Scout China which is super exciting for us. Over the years we have launched many designers from China who are now globally recognised designers, such as Angel Chan, Xiao Li, Masha Ma and we have an eye on number of emerging designers from that region.

We are also keeping an eye on the designers from Africa, Lagos Fashion Week is producing some great new designers, and of course we always have our eye on Europe – we love what Triinu Pungits and Kristel Kuslapuu from Estonia are doing, and can’t wait to be inspired by some of the new designers applying for this programme. 

How much do you know about the Estonian fashion scene? Any designers you keep an eye on?

The Estonian fashion scene has been on our radar for some time now and we regularly keep an eye on the new and upcoming designers that are springing out and flourishing. 

Martyn: Well for those who know me, I have a passion for big hats, so I do love GUILD.   And designers Kristel Kuslapuu and Triinu Pungits have won awards at Fashion Scout – both are winners of Fashion Scout’s acclaimed “Ones To Watch” award.

In collaboration with fashionavant you are launching – for the first time – “International Accelerator Programme” in Estonia. Tell us a bit about this program.

We have worked with fashionavant team a number of times over the years with great success and we are excited about this new collaboration. Building on Fashion Scout’s extensive track record in mentoring and business accelerator programmes, for this project, together with fashionavant, we worked to create a programme that would be suitable for the Estonian emerging designers, addressing market needs. 

The programme will offer eight 1,5 hour long highly informative and practical sessions by international industry experts. These experts have all had over 10 years’ experience in their respective field and have delivered session for us all over the world. The topics will cover areas that are essential for business development and growth such as financial planning, market research and trend forecasting, branding, pricing strategy, range planning, sales, marketing, and case studies. Not only do these sessions educate and inform they also provide much needed steppingstone into the international market and preparedness for it. 

We are just coming out of a pandemic. What did you learn this past year and what do you think will be changed for good, fashion-wise?

Billie: I cannot say how many times we used the word “pivoting” in the past year – for us this word represents this crazy year we have had in a positive way. As we had to change and re-think the way we normally do things we learnt that adaptability is absolutely crucial to one’s success. We also learnt to slow-down, make most of the power of “local” both in design, community, and even shopping and communicate in different ways which is equally as powerful. Whilst it was challenging and our industry suffered we were also proud of the projects our team achieved, making the most of technology and power of our international networks. 

Martyn: I feel that many practices we learnt over the pandemic are here to stay. The designers are producing less but of better quality. They will continue to build more personal relationships with their customers and also spend more time on continual development, exploring different avenues from manufacturing, fabrics, sustainability to positive social, divers and eco practices. 

Hopefully things will eventually get more back to normal by fall. What will this upcoming season bring for you and Fashion Scout – events, fashion shows, travels?

We can’t wait for physical events to fully start again, but we predict that September will be a slow burner in UK as the government and people are still cautious and there are many uncertainties. Many of the digital learnings from the past year will be here to stay and will be integrated into our offerings. We are planning a series of hybrid physical and digital events which will be a great start to shake-up new beginnings post pandemic.

And lastly. What do you feel are 5 things that fashion designers or brands need to have today to make it big internationally?

  1. Have a clear brand identity and know what your USPs are.
  2. Be aware of your positioning and pricing and how this will impact on your move into new markets. 
  3. Research and follow the markets you want to go into. See what is selling in your favourite international stores, check prices, check the brands, follow. 
  4. Make sure you are fully ready for sales including range planning, a cohesive pricing strategy and all the materials needed for international sales 
  5. Finally, when you have the opportunity to showcase internationally don’t forget to plan your PR and marketing strategy, both international and local. Connect and communicate and build a community around you.

And now, some rapid fire questions – because, why not:

Favourite restaurant in London?

Martyn: I love discovering new and exciting street food – going to Spitalfields Market, Brockley Market, Brick Lane and Box Park and uncovering new tastes and combinations.

Billie: Gunpowder – a modern Indian restaurant, in Spitalfields.

What brings a smile to your face?

Martyn: Scouting new talent and helping them achieve their dreams.

Billie: My family and sunshine.

Best career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Martyn: Follow your vision and never give up!

Billie: Believe in yourself and your talents!

Last thing you binge-watched?

Martyn: Lupin.

Billie: The Queen’s Gambit.

Last thing that made you laugh to tears?

Martyn: My eight year old son and his friends dancing to Nirvana!

Billie: Learning to paddle board on a choppy sea and falling off 100’s of times.

 

Tingimused ja ankeedi „International Accelerator Programme – Empowering Estonian Fashion Designers“ koolitusprogrammis osalemiseks leiab SIIT. Projekti rahastab Euroopa Regionaalarengu Fond.

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