This week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Julian Whitehead and Debra Hepburn, two of four founders behind brand new online boutique ‘Young British Designers’. Bursting with enthusiasm, they told me all about this exciting new venture set to launch this September, just in time for London Fashion Week. Budding British designers, listen up…
Firstly, describe what ‘Young British Designers’ do?
We are an online boutique and we do exactly what it says on the packet, creating a business focused solely on naïve British talent. We’re not saying you have to be young; we simply look for British based designers that are in the early stages of their career. Not only do we support talent that is, for the moment, unheard of we also look at those reentering the design world. Designers such as Felicity Brown for example, that have worked in the industry under bigger labels and only recently begun to launch collections of their own.
You describe the site as a “stage”, a platform for new designers, what is it that makes you so niche?
We are the stepping-stone between events like Vauxhall Fashion Scout and huge buyers like Net-a-Porter. Once a new designer has shown at LFW, perhaps for the first or second time they are still ‘emerging’ and looking for the next step. Based online, we reach audiences globally but unlike other online boutiques we focus only on great British design talent, attracting those who love and appreciate just that.
Who is the ‘Young British Designer’ customer?
Our customer wants to make an individual style statement. Today more and more people endeavor to pioneer their own look, in doing this they want to wear strong innovative designs.
Those with a specific interest in British design are not a mass audience. It’s a special group of people. In a sense ‘Young British Designers’ is a risk, but there is too little risk-taking going on in the world!
How do you select designers for the online boutique, will you be attending London Fashion Week S/S 11 for this reason?
We are constantly scouting for young design talent whether it is during Fashion Week, online or a designer approaches us directly. Though when someone is going something fantastic it’s obvious and we snap them up! Of course we will be keeping our eyes peeled this season as well as catching what our current designers have in store for S/S 11.
How does the relationship between the online boutique and each young designer work?
Once a designer features on our site we aim to form a sustainable relationship, supporting them as they progress and become more widely known. We act as a launching pad and hope to grow with our designers until they are in their fourth collection or so, producing stronger work with every season. Having had a sneak peak of a few S/S 11 collections they already appear to be going from strength to strength!
As we chatted I stole a glimpse of the website which is set to launch early this September. It was inspirational to discover this is not just another online boutique but a platform bringing the “emotion back into fashion”. A personal blurb accompanied each designer’s product list and it quickly became clear that this is not just about shopping but about promotion, as Debra Hepburn exclaimed;
“We’re not just talking about the clothes, we’re talking about our designers. Where they’re from, their inspirations and how wearing their clothes makes you feel”
Masterminded by advertising gurus Stuart Jackson and Debra Hepburn and brand experts Julian Whitehead and Adriana Wheatley ‘Young British Designers’ is a refreshingly personal online shopping destination. With such pride taken and support given any budding British designers stocked on the site will inevitably thrive.