We are proud to announce the London based brand Fortie Label, founded by Central Saint Martins graduate Essie Buckman, as the winner of the AW18 coveted Merit Award. Created in 2009, the new talent initiative is worth £20,000 across three seasons and has been created to support and develop new designer businesses on a global level.

In winning this season’s Merit Award, Fortie Label will receive a fully sponsored catwalk show during London Fashion Week with space to host press and buyers. The Merit Award provides a unique platform for the brightest new designers, with many going on to become established labels in the international fashion industry. Essie follows in the successful footsteps of past winners including; Eudon Choi, Phoebe English, David Koma, Roberts|Wood, Han Wen, Xiao Li, Katie Ann McGuigan and SS18 winner EDDA.

Selected from hundreds of applicants by a judging panel, the fierce aesthetic of Fortie Label, drew attention evoking an audacious perspective on fashion, creating an effortlessly cool yet equally extraordinary look. This paired with a sophisticated approach to niche themes within black culture, the noughties and iconic women in history feed into each collection, along with the additional of technical sensibility towards construction, present a multiplicity of creative concepts.

"It is truly an honour winning the Merit Award as this opportunity with Fashion Scout will enable us to elevate a young up-coming brand such as Fortie Label to the next level.The ability to gain wider recognition, produce an unforgettable show and receive follow up mentorship with Fashion Scout. is invaluable to Fortie Label where we can truly utilise the platform and put us on the radar.The ability to create a iconic production without limitations allows us to show the industry who we are and what Fortie Label stands for with confidence and pride!"

Essie Buckman, Founder of Fortie Label

The Merit Award Judging Panel consisted of six industry experts including Martyn Roberts - Fashion Scout’s Founder and Director, Hattie Crisell - Acting Fashion Editor at The Times, Ida Petersson – Womenswear Buying Director at Browns, Emma Firth – Online Fashion Editor at Hunger, Kendall Robbins – Fashion Programme Manager at The British Council and Fabio Piras – MA Course Leader at Central St Martins, who gathered to make the decision at Selection Panel in November 2017.

“We are extremely excited to award Essie the Merit Award, and showcase Fortie Label at Fashion Scout for AW18. The brand was a easy decision for the judging panel to award Merit to, due to the intriguing fabric combinations and pattern cutting skills, mixed with strong cultural inspiration. Fashion Scout are excited to give Essie the opportunity to continue building the Fortie Label brand and profile here in London."

Martyn Roberts, Fashion Scout Founder and Creative Director

Buckman prides herself in her meticulous attention to detail regarding textile development, often reverting to traditional techniques in hand embroidery and hand painted prints across her urban-luxe womenswear brand. Fortie Label has since shown two seasons independently and has garnered the attention of a variety of powerful fashion and music icons such as Rihanna, Chaelin CL, Jorja Smith, Yukimi (Little Dragon) Kelela and many more.

"It was a pleasure to join Fashion Scout's AW18 Selection Judging Panel and get an international perspective of the next generation of talent to watch. I'm particularly excited about Merit Award Winner Essie Buckman and her brand Fortie Label; an uncompromising, fearless exploration of black representation".

Emma Firth, Hunger Online Fashion Editor and Judge

Born in America, raised in London and originally from Ghana, Essie Buckman used her varied upbringing and clash of cultures to inspire her work and brand aesthetic. During her time at university and since graduating, Essie has worked at many high profile fashion labels gathering experience whilst developing her label which showcased in its first presentation at AW17 LFW.

In 2016 Essie was chosen to debut her first collection at the Central Saint Martins BA Press Show and was the winner of The Nina Stewart Award whilst at university.. After this, the Fortie Label brand was born and from the showcase, gained a variety of press attention including Italian Vogue, Dazed, ShowStudio, Gal-Dem, Hunger and i-D.

For AW18, Fortie Label has been inspired by the Forty thieves, an all-female London crime syndicate who were infamously known for their antics from 19th to mid 20th century. The collection expands from that notion mixed with inspiration from 90’s R&B and Hip-Hop ‘Video Vixen’ stars.


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