Fashion East: the next gen designers you need to know
Fashion East's new line-up is here, consider it your cheat sheet to the future of London fashion
image Jawara Alleyne by Emily Keogh for Fashion East
words Megan Wallace
September is officially upon us and, as anyone who’s watched The September Issue knows, it’s a big month for the fashion world. This is a time for a major sartorial reset, as fashion month ushers in a new season and, more often than not, a vibe shift.
Fashion events have already been underway in cities like Stockholm, Tokyo, and Copenhagen but London Fashion Week doesn’t kick off until 16 September, when the world’s eyes will be on the scrappy, experimental designs which the British capital is known for.
Nothing represents the UK’s emerging fashion scene quite as well as Fashion East, the incubator programme founded by Lulu Kennedy MBE (check her out!) in 2000 has mentored industry greats like Kim Jones, Craig Green, and Simone Rocha as well as up-and-comers like Mowalola, Chet Lo, Supriya Lele, and Nensi Dojaka. Basically, if there’s a hyped name on the London fashion scene, there’s a 50/50 chance they were on the Fashion East roster at one point or another.
Typically, the programme represents three designers — normally recent grads, who apply online in order to be considered — at any one time, for a total of four season each. In this time, they’ll present at the Fashion East LFW runway show and receive financial bursaries and expert mentoring.
With the scheme’s credentials, the announcement of its roster each season is a major event itself and details of its line-up officially dropped yesterday (31 August). So who’s on the list? Keep reading to find out.
Returning for his final season with Fashion East is Jawara Alleyne, an award-winning designer from Jamaica and the Cayman Islands who graduated from London College of Fashion in 2016 and completed an MA at CSM in 2020. A close collaborator with photographer Campbell Addy, the duo co-founded the now-defunct casting and modelling agency Nii Agency together. As a designer, Alleyne is known for a deconstructed take on t-shirts - all rips and safety pins - and his designs have been worn by none other than Rihanna.
A Fashion East newbie, Karoline Vitto has just joined the line-up and has a total of four seasons ahead of her with the talent incubator. It's likely, however, that you already know the name: the Brazilian designer's wares have been seen on the likes of Shygirl, Paloma Elsesser and Precious Lee, who wore a custom Karoline Vitto dress on the cover of Brazilian Vogue. A graduate of both CSM and Royal College of Art, she has run her own brand since 2020 and creates abstract, form-hugging pieces which celebrate and emphasise the female body across a spectrum of sizes.
Michael Stewart is the final name on the Fashion East slate for SS23 with his Standing Ground label, founded last year in 2021. The Irish designer presented his RCA MA graduate collection in 2017 and since then has become known for his elegant pieces incorporating draping and abstract silhouettes, often drawing inspiration from ancient landscapes and artefacts.