Fashion month has been and gone and I have plenty to say on the collections (skip to end if you want an explanation on the scant blogging) but first up, a time-sensitive call to go and discover, admire and enthuse in a gathering of fashion talent that is collectively standing for SOMETHING other than just more “stuff”.

Sarah Mower needs no introduction as an inimitable fashion writer as well but her work as a tireless champion of young fashion designers, and particularly for British talent is something that perhaps goes unnoticed in the public sphere.  Her nurturing of talent through one-to-one mentoring, studio visits and business and media introductions in addition to her work as a journalist has seen countless designers rise through the ranks to LFW’s headlining fashion fore.

Through Instagram though, Mower has found a new outlet for her passion for talent-spotting. Her hashtag #SarahsList was born out of a positive fightback against the post-Trump, post-Brexit political climate.  At a time when you might think creativity could be stifled or impeded, Mower’s discoveries demonstrate a young fashion designer landscape that has all the motivation to find alternative ways of doing things.  “I got really down about the political situation and so I thought, what could I do.  Perhaps the one thing I can personally do is to shine a light on fashion talent that are being threatened by Brexit and by Trump and to hopefully get them hired and commissioned by bigger companies.”  To captivate her audience, the accompanying captions for her #SarahsList discoveries on Instagram are lengthy, opinionated and tell a compelling story.

So much so that they caught the attention of Liberty, who then offered to make #SarahsList a shoppable reality, bringing the wares of these fashion fledglings to the 1st floor of the department store.  They’re names that I incidentally have a lot of love for too and ones that I’ve either written about myself or look forward to discovering more of.  And so in a challenging retail environment, where stores aren’t necessarily going all out to take risks and where budgets for young designers have seen shrinkages, Liberty continues its founder’s tradition of seeking out the idiosyncratic and the beautiful to present a new generation of arts and craftivists in fashion.

Looking beyond the immediate razz-ma-tazz the pieces for sale and cannily, Mower has chosen a group of designers that represent not just a an exuberant and celebratory aesthetic but something conscious (without the weight of labelling oneself as “sustainable”), something that contributes in their own little ways a ray of positivity in and industry dogged by cynical ambitions.  Richard Quinn made his LFW debut in the central atrium of Liberty with a continuation of his magnified floral prints blown up to smother the body and so appropriately a collation of special pieces are available as part of the #SarahsList pop-up.  In addition to running his label, Quinn has also just opened his RQ open-access print studio in Peckham that has already become a valuable resource for students and young designers looking to get garments printed.  It’s an ambitious venture to run on top of his own label and I’ll hopefully be checking it out soon to see the print studio at work first hand.  Craft is also apparent in the work of the Georgian jewellery designer Sopho Gongliashvili – the one non-London exception to this group who uses traditional Georgian artisans to create beautiful enamelled accessories.

Kitty Garrett at #SarahsList

Sopho Gongliashvili at #SarahsList

Marta Jakubowski at #SarahsList

Designers such as the young American Conner Ives, who is still studying for his BA at Central Saint Martins makes his retail debut with a collection of special edition shirts made up of vintage scarves and donated Liberty fabrics.. Similarly newly graduated Kitty Garratt, also from Central Saint Martins, took second hand shoes (peer into the painted shoes and you’ll find high street relics like Faith!) and painted them with Charleston-esque freehand brushstrokes.. Upcyling is nothing new of course but in the hands of Ives and Garratt, the proposition is less about a pragmatic approach towards tackling waste but more of a celebratory repurposing of the old.

#SarahsList also hosts designers that have consciousness of sourcing.  Look at Richard Malone’s beautiful AW17-8 collection that features naturally dyed fabrics woven by a community-supporting organization of women weavers in Tamil Nadu in southern India, with the proceeds earned enabling their children to go to school.  Malone’s work doesn’t need that explanatory tag to entice the eye though.  Likewise, there’s an honesty in Sam McCoach’s Le Kilt, which I’ve long been a fan of, with her collection of kilts and knitwear made by small family-run enterprises in the UK.  Fellow N15 resident, Marta Jakubowski also gets the Mower seal of approval with her leftfield approach towards deconstructed tailoring and clubwear-inspired formalwear.

Richard Malone at #SarahsList

All this bigging up of young designers though made me think of a conversation strand brought up at a panel I was a part of recently, chaired by Jefferson Hack as part of Dazed and Huawei’s Secret Lectures.  Olya Kuryshchuk, founder and editor-in-chief of Granary 1 talked about the responsibility we had as media professionals, who actively promote young talent.  In an increasingly difficult fashion system that can be unforgiving for young fashion designers, how do we balance promoting and writing about their work, whilst being mindful of the precariousness of operating as a start-up business.  To that, Mower has the final say that few could argue with and also gives indication on how #SarahsList could possibly spur the fashion system in new directions.

“Does everything have to be large-scale, and everywhere to be valid? I think the opposite values – small-scale, hand-made, consciously produced and NOT everywhere are exactly the ones which people are instinctively drawn to now.  The system at large is dysfunctional, as is widely admitted. I agree it is irresponsible to stand by and wave on more and more people to face exactly the same problems – and the education system is a fault too, in not arming their students with the facts.  The people I mentally put on #SarahsList are the ones I see who have the seeds of new ways of doing things. I think they have a hell of a lot to teach the corporate world – not the other way around. That’s why I have this vision that#SarahsList could become a vehicle for discussing and magnifying the strengths which are already there – and for spreading information and exchanges which are both idealistic and concrete.”

Word.  Preach.  Hurrah.

#SarahsList on the 1st floor of Liberty in London for the forthcoming month

Obviously I couldn’t help but get in on the #SarahsList action…

Richard Quinn “toe” velvet socks from #SarahsList worn with old Jil Sander shirt and H&M’s Design Award Richard Quinn dress (the collection launched last week and pleasingly sold out immediately!)

Conner Ives shirt from #SarahsList worn with Ambush jeans and Nike trainers

On a side note, I too have to spur myself on in an announcement about the blog…

I realise blogging frequency has slowed to a trickle here because I’m in the process of a relaunch (she says with a booming voice).  Actually that word sounds too offish.  It’s more of a rejig – one which means I’ll hopefully still be rambling on about fash-un in that long super-forever-scrollin’ way I favour.  I’m loathe hauling Nico out as an excuse but if truth be told, juggling baby, with jobs that pay the bills and writing for the luff luff luff of it here has been nigh on impossible.  There’s light in sight though.  Nico will be starting nursery soon.  That’s precisely thirty hours extra in the week not spent Dettol wiping after Nico.  Here’s hoping they will be spent productively.

Comments (15)

  1. Ana says:

    It’s great to see a post from you, as always.
    Don’t overwork yourself, and enjoy those future 30 hours 🙂 .

  2. Ana says:

    Hi Susie,
    I’m super glad you can post again, looking forward to the rejig! Since I don’t seem to be able to ask the question on the faq section, here it goes:
    I find so interesting that you love football as well as fashion and you have explain in different opportunities why… So how would you go along to design the trainers with any brand for your favorite football club?

  3. Jandrew says:

    Just love the creative energy of young people being supported. The fashion worlds new voices have something to say about the world they are inheriting.
    This is a great blog , thankyou. I enjoy your style! I’m that rare mystical creature a man who writes a fashion blog for women. I’m always looking for collaboration , partnerships and friendships . Visit me and leave a comment!
    Jandrew
    Dress The Part
    http://www.jandrewspeaks.com

  4. Lanesha says:

    Those floral dresses are just incredible

    x Lanesha

  5. Thank you Susie for your amazing efforts. They are greatly appreciated! X

  6. meagan says:

    love it, as per usual, i’ve followed your since (it feels like) day 1 and i love that you’re still doing this, even though many people have proclaimed fashion blogging as “dead”. love it too that you’re highlighting sarah’s list and talking more about politically charged fashion!!
    i also follow you on instagram and i adore to see updates on your little family and nico!!

  7. Laforce says:

    Outstanding, turning the color array of hungry together to become harmonious!
    http://laforce.vn/

  8. Phong says:

    I enjoy your style! I’m that rare mystical creature a man who writes a fashion blog for women

  9. Laura says:

    Great to see your post, I agree with your thinking, your voice has changed a bit but maybe you’re more you, good stuff!

  10. Ellese says:

    Wow!! All these pieces are so gorgeous. Xo, Ellese

  11. jam T says:

    the socks that are you wearing in the first three pictures ….ohh just outrageous and gorgeous… total fab … way to go….!!!!

  12. Olivia says:

    Loving the Kitty Garrett Heels: so artistic! Marta Jakubowski’s pieces exude a strong sense of modernity. Good stuff as always, keep it up!

    Olivia
    https://www.on-mkt.com

  13. Refreshing to hear your side note.
    Have loved this blog since 2010 and Instagram images.

    Your writing style and the gorgeous photos. Always with quality at the heart.

    So less during a few months (that are precious) and tiring. Good call !

    The quality of any future posts I am sure will be, as always eagerly awaited and appreciated, whether once a month or whatever timescale is more appropriate.

    Looking forward! as your posts are so much more interesting than the ‘lack of genuine interest’ churn-out of so many articles on fashion (and art – that’s my bugbear atm – reading what amounts to more and more blatantly uninteresting sales pitches about the next ‘great’ artist/artwork in Flash or Frieze etc – never seeming to have much interest in the actual work itself)
    …..if that makes sense, I know what I mean 🙂

    And your posts are always so lively and interesting in a genuine way.

    Looking forward and thank you for posting !

    Debbie x

  14. Vector says:

    Those dresses are just incredible

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