LONDON, United Kingdom — Today, BoF can reveal the names of twenty-six designers shortlisted for the second annual LVMH Prize, an award set up in 2014 that grants a young fashion designer €300,000 and a year of mentorship from executives at the luxury conglomerate.
The shortlist, compiled below, contains designers from the main four fashion capitals, including Craig Green, Jacquemus, Marques Almeida, Agi & Sam, Ryan Roche and Arthur Arbesser, as well as candidates from Belgium (Devon Halfnight Leflufy), Ukraine (Anton Belinskiy) and Denmark (Astrid Andersen). In total, 10 countries are represented, differentiating the LVMH Prize, which casts a global net for design talent, from awards such as NewGen, ANDAM and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which aim to support designers in specific geographies.
In particular, this year’s list has more Asian designers than before: three labels (Sankuanz from China, WrittenAfterwards from Japan and Jourden from Hong Kong) hail from the continent, up from one Asian brand last year, reflecting a shifting fashion landscape in which emerging economies are beginning to create, as well as consume, luxury fashion goods.
“I think it’s good to have a lot of diversity in the nationalities,” Delphine Arnault, executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and daughter of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, told BoF. “It’s one of the specificities of this prize to be very open: designers can be in any region; they can apply freely through the Internet; they don’t have to have a show in a city or a country.”
The shortlist certainly cements London’s status as the premier global hotbed of emerging fashion talent. The city is home to nine of the twenty-six brands — a testament to the quality of its fashion schools. Shortlisted designers Craig Green, Huishan Zhang, Faustine Steinmetz and Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida, the designers behind Marques Almeida, all graduated from Central Saint Martins, while Xiao Li and Nabil El-Nayal, the designers behind the label Nabil Nayal, fly the flag for the Royal College of Art.
LVMH’s shortlist also reflects the rise of the luxury streetwear category, represented by brands such as Astrid Andersen and Nasir Mazhar. The growing importance of menswear is evident too, with seven dedicated menswear brands making the list, as is the fashion industry’s embrace of androgyny. WrittenAfterwards and Baja East are both unisex labels.
As part of its scouting process for the prize, LVMH ran a contest that called on Instagram users to surface unexpected design talent. The winner of this year’s scouting competition, Eduardo Cornejo from Mexico, will travel to Paris, where he will help judge the collections presented by designers on the shortlist.
The next step for the 26 shortlisted designers will be to travel to Paris, where they will show their collections in front of a panel of 45 industry experts, including renowned fashion critic Cathy Horyn, Angelica Cheung, editor-in-chief of Vogue China, and Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman, who will whittle them down to eight finalists.
“It’s a great moment for them to develop exposure for their work to people who are very influential in the fashion industry,” said Arnault. “I think that, for them, even if they are not selected to the eight finalists, it’s already a great way that the fashion world is more aware of their style and their creation.”
The contenders will each be hoping to follow in the footsteps of London-based Canadian designer Thomas Tait, who took the top prize last year (New York-based Hood by Air and Mumbai-based Miuniku, both runners up, each received €100,000 euros and a yearlong mentorship).
“I had a very small team of only one full-time member of staff,” said Thomas Tait of the state of his business before winning the prize. “Now I have three, which is still small and very much a challenge financially. But the results of having more hands on deck have had a direct and almost immediate effect on my brand and its commercial development.”
“I’ve been working with the [LVMH] group on opening more manufacturing channels for the brand, which has been such an eye opening experience,” Tait continued. “We are working on a number of samples with European manufacturers this season and the results are fantastic. Hopefully my sales figures will be high enough to carry on working with these new manufacturers, who are used to working with much larger brands and high volumes.”
“We worked a lot with him this year to work on the strategy of his company and also to find new suppliers for him and also new clients,” said Arnault.
Tait will show his Autumn/Winter 2015 ready-to-wear collection at London Fashion Week on Monday. “We expect a lot from this catwalk,” said Arnault.
The shortlist in full:
Devon Halfnight Leflufy (Antwerp)
Agi & Sam (London)
Andrea Jiapei Li (New York)
Anton Belinskiy (Kiev)
Arthur Arbesser (Milan)
Astrid Andersen (Copenhagen)
Baja East (New York)
Craig Green (London)
Faustine Steinmentz (London)
Huishan Zhang (London)
Jourden (Hong Kong)
Marques Almeida (London)
Nabil Nayal (London)
Nasir Mazhar (London)
Off White (Chicago)
Orley (New York)
Ryan Lo (London)
Ryan Roche (Hurley, NY)
Xiao Li (London)
XimonLee (New York)
Disclosure: LVMH is part of a consortium of investors which has a minority stake in The Business of Fashion.
Editor’s Note: This article was revised on 20 February, 2015. An earlier version of this article misstated that the designer Andrea Jiapei Li is based in China. She is not. Andrea Jiapei Li is based in New York.