Fashion East is the industry’s greatest talent incubator. From Kim Jones, Jonathan Anderson and Simone Rocha to Mowalola, the platform has been responsible for launching the careers of superstar designers. However, a missing link has been additional support to those who’ve emerged. So founder, Lulu Kennedy, and head of projects, Raphaelle Moore, are launching a new initiative in partnership with Ugg, entitled the XLNC Programme (pronounced like excellency), to empower and offer continued support to its exceptional alumni. This season, KNWLS – run by partners in life and work, Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault – will be the inaugural recipients of the £20,000 grant. They will also receive significant investment for the production of the brand’s spring/summer 2023 show.
“This was something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, because we’re aware that there’s opportunity to give additional help to those who have shown with Fashion East in the past, but have yet to find investment, or are taking their own unique path that might not fit into other schemes that are out there,” explains Kennedy of how the initiative came to life. “And there was a lot of enthusiasm for KNWLS from our panel of judges. They were a clear winner to us all, and we’re so excited to offer our continued support to such a brilliant label.”
Senior product director at Ugg, Sandy Grant, adds: “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with Fashion East on this new initiative supporting the UK’s most creative and trailblazing young design talent. Bold, unapologetic self-expression is at the heart of both Ugg and Fashion East, and KNWLS undoubtedly embodies these values so fearlessly through the craft and storytelling.”
“This means a lot to us, as we had an intense few months, and a lot to manage with the growth of the business, so this was a much needed validation,” says KNWLS on how it feels to win the prize. “It’s helped reduce the strain on our business – and on our nerves. And Lulu was one of the first people to believe in what we were doing. Without Fashion East – or Instagram! – KNWLS wouldn’t have existed.”
This upcoming season, the KNWLS show – as well as the Fashion East group show – will be hosted by The Mills Fabrica in Kings Cross. The design duo will also be working with materials from Nona Source, a luxury fabric resale initiative supported by LVMH.