LONDON — British labels Mother of Pearl and Palmer Harding were named winners of the annual British Fashion Council/Vogue Fashion Fund prize on Tuesday evening during an event held at London’s Café Royal. It was the first year that multiple candidates could claim the prize.
Huishan Zhang, Osman, Shrimps, Sophie Hulme and Toogood were among the nominees. The labels unveiled their business plans and collections to the judging panel, which included Alexandra Shulman, Caroline Rush, Helen David, Joan Burstein, Samantha Cameron, Mary Homer, Sarah Manley and Susanne Tide-Frater.
Amy Powney of Mother of Pearl and Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding of Palmer Harding will each take a slice of the 200,000 pounds, or $250,000, fund for the first time. Usually, the prize goes to one winner. The money is earmarked for business development, and the winners will also receive mentoring under the BFC’s British Business Support team.
This year, the fund is asking winners to focus on human resources, and that the prize money be put toward a “full-time or consultant team member” to advise on areas such as accountancy, merchandising, business strategy, international growth, retail and e-commerce. The BFC has said it wants winners to “embrace the impact that hiring experienced talent has had on previous winners.”
The fund, which gave out its first award in 2009, is this year sponsored by Vogue, Burberry, Topshop, Harrods, Paul Smith and the online retailer Label. This is the eighth year of the awards, with previous recipients including Sophia Webster, Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, Erdem, Nicholas Kirkwood and Christopher Kane.
The BFC has said the new 2017 format was meant “to benefit multiple designers at a pivotal stage in the growth of their brand’s development.” It will serve as a test-run, and the BFC has said it would evaluate whether to do the same next year, or to return to choosing a single name. The overarching aim, it said, is to maximize the impact of the prize on building solid businesses.