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Is there enough support for young talented designers in Milan?

We asked attendees at the Feben show if there’s space on the city’s fashion week schedule for those who want to do their own thing.

As editors battled their way through protests in the centre of Milan this weekend to get from Dolce & Gabbana’s show in the east to Jil Sander in the west, the conversation turned — not for the first time — to how many larger brands show during the city’s fashion week. For emerging designers in Milan, there is the opportunity to ascend quickly in some of the world’s best-known luxury fashion brands. But is there space on the schedule for those who want to do their own thing?

This season, two London-based designers were among a handful of smaller labels to debut on the schedule: Feben showed with the backing of Dolce & Gabbana (part of its “supported by Dolce & Gabbana” initiative, launched in 2022), while Michaela Stark was supported by Fondazione Sozzani. Both brought fresh perspectives to Milan, especially on the size inclusivity front.

We asked Feben and attendees at her show to weigh in on the issue.

Image Sourced: Instagram/@feben.x

Feben Vemmenby, founder, Feben

With this show, I had a bigger platform and more of a support system. Dolce & Gabbana provided support for technicians, more machines, more space, more models — that is crucial when you’re an emerging brand. Sustainability is more than just fabrics; it’s who you hire, who you choose to work with and how you keep that loyalty throughout the whole process. I can make change.

For example, we work with artisans in Accra, Ghana, providing them with financial support. But if I am supported to build a bigger-scale company, I can make an even bigger difference. Dolce & Gabbana’s support helps me get there.

Image Sourced: Instagram/@kenyahunt

Kenya Hunt, editor-in-chief, Elle UK and British Fashion Council (BFC) Newgen judge

I’m a big supporter of Feben — I remember being on the BFC Newgen panel when she first applied during lockdown. It’s so hard for all of these emerging designers: it’s cripplingly expensive to show and run a business. Having sat on these panels looking at their financials, the talent is there, the vision and creativity are there, but they need the business mentorship and financial support. I think it’s commendable how Dolce & Gabbana are consistently supporting these younger talents. It would be great to see more designers doing it. Emerging designers add a fresh new perspective. For instance, in Milan, I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous clothes but the models have been skinnier than ever. This is the only show where I’ve seen this much diversity in terms of body shape and size. It’s good to have that newness and a different point of view coming through by making sure younger designers have a presence among these massive titans.

Image Sourced: Instagram/@yvonneorji

Yvonne Orji, actress

As a black female fashion entrepreneur, Feben is killing the game. It is so important for big brands like Dolce & Gabbana to partner with up-and-coming designers to bring more brand awareness and visibility to their amazing craft. We know how hard it is to get access and to break the glass ceilings in fashion. We talk about body positivity, diversity and inclusion, but sometimes they’re just buzzwords. To really support and put your stamp behind someone so they too can thrive, I think that’s telling, and that’s what we need.

Róisín Tapponi, film curator and writer

London historically has had such an incredible array of young designers. The infrastructure is in place to support these young designers, and, true to form, there’s so many exciting designers now coming out of London — maybe it’s because we’re thinking more globally. Now, other cities are recognising the power and the potential of having young designers. It’s great to see Feben get the opportunity to take advantage of the resources here [in Milan].

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana

A fundamental aspect of our path is the support of young talents; we have always tried to give new generations the concrete opportunity to express their creativity. We cannot speak for others, but it is important for us to look at young talents because they recognise and perceive the sensibilities around them and have fewer filters and superstructures. Feben’s work, as well as that of other young talents who, in their own way, pursue their creative vision, is an inspiration to the industry and the fashion system.

The original article can be found on Vogue US.

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