Five Questions for Simon Ward, COO of London Fashion Week

How do you balance the business side of Fashion Week with the creative? Are they equally as important?

London Fashion Week (LFW) is a platform for British creativity and a showcase for the new season’s collections. Established designers will already have taken the bulk of their orders prior to LFW and emerging talent will aim to conclude orders at showrooms in Paris after LFW. Timewise, LFW sits between these two, thereby combining both the creative expression of showcasing and providing a business platform for the new season’s orders.

How far in advance do you start planning for a Fashion Week?

We are always a season ahead with planning, sometimes two seasons when looking to changing venues. We try to keep our offer fresh, and remain flexible to make last minute changes if we need to.

What criteria do you use for selecting the designers who feature at the shows?

We have an expert panel of press and buyers who work with the British Fashion Council to select new designers. They use their considerable expertise and experience to identify design talent that has a clear, creative handwriting. We review designers on our support schemes to ensure that their businesses are developing season on season.

Please share your lowest moment in fashion and also your greatest triumph.

The lowest point was during a show day, when the heavens opened. The guttering on our main show tent got blocked with leaves and couldn’t cope, resulting in six inches of flood water in the lighting racks. We had to cancel and relocate shows for the rest of the day… and have to inform 500 guests – ghastly!

The greatest triumph has been more general, in that LFW always used to see an ebb and flow, as new talent arrived and then moved on. Through careful nurturing of our emerging talent, we now have a strong and stable line-up of talent that is growing international business. Yet, London retains its crown as the world capital of creativity.

Can an event such as London Fashion Week become a shining example of sustainable design and social impact? If so, how do you convey this message to the fashion world?

LFW has been the platform for Estethica, an initiative to develop sustainability, environment and ethical good practice. It will take time for these principles to be adopted by all fashion businesses, but a start has been made.

Within the UK, the British Fashion Council is working to provide access to jobs in fashion for those from all backgrounds, including the planned introduction, later this year, of a school-leaver apprenticeship to supplement the graduate talent coming out of the UK’s renowned fashion colleges.

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