Blog: Leonie BarrieTop talent

Leonie Barrie | 5 January 2004

One of the TV highlights – in terms of viewing figures, not enjoyment – over the festive period was the "World Pop Idol" show, a televised talent contest to find a worldwide pop sensation from the winners of previous Pop Idol programmes. The show first appeared in Britain in 2001, and was such a success that it spun off into similar series in 10 other countries.

Now it seems fashion is also queuing to get in on the act, with a new competition being launched in the UK this year to find tomorrow’s fashion stars. Running alongside – but not part of – London Fashion Week, the event will stump up £100,000 to launch the winner as a designer.  

While it’s true that some of the UK’s best-known fashion names - Stella McCartney, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen – no longer exhibit at the London shows, is a talent show really the best way to get the British fashion industry back on its feet?

The organisers are clearly looking for someone with an edgy vision, as well as a way to extend participation beyond the 40,000 fashion students currently in the UK. And since the majority of new designers lack the skills to ‘go it alone,’ the prospect of financial backing is sure to have enormous appeal.

But while there’s certainly no lack of talent in the UK, would the money be better spent if it was redirected into supporting existing businesses? Designers have significantly different needs at different stages of their careers and a “one size fits all” support regime is unworkable for this very reason. In the world of fashion £100,000 doesn't go very far, and it's not just basic business advice that's required. Long term assistance should also be forthcoming, from marketing through to licensing, if the support is to be really beneficial. 


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