Where do the best up-and-coming designers break out from in the United Kingdom? None other than London’s maverick talent incubator Fashion East, of course. With jaw-dropping alumni like Kim Jones, Simone Rocha, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, and Mowalola Ogunlesi, to name but a few, the non-profit initiative is a hotbed of future fashion superstars.
Founded by Lulu Kennedy in 2000, Fashion East started out as a means for designers without the financial backing to showcase their creations. However, over the years, it has become the place to spot new names-to-know, and it’s a highlight on the London Fashion Week schedule, boasting a serious power-FROW where careers can be launched via a single Instagram post.
With the fall 2021 ready-to-wear season set to kick off next week, Fashion East has exclusively shared its new power lineup with Vogue. Alongside the three designers returning to show—Nensi Dojaka, Goom Heo and Maximilian—are two fresh faces: HRH and Jawara Alleyne. “I’m excited by this group of very diverse talents,” says Kennedy. “Not only for their refusal to stop creating under difficult circumstances but also their energy and optimism that they bring to the table.”
London-based accessories designer Hannah Hopkins of HRH (formerly known as Monster Coat Club), explores the intricacy of technical sportswear in her creations. Her designs encompass an athletic sensibility inspired by figure skating and rhythmic gymnastics, paired with a healthy dose of playfulness. “Every accessory comes from a desire to create delightful things for those around me that I love,” says Hopkins, 30. And who doesn’t need a bit of that right now?
“My work aims to share dreams,” says 29-year-old designer Jawara Alleyne, who was raised in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. “To imagine a new future, it’s important for people of color to have autonomy over telling their own narratives and to see themselves reflected through their own lenses.” A graduate of the prestigious MA fashion program at Central Saint Martins, Alleyne explores the archetypal codes in menswear and redefines them with a sensitive touch.
There’s plenty of excitement to be expected from the returnees, as well. There are the confidently sexy designs by Trinidadian-British, 25-year-old Maximilian Davis of Maximilian, the critically acclaimed breakout star of 2020 whose clothes have already been donned by Rihanna and A$AP Rocky. Then there are the delicate layers of sheer silks in the works of Albanian designer Nensi Dojaka, 27, that serve both sensuality and strength. Meanwhile, Korean-born designer Goom Heo, 29, brings a romantic and off-kilter take on sportswear to men’s fashions.
Once again, this coming season, designers are expected to present in a virtual format, which, as always, brings up the challenge of cutting through the noise of content over saturation. But for Fashion East’s class of 2021? Expect nothing less than brilliance—Hopkins, Alleyne, Davis, Dojaka and Heo will certainly captivate with their eagerly anticipated collections. The future is here and, as always, the fashion industry should be ready to take note.