Ded­i­cated fol­lower in fash­ion world

Our fash­ion in­dus­try is still not taken se­ri­ously, says Tessa Hart­mann

The Herald Business - - Sideways Glance -

Is Scot­land fash­ion­able? It sounds like a topic for the chat­ter­ing classes to de­bate af­ter a de­signer shop­ping spree. You might ask why it mat­ters be­cause you couldn’t care less whether skinny jeans have given way to baggy den­ims, white is the new black, or Bay City Roller trousers will ever be cool again.

But it mer­its se­ri­ous anal­y­sis given that our econ­omy ben­e­fits from 500 de­sign and tex­tile com­pa­nies with joint turnover in ex­cess of £1bn.

The tex­tiles in­dus­try em­ploys more than 22,000 peo­ple in Scot­land. That gives us 22,000 rea­sons why it is i mpor­tant for Scot­land to be con­sid­ered fash­ion­able.

If we fail to com­mu­ni­cate the right global mes­sage about Scot­tish de­sign and tex­tile skills we risk los­ing an im­por­tant source of em­ploy­ment.

One of the rea­sons I launched the in­au­gu­ral Scot­tish Fash­ion Awards in May was a be­lief that we can only plant our flag con­fi­dently on the global fash­ion map by cre­at­ing a bold show­case for our de­sign tal­ents and our ex­per­tise in man­u­fac­tur­ing, tex­tiles and lux­u­ri­ous cash­mere.

It was crit­i­cal to show­case them be­fore the in­dus­try’s lead­ing opin­ion-for­m­ers. That’s why we as­sem­bled a stel­lar list of judges for the awards in­clud­ing Bri­tish Vogue ed­i­tor Alexandra Shul­man; Jean Marc Lou­bier, a di­rec­tor of LVMH; Alastair John­ston, vice- chair­man of IMG, owner of the world’s num­ber one model agency, and Jen­nifer Uner, founder of the Los An­ge­les Fash­ion Awards.

Be­fore the event scep­tics were ask­ing: “Do we even have any Scots who are big in fash­ion?” We were glad to be able to demon­strate that the an­swer was a re­sound­ing “Yes’’.

And I was even more de­lighted that we per­suaded so many of them to jet in from the fash­ion cap­i­tals of the world to at­tend the awards.

Few Scots could have told you be­fore the event that lead­ing fash­ion houses of Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo; Es­cada and So­nia Rykiel are all headed by Scots creative direc­tors – namely, Graeme Black, Brian Ren­nie and April Crich­ton.

As well as th­ese es­tab­lished play­ers, there are up-and-com­ing Scot­tish de­sign stars, in­clud­ing Jonathan Saun­ders and hot new tal­ent Christo­pher Kane, whose in­spi­ra­tional grad­u­ate col­lec­tion caught the ea­gle eye of Anna Win­tour, US ed­i­tor of Vogue. Scots tal­ent in­cludes fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher Al­bert Wat­son and top stylist Joe McKenna.

With this wealth of tal­ent em­a­nat­ing from Scot­land you might won­der why, when I was in­vited to ad­dress Scot­tish En­ter­prise’s tex­tiles con­fer­ence on the topic of ‘ Scot­land the Fash­ion­able’, I be­gan with two blunt ques­tions: Is Scot­land re­ally fash­ion­able? and Who says so?

There were a few raised eye­brows over my temer­ity at putting the na­tion’s fash­ion rep­u­ta­tion un­der a crit­i­cal spot­light.

I was not seek­ing con­tro­versy for con­tro­versy’s sake. In­deed, I am a pa­triot and fash­ion lover as well as pas­sion­ate be­liever in this na­tion’s abil­ity to pro­duce phe­nom­e­nal tal­ent. So why raise the ques­tion?

I be­lieve there is a real dan­ger that slo­gans such as ‘Scot­land the Fash­ion­able’ or ‘Glas­gow: Scot­land with Style’ are too freely bandied about as part of ill-con­sid­ered and of­ten in­ward-look­ing mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.

Events and cam­paigns need to be about more than just raz­za­matazz. They need to have a strate­gic fo­cus and an eye to in­ter­na­tional ex­port mar­kets (the most im­por­tant for our de­sign and tex­tile firms) oth­er­wise they are just ex­pen­sive par­ties.

Mak­ing a Rus­sian model the face of ‘Glas­gow: Scot­land With Style’ will haunt us for a long time.

And there was a cringe fac­tor over the in­au­gu­ral Ed­in­burgh Fash­ion Fes­ti­val too. A col­lec­tion by Vivi­enne West­wood was the star at­trac­tion but she was not even there. In the world of cat­walk, my dears, the de­signer ac­com­pa­nies the mod­els af­ter the finale. Why run the show with­out the de­signer ? It makes Scot­land look lack­ing in con­fi­dence and am­a­teur­ish.

We have shown that the right event will at­tract the key in­flu­encers.

Now that the big­gest fash­ion wagon to come to Scot­land for decades has left town, it is crit­i­cal that we con­tinue to raise the game in pro­mot­ing our fash­ion tal­ent. How do we do that: For starters, we are al­ready plan­ning the sec­ond Scot­tish Fash­ion Awards and this time, with the in­dus­try’s help, we hope to show­case de­signs by Scot­tish-based com­pa­nies as well as ex-pats.

To de­liver the mes­sage be­yond our shores we are also work­ing on an ex­cit­ing new project called ‘ Cat­walk Cale­do­nia’ which would in­volve a trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion linked to ma­jor fash­ion weeks around the world, show­cas­ing Scot­tish tal­ent in Los An­ge­les, Paris, Lon­don and New York.

Any­one can look in a mir­ror and tell them­selves they look fab­u­lous. Hav­ing some­one else tell you means so much more.

When the tagline ‘ Cool Cale­do­nia’ be­gins ap­pear­ing in Womens Wear Daily, Drap­ers Record, the New York Tri­bune or Paris Match as well as at home, then we can truly say, with hand on heart – yes, Scot­land is fash­ion­able.

Tes­saHart­man­nisManag­ingDirec­to­rofthe TFFA­gen­cyand­cre­ato­rofthein­au­gu­ral Scot­tish­Fash­ion­Awards

Shin­ing ex­am­ple: In­ter­na­tional su­per­model Kirsty Hume at the Scot­tish Fash­ion Awards

Straight talk­ing: Tessa Hart­mann

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