LON­DON

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It wasn’t so long ago that Lon­don Fash­ion Week was the “miss­able” week of the fash­ion month cir­cuit—a week when ed­i­tors and buy­ers could rest their blis­tered feet af­ter New York, be­fore the Mi­lan and Paris shows started. Now, how­ever, if you skip Lon­don, you’d be for­go­ing heaps of cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion, not to men­tion a hot spot for some of to­day’s most suc­cess­ful fash­ion busi­nesses. And that’s due in no small part to Caro­line Rush.

Since be­com­ing CEO of the Bri­tish Fash­ion Coun­cil (BFC) in 2009, Rush has made the U.K.’s fash­ion in­dus­try stronger, big­ger and more ro­bust than ever. She’s brought suc­cess­ful brands such as Burberry, Matthew Wil­liamson and Preen by Thorn­ton Bregazzi back to Lon­don Fash­ion Week, work­ing tire­lessly to change the per­cep­tion “that we are creative but not com­mer­cial,” she says from the BFC head­quar­ters at Som­er­set House. “Yes, we are creative, and we’re proud of it, but part of the work I’ve been do­ing over the past eight years is show­ing that our young, creative busi­nesses are, in fact, busi­nesses. You can see this from the qual­ity of the col­lec­tions—and, of course, we have the Burber­rys, the Mul­ber­rys and the Jimmy Choos of this world. My dream is for Bri­tain to be seen as this bril­liant hy­brid of cre­ativ­ity and com­mer­cial­ity—be­cause we are.”

Long-held per­cep­tions take even longer to change, but Rush has spear­headed ini­tia­tives and part­ner­ships that give young fash­ion brands real, tan­gi­ble sup­port. “We have in­cred­i­ble busi­nesses that started here—Far­fetch, Net-a-Porter, ASOS, Topshop, even Miss­guided and Boohoo—which is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity, so we make sure that our young busi­nesses have ac­cess to the peo­ple who are lead­ing the charge in this area,” she says.

It doesn’t hurt that tech­nol­ogy gi­ants such as Google, Snapchat and YouTube also have of­fices in the U.K.; Rush says they’re an in­creas­ingly key re­source for de­sign­ers, given the im­por­tance of dig­i­tal plat­forms in fash­ion to­day—some­thing she rec­og­nized ear­lier than most. By 2012, Lon­don Fash­ion Week was work­ing closely with Twit­ter. “Fash­ion is an in­dus­try that’s con­stantly speed­ing up, and be­ing ag­ile and adapt­able to that is what it means to be an en­trepreneur to­day,” she ex­plains.

True to her name, Rush is a fast talker and an even faster mover—per­haps this is how she ac­com­plishes so much. So how does she turn off? “I’m rub­bish at that!” she laughs. “Week­days are def­i­nitely full and com­mit­ted to work, and I try to pro­tect my week­ends for fam­ily, but I in­vari­ably end up catch­ing up on things. If I said any­thing dif­fer­ent, my hus­band would call me out on it! It’s an all-en­com­pass­ing in­dus­try—but it’s just a tes­ta­ment to how com­mit­ted I am to it.”

BARCELONA

SOM­ER­SET HOUSE

PAR­SONS GREEN

ROKA

CARO­LINE RUSH

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