2 November 2014
by Marion Lean
Architecture Design Fashion caught up with Robert Cavell-Clarke in Macedonia for Fashion Weekend Skopje last month to discuss Not Just a Label, a platform which supports designers to develop their fashion businesses.
What is NJAL and what is it doing worldwide to find, showcase and develop emerging talents in the fashion industry?
NJAL is the world-leading platform for emerging fashion designers from around the world. We have 17,000 designers from 110 countries, and give them the chance to come together, promote their businesses internationally, and generate actual revenue to fund their future collections and business growth. We are continually growing our community of designers by travelling the world, attending events, holding lectures and studio visits.
NJAL is rethinking the fashion industry, connecting global audiences with local designers and transforming the potential for emerging artists. We offer designers support in building an independent business, with expertise in PR & marketing, business, physical retail, e-commerce, as well as a solid network of partners in the global fashion industry. At the same time we sell their collections and offer customers authentic luxury and bespoke garments.
Why did you choose to visit fashion weekend Skopje and what do you expect to bring back from it?
We have seen a big growth in designers from Southeast Europe, these trips give us an opportunity to discover the city, visit institutions, showrooms and studios to meet the people who are making change and invite the best new designers to join NJAL.
We go to the most important creative events and take time to lecture at schools and institutions. We really like to seek out and nurture the best design talent, from all over the world. We hope to find the designers that are truly dedicated to developing their fashion label and have a well-put together profile and look-book. When we find designers that have reached this stage and are ‘ready’, we generate exposure for them through editorial coverage, NJAL’s social media channels, or our ‘Black Sheep’ section, a useful tool for industry insiders to source designers for magazine editorials or PR opportunities. The team and myself also do a lot of international travelling. We attend global fashion weeks,
Do you proactively look for talent and new connections, or just provide an open source platform where emerging designers get exposed to a global audience - or both?
Both, we provide a place where designers, buyers, press and customers come together to discover and collaborate with each other independently. We the whole scouting team searches for talent and new connections everyday.
Are there any opportunities for Macedonian fashion designers for international exposure through NJAL or otherwise?
Definitely, our followers and our consumers are looking for authentic luxury. They are looking for something unique something that has a story. A designer can enjoy a fan base on the other side of the world using digital global platform. Land borders are not an issue anymore.
What does contemporary fashion market expect of emerging designers in terms of ideas, quality and innovation?
How does one stand out in such a competitive environment?
We are always fascinated by designers who back their designs with a deep inspiration that reflects their personality, or illustrates events in their life. Real designers are independent; they design as a way to express themselves. You can really see this in this seasons talents. They all have amazing stories to tell, they are extremely creative and have a good understanding of craftsmanship. However, designers have to be willing to be creative not only in terms of design, but also when planning their marketing and branding strategy, when selecting stockists and focusing on their regional markets. We live in a global market, which means designers have to be willing to leave antiquated methods behind and run their businesses on five continents at the same time. Opportunity and challenge in one, it just depends how you look at it