LIBERTY LONDON has welcomed seven bright young things – Conner Ives, Kitty Garratt, Sam McCoach, Marta Jakubowski, Richard Malone and Richard Quinn – into its womenswear department, and it’s all down to BFC ambassador for emerging talent, Sarah Mower, and her new initiative, Sarah’s List.
“The idea formed out of the depths of despair at Trump being elected and Brexit coming,” Mower told Vogue ahead of last night’s launch party. “I was really worried about the future of young designers, because if there isn’t a new generation, then there won’t be a fashion industry. I’m so interested in what’s coming next as a journalist, I can’t bear the thought of not knowing what will happen.”
The month-long pop-up will see her chosen brands – “seven because the budget allowed seven collections to be bought, not just shown” – sit in the West Gallery, before moving onto the main floor, with the Liberty London team mentoring the designers on the logistics of production and wholesale along the way.
So, what does it take to get the #Sarahslist stamp of approval? “The ingredients that give people the ‘X Factor’ are,” she explained, “One: the group of people they work with, either their family or the family they invent. Two: practical skills, I look for people who can do things step by step and know how to get things made. Three: communication, those who are happy to tell people what they do.”
But, she added, “The truth is that I just enjoy getting to know designers and hearing what they believe in. 10 years ago, elders were preaching to young designers about sustainability and now I feel that they have it in their bones. Each one of the chosen seven has ethical production as their bottom line. They know the industry needs to mend its ways and find new ways of doing things. Richard Malone, for example, employs weavers abroad, who would otherwise not be able to afford to send their children to school. It’s extraordinary, but he doesn’t force that story upon you.”
What’s next for Mower? “I’d like to spotlight other types of talent behind the scenes. There are lots of pathways into fashion that don’t get talked about,” she told us. “I want anyone powerful in the industry to see brands tagged on Instagram with #SarahsList and commission, collaborate or consult for them. The process will grow organically and instinctively though, as always.”
For now, she said, it’s the buzz of discovering the next bright young thing that keeps her going: “I’m really only in it for the chills! After 30 years, there are still incredible things that I haven’t seen before, and that’s the essence of great fashion to me. I’m just happy if I can help influence that world, which will in turn help influence the bigger world.”