NET-A-PORTER launches first annual Vanguard Education Fund and announces mentorship panel of industry figures
January 31, 2022 – As part of its globally renowned talent incubator program, today NET-A-PORTER launches The Vanguard Education Fund, a new mentorship scheme in partnership with the British Fashion Council (BFC) designed to help final-year BA students as they embark on their professional careers in the industry.
NET-A-PORTER reveals the influential mentors taking part in the fund: designers Cate Holstein, founder of Khaite, Conner Ives and Christopher John Rogers; renowned stylist Julia Sarr-Jamois; editorial and tech expert Eva Chen; business mogul, musician, and actor Jessica Jung; NET-A-PORTER’s content director Alice Casely-Hayford, and senior market editor Libby Page.
The Vanguard Education Fund sees NET-A-PORTER engage with the BFC’s network of universities to encourage more diverse talent and to help students as they embark on their professional journeys. The fund will be open to final-year students studying at UK universities within the BFC Colleges Council and selected international institutions (Parsons School of Design, Politecnico di Milano, TAFE Australia and FEDISA Fashion School Cape Town) across multidisciplinary courses, from fashion and design to ceramics, fine art, photography and jewelry. Four winners will be selected and awarded a £12,500 bursary fund and paired with two leaders within the industry, who will act as mentors for the academic year.
At NET-A-PORTER we recognise our responsibility in the industry, to nurture young, creative individuals and we are laser-focused on launching the very best emerging designers. The Vanguard Education Fund will ensure we discover this talent early on and give more students the opportunity to establish themselves within the fashion industry by providing financial and strategic support at the early stages of their careers.
Breaking into the fashion industry is often financially challenging and can be overwhelming. Projects like the Vanguard Education Fund are so important as they pair much-needed bursary fund with essential industry advice. We are delighted to provide students with such a fantastic opportunity and group of mentors to help them navigate the ever-changing fashion landscape.
Quotes from The Vanguard Education Fund Mentors:
Much of my education was shaped by mentors generous enough to take the time to help me become the designer I am today. So I feel like it’s now my turn to pass on the torch. I am always thrilled to work with students and emerging talent, especially having been there myself not too long ago; I know what kids are capable of. With the world being so upside down right now, this support feels essential.
Fledgling designers need a lot of help financially – there are a lot of up-front costs – but I also think just having someone to talk to, feed off and have an open dialogue with is really important; having someone believe in you is invaluable. I know how hard it can be to break into the fashion industry and make a mark, which is why working with and supporting new talent has always been a focus for me.
Fashion is always about what’s next, [so] nurturing upcoming talent ensures the sanctity of this new spirit. There are so many facets to this business that, as a designer and founder, one needs to be mindful of. There’s a myriad of factors that play into the ambition to scale a fashion company. Without efficient guidance, the rollercoaster of ups and downs is sure to be extreme.
The industry is full of talented, creative minds that deserve the space to explore their voices. There are so many amazing designers from non-privileged backgrounds or without family funding that have limitless vision, and it would behove the industry to support them to keep them moving forward. I understand both the exciting and challenging parts of being a young designer in this industry; I’d like to advocate for what these folks might need in terms of support for their businesses.
I’ve always believed strongly in mentorship and the concept of paying it forward. I hope to help designers connect with one another – and with other experts in the field – to build out their businesses and their platforms. Designers need community, whether they’re insiders from the industry who will show up and support, or a digital community who will shop, cheer them on and amplify their talents.
I’m excited to be part of an initiative that will help a new generation of talent to grow and become future innovators. It’s important for fashion to constantly evolve – I believe you can never have enough mentorship and guidance from peers and industry leaders who have traveled the same path.
Over the past few years, the fashion industry has been shaken up by the pandemic, urgent demands for greater diversity and a bigger commitment to sustainability. Now is the time for us to support, nurture and mentor the next generation of design talent, who will continue to drive things forward and innovate.
Applications Open: January 31, 2022
Applications Close: March 3, 2022
Winner’s Announcement: June 2022