NET-A-PORTER presents its class of ’21 Vanguard designers and announces The Vanguard Education Fund, an expansion of its mentorship program to encourage more diverse talent into the fashion industry

September 20, 2021

NET-A-PORTER expands its Vanguard mentorship program and announces The Vanguard Education Fund, an initiative to help shape the future of the fashion industry. In partnership with the British Fashion Council (BFC), The Vanguard Education Fund will see NET-A-PORTER engage with a network of universities to encourage more diverse talent and to help these students as they embark on their professional journeys in the industry. NET-A-PORTER also celebrates The Vanguard’s Class of ’21 designers, highlighting their stories and the diverse creative communities around them, through a campaign co-produced with emerging local talent.  

As a champion and incubator of new talent, through the Vanguard program, NET-A-PORTER brings nascent brands to a global audience and supports them on their journey to becoming successful businesses.​Providing bespoke mentorship and exposure to help emerging designers to further their growth in the industry, it has to date supported 25 brands, 56% of which are BIPOC owned. Within the program, each designer receives comprehensive mentorship, encompassing training and guidance from NET-A-PORTER’s unparalleled global team of specialists within each department of the business, providing a 360-degree approach to building a successful business. Furthermore, the Class of ’21 designers will be featured within a stand-alone campaign, providing visibility across NET-A-PORTER’s channels, reaching an audience of over 9 million, helping to build their profile.

The Vanguard Education Fund sees NET-A-PORTER engage with UK universities within the BFC Colleges Council, alongside select international universities. The aim of the fund is to foster greater diversity in the fashion industry by supporting talented applicants from a broad range of backgrounds. It will be open to final-year students across multidisciplinary courses, from design, marketing, comms and content creation to photography and jewelry. To ensure their future success, each of the four winners will receive financial support to help them as they begin their careers. They will also be paired with a mentor who complements their individual ambitions.

NET-A-PORTER’s Class of ’21 celebrates the designers who have launched as part of the Vanguard this year, alongside those from alumnae brands, highlighting their success stories and the communities, muses and teams who have helped them on their journey. Khiry Fine​, Renaissance Renaissance​, Sindiso Khumalo​, Connor Ives​, Interior​and Lukhanyo Mdingi, are joined by alumnae brands including Christopher John Rogers, Peter Do and Minjukim, each having received dedicated mentorship through the Vanguard program. Their stories will be brought to audiences across NET-A-PORTER’s channels, including TikTok, IG Reels, IGTV and YouTube, as well as the brands’ own platforms. 

We are thrilled to be extending The Vanguard program by partnering with the British Fashion Council to launch The Vanguard Education Fund. Our goal is to ensure that the next generation of creative talent is given early support to enable their success before they embark on their professional journey – we see this as especially important given the challenges the pandemic has brought to the creative industry and, most notably, at a grass-roots level. We are passionate about nurturing a diverse and representative mix of talent and are excited to see who emerges through the scheme.

Lea Cranfield, chief buying and merchandising officer, NET-A-PORTER, MR PORTER and THE OUTNET

Editor’s Notes

  • The Vanguard Education Fund will be accessible to final-year students through a competition run by the BFC that is open to all BFC Colleges Council members, as well as Parsons School of Design, Politecnico di Milano, TAFE Australia and FEDISA Fashion School Cape Town
  • Four BA final-year university students will be chosen as the winners of the fund by a group of judges from NET-A-PORTER and the BFC
  • Each winner will receive a monetary prize and access to two mentors for the academic year
  • Mentors will consist of NET-A-PORTER spokespeople, industry experts, brand founders, designers (including The Vanguard program alumni) and entrepreneurs