Wallpaper* teams up with Not Just A Label
To put together this year's survey of the finest fashion graduate talent, we partnered up with our friends at Not Just a Label. Over the last three years NJAL has established itself as the must-see showcase and shop window for fashion designers taking their first stumbling steps, and has built up an impressive global intelligence network to scout out the stars (possibly) of tomorrow. Indeed, so impressed were we with NJAL's reconnaissance that we asked them to come up with a long-list of emerging fashion designers, which we then narrowed down to a lucky thirteen.
See more of the thirteen fashion designers in our Graduate Directory
Stefan Siegel, a London-based Tyrolean bored with his banking day job, started Not Just a Label in 2008, with his computer whiz brother Daniel. 'One afternoon I realised that I didn't want to work in a bank any longer,' he says. 'And my brother and I knew a lot of aspiring designers who were telling us of their difficulties, so one thing led to another.'
In some ways Siegel's past experience makes this sideways career move seem almost inevitable. He had worked with local fashion designers and ad agencies while studying economics in Vienna, and had a stint as a successful model after graduation. What he and his brother came up with was a no-brainer bookmark for every fashionista that now generates 20 million hits a month; an on-line showroom for 7,000 emerging fashion designers from 92 countries.
Siegel sees Not Just a Label as a means of out manoeuvring the lumbering luxury goods giants and creating 'thousands of brands'. 'I felt the fashion industry relied on antiquated systems and strategies,' he argues. 'It is slow, it takes itself too seriously and to stay on top you have to challenge these habits, you have to be willing to reinvent yourself again and again. We saw an opportunity to create a platform that recognised tomorrow's leading designers before anyone else does.'
The success of Not Just a Label is built on a scouting operation taking in graduate shows and fashion weeks around the world and supplying a constant stream of new talent. An average of 189 designers are added every month.
Many of the pieces on offer are one-offs or limited runs and often allow for a degree of customisation for the buyer. Customers can often e-mail the designer direct. The site also offers young designers directories of stores, manufacturers, agencies and photographers, while celebrity 'curators' such as Lara Stone and Lady Gaga bring an extra editorial spin.