Christopher Shannon: Fashion mentors are essential
Christopher Shannon thinks the mentoring he has received after winning the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund is just as vital as the cash prize.
The British designer took home the first ever award last June, bagging £150,000 and industry advice from the likes of Jonathan Akeroyd, CEO of Alexander McQueen, and Barry Mulholland, CFO of Victoria Beckham.
"A lot of younger womenswear brands, mostly Central Saint Martins graduates, have crashed in the past few seasons, because they haven't had that commerce training. That's one of the good reasons this fund exists: you're given the cash, but this whole [mentoring] process has made me think a lot harder about the business side of [the Christopher Shannon brand]," Shannon told British GQ magazine.
Mulholland, who got into fashion after financially advising friend Christopher Kane around six years ago, has been on hand to help Shannon with the "less glamorous" side of business.
He set up an appropriate funding structure for the label as well as forecasting its sustainability for the next few years.
"It was amazing being around someone who has that kind of energy to come up with cool new strategies. As designers, we usually spend so much energy being creative that it's hard to find the energy to think of all that [more logistical] stuff as well at the end of a day. As I'm quite a stubborn person, this process broke me down," Shannon smiled.
"I first met Chris [Shannon] through Caroline [Rush, Chief Executive of BFC] in August 2014. My first impression was that he was really funny, very engaging, very bright. He has an eye for the commercial as well as the creative which is incredibly important for an up-and-coming designer," added Mulholland.