Between global initiatives, like the LVMH Prize or the historic International Woolmark Prize, or many of the smaller-scale programs, there seems no shortage of opportunities for support for emerging fashion designers. And yet when you consider the challenges of starting a business in the design industry – the cost of minimum orders, the constantly-changing consumer demands, and simply getting a foot in the door – it makes sense that we should actively foster new talent, providing a platform for it. As Cyrill Gutsch, the founder and CEO of non-profit organisation Parley for the Oceans, says: “Fashion has the power to dream. Fashion allows people to do things that at first sight are illogical, or don’t make sense, but triggers desire and creativity. Fashion can lead the way to change.”
However, despite the plethora of fashion awards that exist around the world, few have managed to capture the nuances of our little corner of the world in Southeast Asia. And yet what richer a destination to find exciting new talent: from the delicate, hand-loomed craftsmanship of India, or the richness of Indonesia’s hand-stamped batik textiles, or even of Singapore’s own melange of cultures that’s given birth to many unique interpretations of various design styles.
With the arrival of Vogue in Singapore late last year, that’s all set to change. As a global brand, Vogue has increasingly made it its focus to embrace cultural differences and shine a light on the breadth of diversity and influences that exists in the global creative community. The Singaporean edition, for its part, has established a foundation – a subscription mechanism within which readers are helping to support home-grown artistic talent. As part of that endeavour, Vogue Singapore has teamed up with the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF) on the inaugural Vogue Singapore x TaFF Innovation Prize.
What differentiates the prize, apart from its region specificity, is its focus on innovation; spanning beyond fashion design, the award celebrates the work of individuals and business that show creative approaches to fashion, lifestyle and consumer technology, such as photographers, video directors and even software engineers. The winner, to be announced at Vogue Singapore’s one-year anniversary this October, will receive a monetary prize of $15,000, media coverage in the magazine, feedback from industry leaders, and introductions to potential investors.
As it stands, the prize is open only to participants of The Bridge Fashion Incubator, a 16-week business programme by TaFF that champions fashion, beauty, consumer and retail tech, but the deadline for the fourth cohort is not until February 11, so there’s time yet to apply via TBFI. We at Esquire wish every participant the best of luck and are excited to see the innovative and ambitious ideas that emerge from this brilliant initiative.