International designers from 26 countries bring local fashion to London’s global stage

02 February 2017
Back to news list
International designers from 26 countries bring local fashion to London’s global stage

The British Council, British Fashion Council (BFC) and Mercedes-Benz will collectively present work by emerging fashion designers from 26 countries for the sixth annual edition of the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) 2017 at Somerset House in February. The IFS is a series of specially-commissioned and curated fashion installations featuring work by emerging designers from all over the world and this year will include designs from Chile, India, Russia as well as designers from Eastern Europe, Central and South America. The collections presented will offer a balanced mix of womenswear and menswear. 

This free and public exhibition forms a key part of London Fashion Week Festival, giving the public, press and buyers the opportunity to discover fashion from all over the world and to celebrate its universal relevance.

For the first time, the IFS will be supported and presented by Mercedes-Benz that for the past 22 years, has established itself globally as a key player and partner at over 50 fashion platforms, shows and events. As part of the award ceremony, where prizes will be announced on 19 February for the winning Country, Designer, and Curator, Mercedes-Benz will present the winning Designer with the unique opportunity to showcase his or her collection at one of Mercedes-Benz’ global fashion platforms. 

The exhibition will be arranged over 14 rooms, 13 of which will represent a country. There will be one group installation, Next in Line, curated by Shonagh Marshall which will feature designers from nine further nations. A key highlight and new to IFS 2017, in a dedicated area, Mercedes-Benz will showcase five emerging designers from Canada, China, Germany, Portugal and Ukraine who the brand supports through its International Designer Exchange Programme (IDEP).

The countries showcases: Austria, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Korea, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Taiwan and Ukraine. 

The Next in Line participants: Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, South Africa, Switzerland, Uruguay and Zimbabwe. 

The theme of this year’s exhibition is Local/Global. Countries have been invited to explore the influence of place on fashion and to examine how emerging designers can transform their local culture into a global language. Fashion is shaped by its surroundings: the rhythms of nature, climate, cultural memory, social change and historical shifts are reflected in silhouettes, techniques and materials. The peculiarities of ‘place’ give rise to different ways of designing, making and wearing fashion. By considering fashion within their own landscape, the countries taking part in IFS will highlight the similarities and differences of our complex and connected world. 

To reflect how fashion is influenced by its surroundings, the West Wing Galleries at Somerset House will be transformed by Studio Toogood using panels of stretched agricultural tarpaulin, neat stacks of bricks and fabric panels dyed with London clay.

Highlights will include: 

  • This year is the UK-India Year of Culture, and a new generation of Indian fashion designers will look to the Indian nomadic, pastoral lifestyle and create garments that respond to the global fashion industry’s ever-growing focus on sustainability. 
  • The Polish designers' exhibition will respond to the fact that €100 million of second-hand clothing is imported to Poland from overseas each year with the UK as one of the main exporters. Their designers will reuse and reinvent second-hand clothing, transforming it into new pieces. 
  • Ukraine’s will focus on a collective image of the fantastical bus stops found across rural Ukraine, which serve as both ad-hoc meeting places and liminal sanctums, ‘Wish You Were Here ’ reminds us that even the most familiar, everyday symbols can be sculpted and graffitied into something distinctly local. 
  • Next in Line - Dutch designer Liselore Frowijn's collection will be an homage to an old canal house in Amsterdam with beautiful C17th ‘Delft Blue’ tiles. Research on these tiles’ topography led Frowijn to visit the Japanese island of Kyushu, where Dutch-Japanese maritime trade of technological instruments for indigo and ceramics started some 400 years ago. Frowijn worked with local artists in the indigo workshops to develop her textiles.
  • Next in Line - South African designer Eleni Labrou of AKEDO will draw upon the cultural, linguistic and religious pluralism of South Africa and her own Greek and South African heritage in her ready-to-wear collection. Contrasting clean silhouettes with handcrafted prints and textures, AKEDO will challenge the narrow ethnocentric expectations of African design. 

Since 2012, 550 of the most exciting international designers from 70 countries have exhibited as part of the IFS initiative. IFS responds to London’s reputation for promoting and supporting new talent in the creative industries – a number of whom are working within Somerset House – by providing opportunities for designers from overseas to engage with the UK fashion community and build international connections.

A series of business support seminars, organised by London College of Fashion, will help designers prepare for the showcase. The Designer Support Programme will bring together a network of LCF affiliated academics and researchers, to offer mentoring opportunities and business development during IFS. A collaboration with Fashion Scout will offer designers involved in IFS the opportunity to show their work on the catwalk.

The IFS judging panel is headed by Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Chief Critic at Voguerunway.com. 

Sarah Mower commented: "In times of anxiety and increasing division, the International Fashion Showcase goes completely in the other direction, celebrating creativity, diversity and young ideas from all over the world. Since we founded this project in 2012, the social importance of the response has only escalated. This year's theme, which asks designers to look at what the local and the global means to them, has brought out uniquely inspired work which, as always, the public is welcomed to see. I'm proud that the six-year tradition of the IFS is a live example of London's vibrant culture of openness, and our thrill in discovering, promoting and exchanging new ideas." 

Sarah Mann, Director Architecture Design Fashion, British Council commented: “Since the inception of International Fashion Showcase we’ve seen how this platform has enabled young, emerging designers to launch their careers in London. We are really proud that being shown as part of London Fashion Week has resulted in many of the designers going on to show here and be nominated for some of the world’s most prestigious fashion prizes. This year’s exhibition is an exploration of identity and place which we hope will inspire a new generation of young designers to take local and global influences into their own work.”

* The 26 countries participating to the International Fashion Showcase are:  Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Netherlands, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Peru, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

The British Council and the British Fashion Council would like to thank Bonaveri, sponsor of Next in Line and official mannequin supplier to the International Fashion Showcase; our partners London College of Fashion and Fashion Scout for the mentoring and showcasing opportunities offered to the International Fashion Showcase designers; exhibition suppliers Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC and Retrouvius; and event supporters Warnsteiner.