At the last Paris Fashion Week, H&M once again demonstrated its professionalism: the Swedes not only sent the most fashionable models on the catwalk, celebrated the coolest party (live concert with The Weeknd), but also presented the best implemented see-now-buy-now concept. The efforts are reflected in countless reports about the show and a studio collection sold out after only few days. From such a company, young designers can only learn. And this is exactly, what the four winners of the H&M Fellowship program will do.
The program was launched together with the Fashion Council Germany (FCG) for the first time this year. After the announcement of the winners in mid-January in Berlin, the presentation of the collections at the Parisian luxury hotel Westin during the fashion week period was the first major international event within the framework of the sponsorship program. Here, the winners, Tim Labenda, William Fan, Anna Heinrichs with their label Horror Vacui and Sebastian Kaiser from Munich-based label Boulezar were offered the chance to present their collection to an international audience during the important Paris Fashion Week.
For two years, the four winners, selected from 100 candidates, are now accompanied by the big Swedish fashion group. What exactly does that mean? Lena Bremer, who is responsible for the fellowship program at H&M Germany, explains: "It is mainly about an exchange with experts. The winners can look behind the scenes with us. To be there, where H&M creates a design idea, where the products are manufactured, to see how the supply chain runs, warehousing or online marketing works. They can compare these structures with their own business plans and ask questions at any time to transfer and fit the gained knowledge into their own practice." Money is not flowing, only knowledge. And they get a real view of the enterprise: in Hamburg, the prize-winners learn about the logistic center, then go to the design department in Stockholm and to the production sites in Bangladesh.
One of the winners, Tim Lambenda, is very eager to travel: "I produce 100% in Germany. Especially for the sake of sustainability. But I'm very interested in how it works at H&M. And I would like to receive tips from H&M how to create an online shop in the right way." Anna Heinrich from Horror Vacui is also realist enough to know that she cannot compare her micro-company with an international group with 150,000 employees. "But I'm interested in how this is structured. And I have concrete questions about marketing, sourcing or building up a shop. How to design a shop window? Where do I hang goods so they can sell better? This is knowledge, I can also transfer to my very small enterprise."
Claudia Hofmann, co-founder of the Fashion Council Germany (FCG) and board member, stands by and nods: "This is exactly what we are about: uniting the fashion designers with the industry. They all have a different level and can take what they need from the workshops." For her, the FCG is also about giving courage to young creatives and proofing that there are lots of interesting designers from Germany.