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The Centre for Fashion Enterprise and Agi & Sam: How to launch your label

Designer Sam Cotton, co-founder of Agi & Sam, in conversation with Toby Meadows at LCF
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Published date
12 March 2014
Designer Sam Cotton, co-founder of Agi & Sam, in conversation with Toby Meadows at LCF

Designer Sam Cotton, co-founder of Agi & Sam, in conversation with Toby Meadows at LCF

As part of the London College of Fashion Graduate School Festival 2014, staged for LCF MA and Postgraduate students in order to prepare them for their graduate careers, Toby Meadows of the Centre for Fashion Enterprise hosted his Market Entry workshop.

A two day event held at LCF, the workshop enables students to gain an understanding of exactly what is involved in setting up and running a sustainable business in the contemporary fashion industry.

Toby Meadows introduced the program, talking about how problems faced by emerging fashion labels can be averted:

“Most of the time, the common issues faced by start up fashion businesses are avoidable. When you know the common problem areas before you start, you are more able to learn from other’s mistakes, so you don’t have to make them yourselves.”

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise at LCF helps emerging designers set up their businesses effectively, offering a variety of sponsorship and guidance, with many of the scheme’s benefactors going on to be incredibly successful; some of the most recognisable being Mary Katrantzou, Meadham Kirchhoff and Agi & Sam.

Sam Cotton, half of design duo Agi & Sam, who won the 2013 BFC Emerging Talent Award, attended the workshop for an ‘In Conversation’ with Toby. Sam opened up to the students about the reality of starting up a fashion business:

“The recession had just hit and it was hard to get a good job. Agi had been working at McQueen and everyone thought he would become a design assistant there, but it never came up. I sat down one Christmas and thought, if I don’t get opportunities, I’m going to start this thing with Agi. We’ll just start doing stuff – we’ll make it all about print and colour.”

The insight from Sam wasn’t the only piece of wisdom the students received. Also featuring in the workshop were several other key industry players. Martyn Robets (Director of Fashion Scout) delivered a talk on ‘Showcasing Your Fashion Label’, whilst Ravi Mattu (Deputy Editor of Financial Times Magazine) discussed the key qualities of successful entrepreneurs, and Guy Schragger (Founder of Supadupa) spoke about how designers can maximise their online presence.

The workshop aims to bridge the gap between University and the ‘real world’ of business. Universities allow students to design creative new garments, however, as Toby stressed, most fashion that sells is very ‘safe and boring’ in comparison. This workshop gives new designers the ability to understand the current market, enabling them to set up a successful and sustainable fashion business doing what they love.