The Countdown to Fashion Week – According to the Industry’s Fastest Moving Start-Ups

Karen Topacio

Karen Topacio

LONDON, United Kingdom – The fashion industry is known for its fast paced, unforgiving nature, and with each season we see a host of new trends, all of which are competing for our attention. The sector is especially cut throat when it comes to emerging brands just waiting to burst onto the high fashion scene, and whilst most start-ups in this arena may falter, there are two brands with two very different objectives currently counting down to London and Paris Fashion Week.

We’ve spent a day in the life of Karen Topacio, a self-titled fashion label just starting out, and The Clothing Lounge, an initiative that aims to offer a helping hand to lesser known designer brands, as they prepare for Fashion Week events on both sides of the Channel.

À la mode

With an already celebrated Filipino-Australian designer at its helm, label Karen Topacio has earnt more column inches and credits than most since its foundation. Karen in fact only graduated from IFA Paris, where she studied an MA in Fashion Design, in January 2015. Fast forward one year and she is currently preparing to take her innovative, crisp yet fun and playful designs to Paris Fashion Week.

“As we started out in July last year, we are very aware of just how new we are so it is important for our brand to participate in events, no matter how small or big. So far all the events we have done in Paris and London have been very helpful in expanding our PR network and building our following,” said Karen.

“The preparation that we undertake for each and every event, including those at Paris Fashion Week, is weeks if not months in the making and we produce all prototypes at our Paris based headquarters. As for the communication part, this is integral to our success and is done by our team who are mostly based overseas.”

London calling

Born out of the founders’ own frustrations at being unable to browse just one destination for great new brands, The Clothing Lounge may have very different ambitions but with London Fashion Week fast approaching, their schedule is just as jam packed.

“LFW is paramount to us networking and meeting other people in the industry as well as connecting with the up and coming designers that we aim to represent. We have also forged a relationship with the British Fashion Council who are very supportive of us as a brand,” said co-founder Keleigh Johnson who partnered with Samantha Burke to establish The Clothing Lounge in 2014.

“This year, along with the interviews we will be conducting, we are also putting together a street style campaign which involves a roster of different photographers scoping out individuals which are reflective of our style and ethos. These will be featured across our social media platforms quite heavily during London Fashion Week.”

Life as a fashion start-up

Despite having very different roles, both on the catwalk and behind the scenes, both brands have faced their own challenges when establishing their talents, as Karen explains.

“As a young brand, we are working on a small budget. However, as most of the events we have participated in were arranged through collaborations, we get the added bonus of not needing to fork out for expensive fees. There are some challenges as more often than not these collaborations get confirmed at the last moment so we often have to prepare everything within a short period of time. We have a small team but we are lucky to have a lot of people in our network who are always ready to help.”

“In a world full of conformism it is a real struggle to be unique and not a carbon copy of one another. This fact helps us overcome the challenges that we encounter every day as an emerging business in the fashion industry,” concluded Keleigh.

Brittany Thorley About the author

As a self-professed keeper of wisdom and words, Brittany is passionate and almost fanatical about bringing the lesser known designer brands to dedicated followers of fashion everywhere. The FG Magazine is just one outlet for such things, whilst she spends much of her time musing across the net at The Clothing Lounge.