Nominees like Emilia Wickstead, Mother of Pearl, Osman, Prism, and Sophia Webster waited in anticipation to hear who won the annual British Fashion Council/Vogue Fashion Fund prize for 2016. But it was Sophia Webster who came out on top. On Tuesday evening, the ceremony took place at the Bulgari Hotel in London, and Webster was inevitably crowned as the recipient. She received 200,000 pounds to go toward her London-based footwear business as well as support from mentors for one full year.
At the deciding end of the announcement was a fabulous panel of judges, including names like Alexandra Shulman, Joan Burstein, Samantha Cameron, and Victoria Beckham, who also showed an international business plan. The process of the fashion fund was video recorded and uploaded to British Vogue’s website and on YouTube.
As always, the fund was sponsored by Burberry, Harrods, Paul Smith, Topshop, and Vogue, and marks the seventh year for the fund from its first award given back in 2009. Webster now is able to join the ranks of past recipients, like Christopher Kane, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood, and Peter Pilotto. And this is not a matter that she takes lightly.
“It feels amazing!” she told British Vogue with a grin. “I’m so shocked; I still can’t quite take it in. This will just make such a massive difference to our business. The store is next on the agenda, we only just got the keys last week so that’s our next focus. After that, our team is growing and we’ve really outgrown our space so next will be a new office. It’s incredible!”
So much can change for a business with that substantial amount of money, but hosting the title of BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund victor does even more than that. Shulman, editor at Vogue, took the time to speak with British Vogue as well, to touch on why Webster was chosen as this year’s recipient. “Sophia Webster is a great winner for this year’s award,” she said. “The brand encapsulates all the originality and creativity that British fashion is known for, while Sophia and her team have pursued a clear vision with drive and professionalism.”
There is something else quite remarkable about Webster’s award, in that she is only one of two footwear designers to have won the award, with 2013 recipient Kirkwood being the first. But Webster’s plans inevitably wowed the judges and won them over, and CEO of the BFC Caroline Rush also was one to voice her words of good wishes when prompted by British Vogue.
“Congratulations to Sophia Webster who has deservingly received this year’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund,” Rush said. “The judging committee was impressed by her brilliant talent and thorough business acumen; seeing great potential for developing her label into an internationally acclaimed British brand. Sophia has an amazing ability to turn accessories into masterpieces, and we are thrilled to support her at an exciting time of growth.”
With such supportive words and great financial gain, there is no reason to doubt Webster will do great things with her business. With this new title under her belt, the company will likely get a great deal of new business, especially in the short-term. So cheers to Webster for her exciting win, and we look forward to seeing what comes of her new status.
Photo courtesy of WWD