In our latest Underground Session, we explored the future of fashion together with a panel of voices who are in the know: Dr. Ana Roncha, Course Director at London College of Fashion; Marina Guergova, Founder of luxury silkwear brand Marina London and The Basics Store; Rob Jones, Co-founder of luxury label Teatum Jones; and Gabriella Nassif, Co-Founder of fashion PR agency MGC London.

On a snow-chilled February evening, our panelists gathered in a cosy chapel in the heart of Soho, a space at the House of St. Barnabas – a not-for-profit members club and charity pledging to break the cycle of homelessness in London – to share advice on what it takes to make it in the industry.

Just off the back of Spring/Summer 2018 fashion week, our panelists began by sharing their personal experiences of the mad rush of fashion weeks passed, as well as what’s exciting them in the industry today. With news of the Queen, for the first time in history, attending London Fashion Week hot off the press – the photos of her sitting front row at Richard Quinn’s runway show next to Anna Wintour dominated front page news – Gabriella Nassif spoke about what it was like to be the PR person to pull together such a historic moment for the fashion world. This comes at a time where we’re seeing drones toting handbags down the runway instead of humans and new backstage photography rules are being instigated to protect models while they change.

Asked what helps fashion designers keep up, season after season, both Rob Jones and Marina Guergova agreed that authenticity is the single most important ingredient for success. Now more than ever, where everything we do is shared online and global competition is fierce, designers who find their individual aesthetic, stay true to their craft and communicate what they stand for are those able to build a loyal customer base. To independent entrepreneurs who are just starting on the fashion scene, their advice is to start small, create realistic outcomes for their brand and build a strong support system of collaborators.

Dr. Ana Rocha talked about how important it is to develop these principles early on, sharing how today’s fashion education encourages students to find their aesthetic as well as collaborate with students from other departments.

Community and collaboration, not just with others in fashion but especially with other industries, is something our panelists feel is incredibly important for tomorrow’s industry– whether collaborating with other designers to start a pop-up store, as Marina has done with The Basics Store, or thinking beyond the box to embrace “intersectionality” on the runway.

When it comes to activism and sustainability, the fashion industry at large still has a way to go, our panelists admit. Hopes are high, however, for a younger generation of designers to take the baton and ruffle the industry's feathers.

Words by: Lisa Roolant