British menswear designer Bianca Saunders has emerged the winner of the ANDAM Fashion Award 2021. She won for herself €300,000 and a year of mentoring from Balenciaga president and chief executive officer Cédric Charbit.
In a statement, Saunders revealed plans of using the funding to take her brand to the “next level” by reinvesting in company infrastructure, growing brand presence internationally, and hosting her first physical catwalk show on the official fashion week calendar.
In her reaction to the win, Saunders said: “I can’t put into words how thrilled I am to receive such a prestigious award and I am truly honored. Mentorship from such a key player in the industry, plus financial support like this will help me focus on growing my business and realizing my lifelong dream - establishing Bianca Saunders as a global fashion brand.”
Stating the basis for Saunders win at the competition, Charbit, added: “Bianca Saunders presented a solid and unique project anchored in the now and today’s values. I would like to sincerely thank ANDAM and all the jury members for this choice which contributes unveil future successes and opens up our industry to broader horizons.“
The internationally acclaimed Grand Prize award celebrates young fashion talent that is exclusively open to a designer, of any nationality, but the designer must own a French company or willing to establish a sustainable business in France.
This year’s Grand Prize didn’t go without all contestants putting up their very best for a coveted win at the competition. Saunders was up against fellow London-based designers Grace Wales Bonner and Rokh, as well as New York-based Area, Casablanca founded by Charaf Tajer, Paris-based designer Ludovic de Saint Sernin, and Berlin-based GmbH, from design duo Serhat Işık and Benjamin A. Huseby.
Meanwhile, the Pierre Bergé Prize, which focuses on young French companies, was awarded to EgonLab, a brand founded in 2019 by Florentin Glémarec and Kévin Nompeix. The duo wins €100,000 and mentorship from Sophie Delafontaine, artistic director of Longchamp, to help them structure and grow their brand internationally.
Delafontaine said: “I am proud and pleased to offer my support and expertise to two young talents as Kevin Nompeix and Florentin Glémarec for EgonLab. I am very impressed by the incredible energy spread by all these upcoming creative entrepreneurs.
“I am delighted that Paris keeps being a breeding ground for such a young, dynamic, multicultural and international creativity like M. Pierre Bergé used to consider and value.“
The Accessories Prize, with a worth of €50,000, was won by Paris-based leather goods maker Sonia Ahmimou for her label Aswad. As winner Ahmimou will receive one-year mentorship and the personal guidance of Giovanna Engelbert, fashion editor, stylist, and Swarovski’s creative director, and be given access to the Swarovski teams to support the development of her brand.
Engelbert added: “This year’s Accessories Prize winner, Aswad, has a unique voice, viewpoint, and sense of wonder that we can’t wait to support and nurture over the next year of mentorship.”
Bianca Saunders, EgonLab and Aswad join Finnish start-up Spinnova as 2021 ANDAM winners after it was announced in June as the AMDAM Innovation Award winner for producing 100 percent sustainable textile fibre directly out of FSC-certified wood and waste streams without dissolving or other harmful chemical processes. Spinnova will receive €50,000 and a one-year mentorship from Yann Gozlan, founder and president of Creative Valley.
Established in 1989 by managing director Nathalie Dufour, the ANDAM French fashion awards is supported by the French Ministry of Culture and DEFI (Committee for the Promotion and Development of the French Fashion Industry), as well as private sponsors including Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloe, Foundation Pierre Berge, Yves Saint Laurent, Galeries Lafayette, Google, Hermes, Kering, Lacoste, Longchamp, LVMH, L’Oreal Paris, OTB, Premiere Classe, Swarovski and Tomorrow.