The Wick - Clara Mercer The Wick - Clara Mercer
Monday Muse

Interview British Fashion Council’s communications mastermind, Clara Mercer

Interview
Clara Mercer
12 February 2024
Interview
Clara Mercer
12 February 2024
Clara Mercer has spent more than 15 years on the front line of fashion in the UK. As Communications Director at the British Fashion Council (BFC), her goal is to champion British fashion on the world stage by focusing on relentless innovation and taking charge of the growth and amplification of the industry.

Her role sees her wear many hats, from creative director and curatorial advisor to brand manager, at the same time as masterminding digital strategy and innovation. She also plans major events and programmes, including London Fashion Week (LFW), which celebrates 40 years this year.

As the great LFW machine fires up for its next outing this week, Mercer took time out of her hectic schedule to tell us about how it is evolving, her own fashion inspirations and how the art and fashion worlds are constantly intertwined.

THE WICK:   As someone who is immersed in the fashion industry, where do you look for your own wardrobe inspiration?

Clara Mercer:   My style is changeable and depends on my mood. I don’t buy much but I buy well and constantly rediscover things in my wardrobe. I am lucky to see amazing collections and attend the shows at LFW, so I am inspired by the designers who constantly innovate as well as style icons, and people in the street. I also have stylish friends who keep me on my toes.

TW:   Which innovation are you most excited about at London Fashion Week this year?

CM:   This year we will see an evolution of LFW. In June, we will be redefining menswear and creating a curated schedule of 40 moments, with the format being specific to the designer or brand taking part. We hope that it will be a unique experience for individuals from around the world to experience London. More to follow…

TW:   You studied an art foundation course at Wimbledon School of Art followed by Fashion Marketing at Northumbria. How have you seen the worlds of fashion and art converge over the years?

CM:   As we celebrate 40 years of LFW, we have been looking at the archives and the role that fashion plays at the intersection of culture. Fashion designers are inspired by so many things and the cultural references that they pick up on often challenge the status quo and give us an insight into the future. This came to life at the recent BFC NEWGEN exhibition, REBEL: 30 years of London Fashion, sponsored by Alexander McQueen, that has just closed at the Design Museum and was visited by over 10 thousand students, inspiring the next generation.

If you look at the archive of the past 40 years of London Fashion Week, creativity is the superpower and collaboration sits at the heart of this – from inspiration to craftsmanship to muses and icons. Fashion and art have a long history of converging and in some ways that is where the excitement happens. On Wednesday we will launch the LFW40 Love Letter to London, written by the musician Femi Koleoso of Ezra Collective, which is a great example of this.

TW:   If you could own any museum painting or artwork, which would it be and why?

CM:   I have been thinking a lot about Degas’ ballerinas recently. Colourful bows against tulle tutus – heaven!

“Our role is to convene the industry to build an ecosystem that will bolster the next generation of talent to strengthen UK creativity.”

TW:   As a Londoner, what’s your favourite spot for the culturally curious?

CM:   It’s funny, even though I have lived in London for 20 years, I don’t think of myself as a Londoner – I always approach the city as though I’ve just arrived. It’s the diversity of each area that inspires me – each has a different feel, tribe and energy. Cycling helps to stitch them together. If I had to pick one area, it would be Soho, which is the heartbeat of London for me.

TW:   The British Fashion Council champions creativity at all levels. Tell us about your initiatives to mentor emerging talent.

CM:   The BFC is a not-for-profit organisation focused on the growth, innovation and amplification of the British fashion industry. We champion British fashion on the world stage by pioneering world class programmes that unlock and elevate British creative talent. The BFC has been supporting talent for over 30 years through scholarships and talent support schemes, including BFC NEWGEN, The BFC/Vogue and BFC/GQ Fashion Funds and BFC Fashion Trust – all supported with a programme of business mentoring. Grants are awarded based on both financial need and excellence. BFC NEWGEN is the most established, having supported over 300 designers in the last 30 years.

Our role is to convene the industry to build an ecosystem that will bolster the next generation of talent to strengthen UK creativity. The BFC’s initiatives are funded through the BFC Foundation Charity, which supports the future growth and success of the British fashion industry.

TW:   What is your main advice for emerging designers?

CM:   Challenge the status quo, collaborate and never give up.

TW:   Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?


CM:   I am still thinking about the speech and the work of the brilliant actor, filmmaker and poet Michaela Coel, who was winner of the Pandora Leader of Change Award at 2023 The Fashion Awards. She is endlessly inspiring.

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