Mercedes-Benz's commitment to fashion: Ten years of encouraging up-and-coming international designers

January 2019

Anniversary marked by new name and even more support: "Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program" becomes "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents".

Stuttgart. It was back in 2009 that Mercedes-Benz launched its International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP), aimed at promoting emerging talent in the world of fashion. The aim was to smooth the path for young, talented designers into their chosen profession, including outside their own home markets, and to support them in their international careers. Over the last ten years, Mercedes-Benz has given more than 90 designers an opportunity to stage a show on one of around 30 platforms. Quite apart from the straightforward exchange of up-and-coming talent, the intervening years have seen further supporting measures added to the scheme, which is why the programme is to change its name in this anniversary year to "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents".

Mercedes-Benz has been involved in the international fashion sector for 24 years now and currently has a presence at 80 fashion events. This commitment has evolved steadily over the years, adapting to the changes and new challenges faced by the fashion industry. In 2009 the focus switched to the promotion of exceptionally gifted young designers. The automotive manufacturer recognised that making a first foray into the international markets in particular is both an important career step and, at the same time, a major challenge for young fashion designers. For most young designers, getting a place in the highly sought-after show calendar and financing a show of their own represents a significant hurdle. So this is where Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents comes in. Thanks to its long-standing involvement in the fashion industry and as the title sponsor of a wide range of platforms, Mercedes-Benz has access to important fashion events all over the world. The key principle behind the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents programme is that designers change places to present in a different market, thereby also promoting variety. The programme will be extended in 2019 to encompass cooperation arrangements with fashion schools and organisations as well as media companies. Further elements of the programme include the support of designers in their home countries, along with long-term collaboration with individual labels.

The scheme has grown and flourished from the very start

The first presentations under the aegis of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents programme took place in July 2009 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. Showing here were the South African label Black Coffee and the Argentinian designer Pablo Ramírez, each the trailblazer of an aspiring fashion scene in their respective home countries and still successful to this day.

While the most regularly used platform in the early years of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents was Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, the involvement gradually extended over the ensuing years to include more and more countries. In 2010 Mercedes-Benz invited the designer Cora Groppo from Buenos Aires to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Mexico City. The emerging German talents Augustin Teboul, Michael Sontag, Vladimir Karaleev and René Storck showed at the 2011 NRJ Fashion Night in Zurich. By 2013 the Fashion Talents were already showing in Madrid, Sydney, Beijing, Stockholm, Milan, Zurich and Berlin, with London, Prague, Amsterdam, New York, Istanbul, Auckland, Moscow, Vienna, Tbilisi, Kiev and Budapest added to the list in subsequent years.

The year to feature the most shows so far was 2017, with 18 designers presenting on 15 platforms. In 2018 there were 13 designers over 11 platforms.

Benefits for the designers

The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents programme offers promising aspirants in the world of fashion a unique opportunity to present their collection to an international audience of journalists, buyers and experts outside their own home country. This approach guarantees increased attention from the press and on social media channels, as well as the chance to establish contact with thought leaders in this sector.

As part of the scheme, Mercedes-Benz assumes the costs for the design, production and implementation of the presentation. The designers are also offered the support of a range of experts when putting together their show and with respect to marketing and press matters. In some cases the markets will offer additional mentoring programmes or even grants.

The principle behind the support

The exchange programmes are undertaken in collaboration with the representative offices of Mercedes-Benz around the world. These will identify promising young talents in their respective countries and put them forward for an exchange. If two platforms prove suitable for a direct exchange, this will take place within six to twelve months of the fashion weeks being scheduled.

Example: In September of 2018, the Georgian designer Ani Datukishvili showed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul. The return match saw Sudi Etuz from Turkey showing her collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi that same November.

A guest appearance is also possible, for which both a sending and a receiving platform are required. Example: Madrid sent Maria Cle Leal to MBFW Amsterdam 2016.

What the designers say

Julia Seemann: "The support from Mercedes-Benz was crucial to the development of our brand. Having our own runway show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin was a chance to take the brand to a whole new level, to present our work to an international and carefully selected audience and to get coverage in the most important media."

Steven Tai: "Receiving this support from Mercedes-Benz means so much. It changed my life! The show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, just after I'd finished my degree, opened up an international platform that I could never otherwise have dreamed of. This experience gave me the courage to set up my own label."

Wataru Tominaga: "I feel so much more confident presenting my work since getting the support from Mercedes-Benz. Berlin was the first time in my life I'd had a show of my own. It was so exciting to show my creations to everyone in Berlin - it's one of my favourite cities. It's always a huge motivation to appear in front of such a large audience, particularly in Europe."

Cooperation with leading fashion organisations

International Festival for Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères

Since 2012, Mercedes-Benz has been a partner of the International Festival for Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères. One of the winners of the festival is invited to Fashion Week in Berlin the following July. Prominent examples: Steven Tai (China), Satu Maaranen (Finland, now Head of Design at Marimekko), Roshi Porkar (Austria, now a designer for Kenzo) and finally Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh (Netherlands, now Creative Directors at Nina Ricci).

International Fashion Showcase (IFS)

The IFS takes the form of a series of installations during London Fashion Week. Established by the British Council and the British Fashion Council, it has been providing a stage for talented designers from all over the world since 2012. Through its partnership with the IFS, Mercedes-Benz was able to facilitate presentations in London in 2017 for the five Fashion Talents Angel Chen, Anna K, David Ferreira, Steven Tai and William Fan. The brand also invited the winner of the Designer Award, the South Korean Younchan Chung with his label the-sirius, to the Milano Moda Donna in September 2017.

Fashion Council Germany (FCG)

Since 2017 Mercedes-Benz has been a member of the Fashion Council Germany, an organisation that represents the interests of fashion 'designed in Germany', with a strong focus on promoting up-and-coming talent. This membership is a logical complement to the Fashion Talents, since its focus is firmly on boosting the home market, Germany, while at the same time encouraging interaction with other platforms. In January 2018 Mercedes-Benz was also a supporting partner to Fashion HAB, initiated by the FCG as part of Berlin Fashion Week. The Halle am Berghain (HAB) that gave its name to the event saw designer Damir Doma, in cooperation with the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (National Chamber of Italian Fashion), present his collection in Germany for the first time.

Award programmes in the context of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents

Several platforms and markets have instigated award programmes of their own as a means of identifying and promoting Fashion Talents. In a transparent award process, juries made up of prominent fashion industry experts select the most promising among the emerging designers. The award winners are then invited to join the Fashion Talents programme and to present in a different country. The winner of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talent Awards in Madrid for instance, Xavi Reyes, was invited to MBFW in Berlin in January 2016, while Tereza Kladosova, winner of the Talent Awards during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Prague, was able to show her A/W collection 2016 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Madrid.

Fashion Talents x Fashion Story

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents are regularly featured prominently in the Fashion Stories of the #mbcollective campaigns. The protagonists in the campaign "Generation Now, Generation Next" in 2017, for example, wore creations by Steven Tai, Ran Fan, William Fan and Younchan Chung, while the #WeWonder campaign of 2018 featured the labels Nobi Talai and William Fan.

Cooperation at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

Since 2012, the automotive manufacturer has presented the Fashion Talents shows during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (now MBFW) in Berlin in January and July in cooperation with the fashion magazine ELLE. Both brands are keen to promote up-and-coming talent, joining forces to identify the most promising talents. The collaboration is currently on hold due to restructuring measures being undertaken by both parties.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents has also collaborated with DER BERLINER SALON at the Kronprinzenpalais. A group exhibition initiated by Fashion Talents included the German-born designer duo Felder Felder as well as Gesine Försterling, who won the Chloé Prize at the Hyères Festival. The same venue was also used for shows by Vanessa Schindler and Julia Seemann.

Facts & Figures

  1. Exchange Platforms since 2009

MBFW Berlin (formerly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin)

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico City

NRJ Fashion Night Zurich

Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week

Stockholm Fashion Week

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/MADE Sydney

Milano Moda Donna

Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

Amsterdam Fashion Week (formerly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Amsterdam)

New York Fashion Week

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul

New Zealand Fashion Week

 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia

MQ Vienna Fashion Week

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi

Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days

Budapest Central European Fashion Week (formerly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Central Europe

  1. Labels/Designers

Black Coffee (South Africa)                

Designer: Jacques van der Watt

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2009                       Currently: independent label

Awards: SA Fashion Award (2001, 2007), Mercedes-Benz Art Award 2009

A-Lab (Italy)                                        

Designer: Alessandro Biasi                             

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2010 Currently: independent label

Cristiano Burani (Italy)

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2010 Currently: independent label

Cristina Miraldi (Italy)

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2010                      

Mauro Gasperi (Italy)                         

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2010 Currently: independent label

Paolo Errico (Italy)                             

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2010 Currently: independent label

Cora Groppo (Argentina)                    

Platform: MBFW Mexico 4/2010                     Currently: independent label

Jesus Ibarra & Bertholdo (Mexico)

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2010                      

Camilla Norrback (Sweden)

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2011 Currently: label dissolved

Diana Orving (Sweden)                       

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2011 Currently: independent label

Awards: Designer of the Year 2017 award from ELLE Sweden

Ida Sjöstedt (Sweden)                          

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2011 Currently: independent label

Iris van Herpen (Netherlands)           

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2011 Currently: independent label

Awards: Johannes Vermeer Prijs 2017, Grand Seigneur Award 2017, STARTS - Grand Prize of the European Commission 2016, Marie Claire Prix de la Mode 2015, ANDAM Awards Grand Prix, Mercedes-Benz Dutch Fashion Awards 2010

Pablo Ramírez (Argentina)                

Platform: Stockholm Fashion Week 8/2011    Currently: independent label

Dorothee Schumacher (Germany)      

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 10/2011    Currently: independent labe

Michael Sontag (Germany)                

Platform: NRJ Fashion Night Zurich 11/2011 Currently: independent label

René Storck (Germany)                      

Platform: NRJ Fashion Night Zurich 11/2011 Currently: independent label

Augustin Teboul (Germany)

Designers: Annelie Augustin, Odély Teboul

Platform: NRJ Fashion Night Zurich 11/2011 Currently: label dissolved

Vladimir Karaleev (Germany)            

Platform: NRJ Fashion Night Zurich 11/2011 Currently: independent label

Wang Yutao (China)                                    

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2012 Currently: independent label

Steven Tai (China)                              

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2012 Currently: independent label

Awards: Chloé Award at the Hyères Festival 2012

Yu Amatsu (Japan)                              

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2013 Currently: Creative Director at Hanae Mori Manuscrit

Wang Peiyi (China)

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 2/2013            

Awards: Mercedes-Benz China Young Fashion Award

Gabriele Colangelo (Italy)                  

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 3/2013      Currently: independent label

Easton Pearson (Australia)

Designers: Pamela Easton, Lydia Pearson        Currently: label dissolved

Platform: MBFW Australia/MADE Sydney 4/2013 (local MB presents show)

Satu Maaranen (Finland)                   

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2013 Currently: Head Designer RTW, bags           and accessories at Marimekko

Awards: Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision at the Hyères Festival 2013

Mimi Plange (Ghana/USA)                

Platform: Stockholm Fashion Week 8/2013    Currently: independent label

Awards: Designer of the Year/Mercedes-Benz Africa Fashion Week 2012, Mayor Bloomberg's Design Entrepreneurs Award 2012

Alejandra Quesada (Mexico)              

Platform: MBFW Berlin 9/2013 Currently: independent label

Pepa Salazar (Spain)                           

Platform: NRJ Fashion Night Zurich 11/2013 Currently: independent label

Alena Akhmadullina (Russia)           

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2014 Currently: independent label

Petra Ptáčková (Czech Republic)       

Platform: MBFW Berlin 2/2014 Currently: independent label

Simon Gao (China)                             

Platform: London Fashion Week 2/2014 Currently: independent label

Awards: Best New Designer of the Year, Mercedes-Benz China Young Fashion Award, Esquire Designer of the Year 2012

Preen (Great Britain)                          

Designers: Justin Thornton, Thea Bregazzi     

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 3/2014      Currently: independent label

Awards: Winner "Established Designer" at the British Fashion Awards 2015

Carla Zampatti (Australia)                

Platform: MBFW Australia/MADE Sydney 4/2014 (local MB presents show)

Currently: independent label

Ernesto Naranjo (Spain)                     

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 5/2014      Currently: independent label

Roshi Porkar (Austria)                       

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2014 Currently: Womenswear Designer at Kenzo

Awards: Chloé Prize at the Hyères Festival 2014

Klûk CGDT (South Africa)                  

Designers: Malcolm Kluk, Christiaan Gabriël Du Toit

Platform: MBFW Madrid 9/2014                     Currently: independent label

Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award and African Designer of the Year 2011 and 2012, Best Red Carpet Designers at the Africa Fashion Awards

Paper London (Great Britain)             

Designers: Kelly Townsend, Philippa Thackery

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2015 Currently: independent label

Ran Fan (China)                                 

Platform: New York Fashion Week 2/2015    

Ellery (Australia)                                

Designer: Kym Ellery                                      Currently: independent label

Platform: MBFW Australia/MADE Sydney 4/2015 (local MB presents show)

Annelie Schubert (Germany)

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2015 Currently: label dissolved

Awards: Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision at the Hyères Festival 2015

Maria Cle Leal (Spain)                        

Platform: MBFW Amsterdam 7/2015              Currently: independent label

Awards: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talent Award, Vogue Who's On Next, Mango Fashion Award

Xavi Reyes (Spain)                              

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2016 Currently: designer for Zara in         Barcelona

Xiao Li (China/Great Britain)            

Platform: London Fashion Week 2/2016 Currently: independent label

Awards: Pitti Filati "Feel the Yarn" Award, Loro Piana Award, International Support Diesel Award

Teresa Kladosava (Czech Republic)

Platform: MBFW Madrid 2/2016                    

Mehtap Elaidi (Turkey)                      

Platform: MBFW Istanbul 3/2016 (local MB presents show)

Currently: independent label

Ela Fidalgo (Spain)                             

Platform: MB Prague Fashion Week 3/2016   

Mary Katrantzou (Greece/Great Britain)

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 3/2016      Currently: independent label

Awards: British Fashion Award for Emerging Talent 2011, Young Designer of the Year at the Elle Style Awards 2012, Vogue Designer Fashion Fund 2015

Toni Maticevski (Australia)               

Platform: MBFW Australia/MADE Sydney 5/2016 (local MB presents show)

Currently: independent label

Awards: The Australian Fashion Laureate Award 2016

Wataru Tominaga (Japan)                  

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2016 Currently: independent label

Awards: Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision at the Hyères Festival 2016

Harman Grubiša (New Zealand)        

Designers: Madeleine Harman, Jessica Grubiša

Platform: New Zealand Fashion Week 8/2016 (local MB presents show)

Currently: independent label

Marina Hoermanseder (Austria)        

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 9/2016             Currently: independent label

Awards: Premium Young Designers Award, Start Your Own Fashion Business Award 2014, First Mentee of Fashion Council Germany, Vienna Fashion Award 2015, Madonna Woman of the Year Award 2016, Iconist Young Icon Award 2017

William Fan (Germany)                     

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 9/2016             Currently: independent label

Zyanya Keizer (Netherlands)             

Platform: MBFW Madrid 9/2016                     Currently: independent label

Anna K (Ukraine)                                

Designer: Anna Karenina                               

Platform: MBFW Madrid 9/2016                     Currently: independent label

Awards: Design It competition at the Mercedes-Benz Kiev Fashion Days, youngest member of the Forbes "30 under 30" in 2017

Nobi Talai (Germany)                         

Designer: Nobieh Talaei

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 9/2016             Currently: independent label

Milk (Austria)                                     

Designer: Nicole Komitov                                Currently: independent label

Platform: MQ Vienna Fashion Week 9/2016 (local MB presents show)

Lardom (Russia)

Platform: MBFW Russia October 2016           

Gareth Pugh (Great Britain)               

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 11/2016    Currently: independent label

Awards: ANDAM Fashion Award 2008

Miro Sabo (Slovenia/Czech Republic)

Platform: MBFW Tbilisi 11/2016                     Currently: independent label

Julia Seemann (Switzerland)              

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2017 Currently: independent label

Angel Chen (China)                            

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 2/2017 Currently: independent label

Awards: Fashion Scouts' Ones to Watch Award

David Ferreira (Portugal)                   

Platform: IFS London Fashion Week 2/2017   Currently: independent label

Awards: VFiles Made Fashion, Merit Award Fashion Scout London, Les Etoiles Mercedes-Benz

Elena Rial (Spain)                               

Platform: MB Kiev Fashion Days 2/2017        

Blikvanger (Georgia)                          

Platform: MBFW Madrid 2/2017                     Currently: independent label

Situationist (Georgia)                         

Designer: Irakli Rusadze

Platform: MB Prague Fashion Week 3/2017    Currently: independent label

Vivetta (Italy)                                      

Designer: Vivetta Ponti

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 3/2017      Currently: independent label

Dion Lee (Australia)                           

Platform: MBFW Australia/MADE Sydney 5/2017 (local MB presents show)

Currently: independent label

Juan Carlos Pajares (Spain)               

Platform: MBFW Tbilisi 5/2017                       Currently: independent label

Gesine Foersterling (Germany)          

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2017 Currently: Designer on the OAMC team (Luke Meier) for Jil Sander

Awards: Chloé Prize at the Hyères Festival 2017

Vanessa Schindler (Switzerland)       

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2017 Currently: independent label

Awards: Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision at the Hyères Festival 2017, Mercedes-Benz Master award from HEAD Geneva 2016

Jan Cerny (Czech Republic)               

Platform: MBFW Amsterdam 7/2017              Currently: independent label

Merel van Glabbeek (Netherlands)    

Platform: MB Kiev Fashion Days 8/2017         Currently: independent label

Áeron (Hungary)                                 

Designer: Eszter Áron

Platform: MBFW Madrid 9/2017                     Currently: independent label

The-sirius (South Korea)                    

Designer: Younchan Chung

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 9/2017 Currently: independent label

Awards: IFS 2017 Designer Award

Outsiders Division (Spain)                 

Designers: David Méndez Alonso, Alberto Perancho, Ales Gallifa

Platform: MBFW Central Europe 10/2017 Currently: independent label

DB Berdan (Turkey)                            

Designers: Deniz and Begum Berdan

Platform: MBFW Tbilisi 11/2017                     Currently: independent label

Peter Dundas (Norway)                       

Platform: MB China Fashion Week 11/2017    Currently: independent label

Callisti (Austria)                                 

Designer: Martina Mueller-Callisti

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2018 Currently: independent label

Babukhadia (Georgia)

Platform: MBFW Madrid 1/2018                     Currently: independent label

Atelier Kikala (Georgia)                     

Founder: Mamuka Kikalishvili, Creative Director: Lado Bokuchava

Platform: MBFW Madrid 3/2018                     Currently: independent label

Vozianov (Ukraine)                            

Designer: Fedor Vozianov

Platform: MB Prague Fashion Week 3/2018    Currently: independent label

Celia Valverde (Spain)                        

Platform: MBFW Tbilisi 5/2018                       Currently: independent label

Botter (Netherlands)                           

Designers: Rushemy Botter, Lisi Herrebrugh

Platform: MBFW Berlin 7/2018 Currently: Creative Directors at Nina          Ricci

Awards: Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision at the Hyères Festival 2018

Adam Kost (Czech Republic)              

Platform: MBFW Madrid 7/2018                    

Tiziano Guardini (Italy)                     

Platform: Milano Moda Donna 9/2018 Currently: independent label

Awards: Franca Sozzana GCC Award, Peta Couture Award

Ani Datukishvili (Georgia)                

Platform: MBFW Madrid 9/2018                     Currently: independent label

Brand Who (Turkey)                           

Designers: Volkan Güzelce, Koray Arıcı         Currently: independent label

Platform: MBFW Istanbul 9/2018 (local MB presents show)

Elena Suprun (Russia)

Platform: MBFW Istanbul 10/2018 (local MB presents show)

Sudi Etuz (Turkey)                              

Designer: Sansim Adali

Platform: MBFW Tbilisi 11/2018                     Currently: independent label

Amesh Wijesekera (Sri Lanka)                   

Platform: MBFW Berlin 1/2019 Currently: independent label

Zuzana Kubickova (Czech Republic)

Platform: MBFW Madrid 1/2019                     Currently: independent label

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents on social media: #MercedesBenzFashion

@MercedesBenzFashion, #MercedesBenzFashionTalents

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