Andrew Kenny, owner of The London Embroidery Studio, has been announced as one of the winners of the inaugural BFC Changemakers Prize.
Organised by the British Fashion Council in partnership with Swarovski, the initiative aims to “discover and celebrate the fashion industry’s unsung stars who go above and beyond to strive for positive change, make outstanding contributions and inspire others on their journey”.
Andrew won the prize in the category of “Community & Craftsmanship” because of the work at his studio in east London where he and his team use traditional skills to generate new exciting techniques with cutting-edge embroidery machines.
The BFC applauded him for “marrying new technology with the exportation of new techniques” and for offering courses to the local community, often with discounts for disadvantaged people and those on a low income.
Andrew said: “Winning this prize means so much for me and my team. Being recognised by such a hallowed institution as the British Fashion Council for the work that we do is a real honour – and one that we craftspeople, working behind the scenes in fashion, rarely receive. This makes it all the more special.
“High-end fashion embroidery, even machine embroidery, is incredibly laborious, and so building an embroidery company where everything is made in-house has been a difficult thing to do.
“I was determined to do it because I’m incredibly passionate about the making and promotion of my craft, and to be rewarded for it by the BFC and Swarovski – a brand whose products we use so regularly to create our work – feels like an incredible achievement and I’m extremely grateful.”
The London Embroidery Studio has been creating bespoke embroidery from its east London base since 2007, offering production and consultancy services alongside classes and research.
The other two winners of the BFC Changemakers Prize are John Hickling, founder of vintage and remade clothing provider The Glass Onion in South Yorkshire, in the “Environment” category, and international hair stylist Cyndia Harvey who won the “People” category for her work championing the visibility of underrepresented groups of society and the needs of Black women and Black hair.
The prize was open to anyone working in the fashion industry, celebrating and promoting inclusivity, individual achievement and innovative thought. Entrants were nominated by colleagues, peers, employers and businesses.
Having received over 500 entries, the panel of judges shortlisted nine finalists from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines before selecting the three winners.
Chaired by BFC chief executive Caroline Rush and Swarovski creative director Giovanna Engelbert, the judging committee included some of the British fashion industry’s most inspiring and influential names including: Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief, at British Vogue and European editorial director of Vogue; Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief at Elle UK; Ib Kamara, editor-in-chief at Dazed; Jo Ellison, editor of the FT’s How to Spend It and deputy editor of FT Weekend; models and activists Lily Cole and Munroe Bergdorf; and fashion television personality Tan France.
Caroline Rush at the BFC said: “What is really exciting about the BFC Changemakers Prize in Partnership with Swarovski is the ability to provide these leaders of the future with the support and recognition to continue to ignite their dreams.
“Our hope is to facilitate them with their incredible work, allowing them to continue to actualise their aspirations for the industry.
“As a brand and partner for the BFC Changemakers Prize, Swarovski is also committed to championing individuals in the creative industries with the unique ability to ignite dreams, create positive change and inspire others on their journey. We look forward to seeing all our Changemakers ignite their dreams.”
Giovanna Engelbert at Swarovski added: “Swarovski has stepped forward with a bold vision for the future; it’s mission is to ignite dreams. The brand is true to Daniel Swarovski’s founding spirit as a radically inclusive laboratory of creativity that invites the world to celebrate their individuality.
“As partners of the British Fashion Council on the Changemakers Prize, we are delighted to be able to bring this vision to life by shining a light on individuals who through their unique creative approaches and values have not only ignited their own dreams but also those of others.
“Their work will have a lasting positive impact and succeed in creating a new, positive narrative in fashion.”