Award-winning designer in running for Louis Vuitton grant

Loverboy is a fashion brand founded by Charles Jeffrey, a Scottish-born fashion designer known for his gender-fluid designs. Lucca de Paoli speaks to Jeffrey and his studio manager Sam Thompson about how working in the borough is helping the business grow.

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A clothes shop in Thailand. Credit: Igor Ovsyannykov.

The 28-year-old Jeffrey was awarded the British Emerging Talent prize at 2017’s Fashion Awards and is shortlisted for the LVMH prize, a €300,000 grant awarded to a young designer. The award is prestigious and judged by fashion luminaries such as Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld.

“We feel very relaxed about it all,” said Jeffreys. “I’m just grateful to have been nominated; I know the stakes are high when looking at previous winners so to be included is a massive feat for me and my team.”

Jeffrey was nominated last year for the LVMH prize and is hopeful that he can go one better in 2018.

“Being nominated for a second time is hugely validating. Primarily it’s a really great opportunity to showcase some of the work we’ve produced in the last twelve months – which in our case includes two runway shows, an art exhibition and some editorial projects I’m really proud of.”

Loverboy moved to Hackney very recently, but the borough is very much the spiritual home of the business. While studying for a fashion MA at Central Saint Martin’s Jeffrey ran a club night at Vogue Fabric on Dalston Kingsland, using the money to help fund his degree.

The move to the London College of Fashion campus on Mare Street has plenty of other advantages too, as Thompson explains: “It is always helpful to be in a place where there are other people doing similar things. We used to be in Somerset House, which is obviously a wonderful building, but being in central London as a designer is not actually that helpful.

“In Hackney you have a lot of fabric shops—there is an excellent one across the road called Woolcrest. Having so many facilities in East London is really helpful for us; we are closer to our factory now as well.”

 

The business receives funding from the Centre of Fashion Enterprise (CFE) partnered with the LCF, which provides studio space for the brand. Partly funded by the EU, the CFE aims to help small businesses continue to grow.

“The CFE also provides mentoring” says Thompson. “We have 12 mentors with different areas of expertise who come in over the course of the year to help us with our business. For example, we have an accounting mentor who comes in once a month to help us. That help is all free and we are really grateful to be part of that project.”

Though Jeffrey has already achieved a huge amount of success, winning the LVMH prize would allow the business to move to another level.

“It’s undeniable that it would mean significant growth for us – for any young label. Nothing is a greater challenge at this stage than cashflow and resource so it’s an exciting prospect. Ultimately it would mean a bit of freedom – freedom for greater expression, bigger and better projects, flexibility and choice on a number of things.”