LFW: How Mark Fast is adapting to the changing London fashion scene

Mark Fast, the Canadian-born, London-based luxury knitwear designer, showcased his 2024 collection at London Fashion Week (LFW), featuring a mix of knitwear, coats, dresses, and interstellar style. Fast, who is best known for his sexed-up knitwear, spoke to FashionUnited about his journey and challenges in the London fashion scene, and how he is evolving his brand and business.

Mark Fast: A regular at LFW for over a decade

Mark Fast made his LFW debut in 2013, as part of the On|Off platform, which supports emerging and independent designers. He quickly gained attention and recognition for his innovative and diverse knitwear, which used a unique technique of handcrafting and blending yarns of different weights and textures. He also made a statement by using plus-size models in his shows, challenging the norms and standards of the fashion industry.

London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week

Since then, Fast has become a regular at LFW, presenting his collections twice a year to the media and buyers. He has also collaborated with other brands and celebrities, such as Topshop, Swarovski, Christian Louboutin, and Nicki Minaj. He has also expanded his product portfolio, offering menswear, unisex pieces, and accessories, in addition to his signature womenswear.

Fast has a loyal customer base and a strong presence in the UK and international markets. He sells through his own e-commerce platform, as well as various wholesale and online channels, such as Net-a-Porter, Selfridges, and Farfetch. He also operates a flagship store in London’s Soho, which opened in 2019.

Mark Fast: Facing the challenges and changes in the London fashion scene

However, Fast has also faced some challenges and changes in the London fashion scene, which is known for its creativity, diversity, and dynamism, but also for its competitiveness, volatility, and uncertainty. Some of the factors that have affected Fast and his brand are:

  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted the fashion industry and forced many designers and brands to rethink their strategies, operations, and models. Fast had to adapt to the new reality of digital and hybrid shows, reduced orders and budgets, and changing consumer preferences and behaviours.
  • The departure of the UK from the European Union, which created new barriers and complications for the fashion industry, especially in terms of trade, tariffs, regulations, and logistics. Fast had to deal with the increased costs and delays of exporting and importing his products, as well as the potential loss of access and opportunities in the European market.
  • The evolution of the LFW format and structure, which changed from a traditional and seasonal model to a more flexible and inclusive one, allowing designers and brands to showcase their collections at any time, in any format, and for any gender. Fast had to adjust to the new LFW calendar and platform, and to the increased competition and diversity of the participants.

Fast said that he has learned to cope with these challenges and changes, by being resilient, adaptable, and optimistic. He said: “I don’t believe in instant success, seasonal must-haves. They are all too instant and erratic. So I guess ignoring them and keep doing what you’re doing and keep going where you want to be is a successful plan for me.”

Mark Fast: Evolving his brand and business for the future

Fast also said that he is evolving his brand and business for the future, by focusing on his strengths, vision, and values, and by exploring new opportunities and possibilities. He said: “I am always looking for new ways to express myself and my brand, and to connect with my customers and fans. I am always open to new collaborations, new markets, new platforms, and new technologies.”

For his 2024 collection, Fast was inspired by the work of industrial designer and architect Joe Colombo, best known for his futuristic designs of the 1960s. Fast said: “I wanted to create a collection that reflects the spirit and style of Colombo, who transformed ordinary objects into extraordinary pieces and pushed the boundaries of living spaces.”

The collection featured a range of knitwear, coats, dresses, and jumpsuits, in various colours and patterns, and with interlocked chain adornments. The collection also had a 60s-inspired interstellar style, with metallic and holographic fabrics, and accessories such as sunglasses, gloves, and boots.

Fast said that he is proud of his collection and his show, which he described as “a celebration of creativity, innovation, and glamour”. He said: “I think this collection represents who I am and what I do best, which is creating beautiful and sexy knitwear that makes people feel good and confident. I think this collection also shows how I am adapting and evolving to the changing London fashion scene, which is always exciting and inspiring.”

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