Local Label From Britten Awarded Top Fashion Prize

Originally written May 2013

Normally overshadowed by its female counterpart, menswear took centre stage at the LMFF National Designers Award this year, with Melbourne label From Britten receiving the top prize.

The brothers behind the label, Alexander and Tom Britten-Finschi, beat out tough competition from the other finalists Kathryn Beker, Lui Hon, Michael Lo Sordo and Livia Arena.

Both Lui Hon and Michael Lo Sordo were nominated for last year’s award.

The winners were presented with the award at a private breakfast held in the Melbourne Tiffany and Co’s flagship store last Wednesday as part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

The sought after prize included a Tiffany and Co trophy, $10,000 cash and legal and business support for 12 months as well as editorial support from Harper’s Bazaar.

Mentor (and mother) Melbourne bridal designer Linda Britten was “very proud” of the boys, adding that the award would set them off and help them achieve the next level of their business.

“Obviously they’ll get lots of support and assistance from LMFF and the industry that will hopefully get them where they want to go,” she said.

For the first time in the award’s history, the finalists will also receive $2000 to help their growing businesses.

The prestigious award is designed to honour designers in their first five years of business and who have demonstrated the innovation and motivation required to make it in the industry.

It is widely regarded as an indication of the next big thing in the Australian fashion industry with past recipients including Josh Goot, Romance Was Born, Yeojin Bae and Dion Lee.

The finalists presented their designs to a judging panel that included last year’s winner Christopher Esber, LMFF Chief Executive Officer Graeme Lewsey and Harper’s Bazaar fashion features editor Clare Maclean.

Four of the five finalists were from Victoria, including two RMIT alumni, Lui Hon and Kathryn Beker.

Finalist Michael Lo Sordo said Melbourne was a very “tuned in” city that responds well to fashion and understands trends.

Despite not winning, having the industry recognize his hard work was wonderful, he said.

“We’re at the growing stages of our business and it’s a struggle but [to be a finalist] is a blessing in itself.”

“Its so wonderful to connect with designers that are in the same boat as you and to support each other is really, really important. I commend everyone for being a finalist – I love them all.”

Livia Arena is only 2 ½ years into her business and as a first time finalist was “humbled”, adding she hoped to “be back next year, if they’ll have me!”

With a background in Science, her collection played with the idea of optical illusions, with laser-cut leather skirts and tops tying together a few concepts of light, negative space and the transposition of colour.

This was probably the most defining moment of her career, she said.

“This is the first season that I decided to design for myself instead of just designing for a market, so it’s really special to have recognition based on that.”

Livia Arena, From Britten and Michael Lo Sordo showcased their collections in various L’Oreal Paris Runways to fashion insiders and the public throughout the fashion festival, which took over Melbourne last week.

Running for 16 years, the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival showcases Australia’s established and emerging designers in a week of runway shows, beauty workshops, pop-up events and industry forums and seminars.