The winners of the Vanguard Education Fund, created by NET-A-PORTER in partnership with the British Fashion Council have been announced. In its second year of running, the prize is awarded to final-year fashion students studying at both American and UK universities, providing financial support and guidance as they start their careers.

Central Saint Martins made a strong showing, with all four winners – Christopher De La Cruz, Izzy McKinlay, Tahar Al-Shekhly and Tj Finley – having just graduated from the London-based university.


Each participant will receive a £12,500 bursary, 3D garment design training and two handpicked mentors for the academic year. The judging panel this year included Perfect Magazine creative director Jeanie Annan-Lewin, NET-A-PORTER market director Libby Page and our own Caroline Issa.

TJ explored queerness and working class identity in his animalistic collection while Izzy took inspiration from Australian landscapes with sculptural silhouettes and accessories that curved with body shapes. Tahar explored masculinity in all its spectres with a sophisticated graduate collection, and Christopher’s joyful use of colour in their inventive knitwear pieces is set to already take customers by storm.

In a statement, Net-A-Porter’s Libby said “We are delighted to announce this year’s winners of The Vanguard Education Fund and are excited to provide the students with the tools, mentorship, and much-needed financial support at this pivotal time as they begin their professional careers.”

Caroline told us “Seeing so much raw talent, poised to either launch their own brands with unique perspectives, or continue to explore using fashion as a medium for what they want to put out in the world… all of them were immensely talented and it was so difficult to only award four winners. But the four winners are so deserving of some extra support and mentorship and I can’t wait to see what all of their futures hold.”

Congratulations to the finalists and winners! Read more about it over on NET-A-PORTER