Jonathan Saunders has announced that he is closing is eponymous label, following his decision to step down as creative director of the brand for personal reasons. The company said in a statement that Saunders and his investor and business partner, Eiesha Bharti Pasricha, will officially shutter the brand once they honor orders from the Spring/Summer 2016 collection, which Saunders showed during London Fashion Week this past September - after 12 years in business.
Saunders, who launched his label in 2003 and received early support by way of the British Fashion Council/Vogue Fashion Fund, said: “It is not a decision that I take lightly and I am eternally grateful to my team for all their hard work and dedication,” said the designer. Bharti Pasricha, who also holds a stake in Roksanda Ilincic's brand, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting one of the most talented British designers of our times. Our decision to part ways was not easy and I wish Jonathan every success for the future.”
Paired with the closure of fellow British brand, Meadham Kirchhoff, earlier this year, Saunder’s decision to close up shop further signifies something we already know: The fashion business is a difficult one, especially for brands that are still in relatively early stages. Much is demanded from designers right off the bat; the market calls for a finished project, a global brand, a solid bottom line within a few seasons. And in a vastly sped-up market that currently demands that runway looks be almost instantaneously ready to be pre-sold online, outlandishly creative and innovative brands – and young brands – do not have the luxury of time to really focus on their vision, experience and learn their market, and form a solid foundation (that takes into account both their ultimate creative output and the unavoidable business realities).
This is something that an array of more seasoned designers have spoken about. For instance, in 2011, Antwerp Six member Dirk van Saene, who is known for his relatively subdued and elegant aesthetic, especially in comparison to some of the other Antwerp Six members, told Oyster magazine: "Fashion is such a huge investment, both financially and emotionally. You see that with young designers now. There’s hardly a chance to grow anymore. People expect you to be huge in three seasons only."
Unfortunately for Meadham Kirchhoff and now Jonathan Saunders, the fashion industry and fashion fans, the current model of fashion does not leave much room for young-ish fashion brands to come into their own.