Martyn Roberts and Biljana Poposka-Roberts, United Kingdom – BigSEE Visionary 2020

Mr. Martyn Roberts and Mrs. Biljana Poposka-Roberts, an excellent visionary team, have been selected to achieve the BIG SEE VISIONARY AWARD 2020 for their outstanding work in the field of international fashion development as well as their positive influence on evolving fashion design in the region of South East Europe. Their strong vision, global approach and dedicated passion render possible freedom and opportunity for emerging designers who are consequently better able to express their vision and build brand awareness. They both respect and appreciate young designers, thus promoting creativity and enthusiasm in the world of young fashion designers. Mr. Martyin Roberts is a FASHION SCOUT Founder and the Creative Director, and Mrs. Biljana Poposka-Roberts is the Company Director. Their FASHION SCOUT is renowned for championing, nurturing and showcasing innovative and creative design talents from all around the world. It is also the UK’s largest independent showcase for emerging and well-established design talents during the London Fashion Week. The FASHION SCOUT SOUTH EAST EUROPE competition project is first of its kind in this region that really supports young promising fashion designers from South-East Europe and it makes their dreams possible by opening doors for the best one(s) of the London Fashion Week’s runways.

Fashion Scout has played a crucial role in the launch and presentation of a generation of designers, including Iris Van Herpen, Gareth Pugh, Peter Pilotto, David Koma, Eudon Choi, Pam Hogg, Phoebe English, Roberts|Wood, Angel Chen, Xiao Li, Anna K and Anna October.
Apart from detecting the brightest British talents, Fashion Scout provides unrivalled platforms for industry selected international designers and collective showcases, including those from China, Scandinavia, Middle East and South-East Europe. FASHION SCOUT in numbers;

28 Seasons as an unrivalled platform for emerging designers.

840 Designers are members of the Fashion Scout family, with participants from 70 countries across the globe.

16,800 Looks have walked the Fashion Scout catwalks.

130K People follow Fashion Scout across our social media platforms.

With more than 13 years’ experience in producing over 400 catwalk shows, the Fashion Scout teams are renowned for their professionalism and scouting abilities, managing and producing hundreds of boundary-pushing highly acclaimed events. For eight years, Martyn Roberts was also appointed the Managing and Creative Director of the largest showcase of fashion graduates in the world, Graduate Fashion Week. Featuring graduates from 90 universities from across the globe, GFW is the world’s largest event for fashion graduates and attracts 30,000 guests to its annual event. During his tenure, GFW won the patronage of Dame Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Bailey, Diane von Furstenberg and Nick Knight, signed LVMH, Givenchy, Ralph Lauren and many others as sponsors, and has helped thousands of graduates secure jobs in the industry. Martyn and Biljana are also regular attendees of international fashion weeks and members of numerous judging panels, including the International Fashion Showcase at London Fashion Week. In 2016, the International Woolmark Prize awarded Fashion Scout the esteemed status as an Official Nominating Body for 37 countries. FASHION SCOUT grants two awards, namely the MERIT AWARD and the ONES TO WATCH award. The MERIT AWARD is a fully sponsored show during London Fashion Week, and the ONES TO WATCH award is a partially sponsored show supported by Fashion Scout.

Curator of the award: Meta Megušar Bizjan


Prepared by Meta Megušar Bizjan, the award curator
Portrait photo: Jure Makovec

How did the Fashion Scout showcase get started? What were the Fashion Scout showcase beginnings like? Did you two also meet at the time when the Fashion Scout showcase was launched?

During his successful career in Fashion PR, Martyn Roberts realized that emerging designers were struggling to find suitable venues to showcase their work that offered high-end production  at an affordable price,. Detecting this gap in the market, he set-up his first project in a historic London car-park, which attracted international designers as well as hugely reputable audience from the industry and the media. The success of this first season proved the need for a creation of a regular and bigger platform.

In the  second season, the platform took residence in a location known as the headquarters of the Scouts, where the name Fashion Scout was born.

Martyn and Biljana: We met through friends and very quickly realized that we both share a deep love of fashion and  creative industries. It was few years after we met that Fashion Scout was incepted.

What did you think of each other when you first met? What were your feelings when you first saw each other?

BPR: The first time I saw him I thought he was really hot, but he was with a girl and I assumed he was “taken”. Little did I know, to my delight, he wasn’t, so next time we met at a party we hit-it off instantly. It was only in the early hours of the morning, when we realized that we practically didn’t speak to anyone else at the party but each other. That was a great sign and the next day we met again, and again…

MR: I had noticed Biljana a while before we first met – she was very beautiful and stylish.  It took ages to arrange for us to talk – I had to re – arrange the seating plan at a party to ensure that I sat next to her.  The rest is history…..

Biljana, you are from North Macedonia and Martyn from New Zealand. Why did you decide to live and work in London?

BPR: My interest in the creative industries and fashion from an early age as well as my explorative mind and attitude drove me to try London, moving on my own when I was 19, to the very shock of my parents and dear ones. I was a young person with no family in London, so I was definitely faced with some challenges, but I also met some wonderful people who shaped my character and introduced me to the world of fashion.

MR: As a young person growing up in New Zealand I loved books and read a lot about the music scene. I also had a great passion for natural sciences and went on to study Genetics at a University in New Zealand. During that time, I ended up working my way in  the college radio station and later on organizing gigs. This is where I realized that I very much enjoy organizing events and love working with creatives. I took a year to travel around Asia, and then London seemed like the most attractive choice to explore the next chapter of my life.

Did you have any childhood dreams about your future work? Is your life now different from your childhood expectations?

BPR: When I was very young I really wanted to be a make-up artist. At that time, I used to read about successful make-up artists in Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana and dreamt that one day I could study to become one. There were no higher education institutions in Macedonia at the time for studying make-up artistry and the profession wasn’t really a “thing” when I was growing up, so I had to wait until, years later, I got to London to explore some of my passions.

MR: I grew up in a small town in New Zealand and there wasn’t much information or knowledge about fashion.  It was only after I moved to London that I discovered my true life calling.

FS abouta

Why did you decide to initiate the FASHION SCOUT SOUTH EAST EUROPE regional competition?

We have done a large number of international collaborations and have scouted for talents in many countries. Martyn is a regular guest at fashion weeks around the globe and had previously been invited to Macedonia and Serbia for their fashion weeks and gave panel discussions and mentoring for young designers. Following our first visit to Belgrade we met Nenad Radujević, the founder of Belgrade Fashion Week and his colleague Andrea Varga.  We also met the amazing Melinda Rebrek, the Founder of Ljubljana Fashion Week.

We were impressed by the creative talent in the region, but we also realized that following the collapse of Yugoslavia,  the countries didn’t have a joint platform to communicate and promote their domestic design talent which would also give designers an opportunity to grow and expand their business internationally. Aware of the lack of funding and the understanding of the scope and impact the fashion industry has on the economic growth, we realized that it is something we would like to support. After some lengthy discussions with the key fashion week representatives in the region, we came up with the idea of Fashion Scout SEE and offered to sponsor a place for one winner on our platform during London Fashion Week.

This regional fashion hub was initiated four years ago in collaboration with Belgrade Fashion Week and Ljubljana Fashion Week as a promotional platform to showcase the potential of the fashion industry in the Balkans and the design talent of the area, giving them access not only for regional, but also for global recognition.

Photo: Jean Luc Brouard

How are, in your opinion, South-East European fashion designers different from designers coming from the rest of the world? Do South-East European fashion designers have anything in common? Are there any typical features that South-East European designers share?

We always see a large variety wherever we travel and there are always gems to be found, this is why we love what we do so much. In the SEE region we see lots of inspirations from the rich traditions and techniques and we love seeing those being explored in a modern way, much like Nevena Ivanović who was one of our past winners.

Martin and Biljana with Adrien Perry Roberts and Hilary Alexander (Belgrade Fashion week)

What was the strangest thing that happened to you while working with fashion designers?

One time we held a party organised in cooperation with a well-known media publication, but somehow the invitation ended up shared on the social media. We ended up with a queue of nearly 1,000 very trendy young people who had spent ages dressing up in the most weird and wonderful outfits. Our heart broke, when we had to say the venue was full to the 100’s left in the queue. Ohhhhh, and the time when a designer wanted to bring a live horse and a live eagle on the stage!

Photo: Jure Makovec

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The ability to offer Merit and Ones to Watch awards and sponsor so many designers who have gone to be hugely successful and globally recognized brands and fashion leaders.

Photo: Jure Makovec

What was the crucial or milestone experience in your life that made you realize you had the power to do something meaningful for the world of fashion?

For a number of years, we ran a showroom in Paris during the sales seasons. We were the first international platform to recognize the talent that was coming from Ukraine, and we brought numerous emerging designers to our showroom. One evening we hosted a drinks reception for them and Ana Wintour and Hamish Bowles came to the party, as they had heard about the designers we were showcasing. That was the moment we realized we were changing the industry on a big scale.

If you could change anything about yourself now, what would it be?

BPR: Meet Martyn earlier and started Fashion Scout then J

MR: That signed Banksy print that I almost bought for Billie in his very early days.

What always brings smile on your face?

Front row always full of media representatives and journalist all wearing black whilst writing about the next trend or colour we will be wearing.

When scouting for emerging designers, are you a hunter or a gatherer?

Definitely both. We enjoy hunting and Martyn has a brilliant “nose” for talent, but we also know the industry is vast and we regularly receive hundreds of applications from designers around the world.

What is your advice for young fashion designers? How can they be more authentic and recognizable? What qualities do they need? Is there the right formula for success?

Success is such a subjective matter. We all seek it, but sometimes measuring it can be lost in translation. Staying true to yourself is the most important thing, but secondly it is the resilience and proactiveness that shall pay off. In the day and age when we have so much choice and free information, it is important to never stop learning and not be afraid to re-invent and try new things.

Do you think that the link between art and fashion is underestimated? Was that the reason why you decided to organize a fashion show in cooperation with Runway Gallery which was exhibiting Beutalist artists at Fashion Scout during the London Fashion Week SS20?

The correlation between the two is deeply connected, it is a very much like a longstanding love affair. Often the connection raises eyebrows and can be a topic of lengthy debates, but we see it everywhere from the paintings of the Old Masters and the influence and detailing of the fashion in those times to the modern artists such as Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garçons who have used art as an inspiration.  Nevertheless, their designs can also be considered works of art, often expressing and exploring their ideas of gender, identity, politics, religion.

From the very beginning, we were truly enthusiastic about working with Runway Gallery and besides, we were really impressed by their Beutalist movement.. It was a perfect project to celebrate the “love affair” and promote the artists who are inspired by fashion and introduce them to our global audience.

The spring edition of Fashion Scout and so many other fashion shows were postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Is the future of fashion still promising? What will survive or, in other words, do you think we will turn to more practical designs or will we have the need for more beauty and glamour?

Since our last event during the February’s London Fashion Week, we have all witnessed an unprecedented global turmoil, disturbing many lives, families, businesses and creative minds.

We have witnessed how our industry has been shaken further by daily insecurities, loss of jobs and the economic crisis affecting our countries.

We have also witnessed an enormous amount of resilience, community spirit, sense of togetherness and a rise of flexibility in working practices, which has been reassuring to many, confirming that together we can all get through this and discover positive practices to continue and nurture our creativity. We have all learnt to adapt, appreciate the world more, and still continue to create work that we as well as others find fulfilling, whilst at the same time delivering successful and happy future.

Fashion is turning more inwards, with localism being a big trend. Another trend we are seeing is shopping less, but better quality and seasonless collections. Designers have had to scale down on the sizes of their collections and create smaller capsule collections. We have seen how fashion has survived in extremely challenging situations which have resulted in great creative achievements and we believe that the current situation will be no exception.

Photo: Jure Makovec

Photo: Jure Makovec

Photo: Jure Makovec

Photo: Jure Makovec

Photo: Jure Makovec

Photo: Jure Makovec


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