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Making It in Fashion With Mikey Trapstar and Susie Lau

07/08/2013 15:16 BST | Updated 06/10/2013 10:12 BST
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We all know how quickly fashion changes, from season to season, trend to trend; what's flying off the rails one day is filling the clearance bucket the next. But, to make a lasting impression on the industry isn't just about the creativity you bring, but your determination and steadfastness to carry on when the odds are stacked against you.

Two stylish game-changers who are more than aware of this fact are legendary urban streetwear designer Mikey Trapstar and world-renowned fashion blogger Susie Lau, who are now lending their support to #shinebright, a new initiative to help some aspiring creatives climb up the sartorial ladder.

Mikey - who co-founded the London label loved by Rihanna and Cara Delevingne - knows all too well the difficulties of breaking into the industry, and understands the narrow platform isn't limited to fashion. 'I feel it's as difficult as any desirable industry such as sport, music and entertainment. To break into any of them you've got to be consistent, work hard and know how to pick yourself up after you've been knocked down.'

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For Susie, her way in, was her own design, starting an online platform (Style Bubble) to showcase her talent, which turned out pretty well for the blogger who is now considered one of the leading fashion voices in the UK and across the world.

'I didn't do the normal run of internships, assisting etc.,' Susie remembers. 'I started my fashion blog in 2006 when fashion blogging was still in its gestation period and it was always supposed to be a hobby alongside my day job of digital advertising.

'The blog then grew and I was then tapped to work for Dazed & Confused as editor of DazedDigital.com - that was my first "break" in the industry but it wasn't something I necessarily sought out. I wouldn't say I've had a difficult path but it's definitely been an odd one. '

So now the two will become mentors, sharing their years of experience of writing, designing and navigating the fashion landscape, but who were those pillars of wisdom for Mikey and Susie?

'I've had so many mentors and still do,' Mikey says. 'From designers who've been there before me, to the tramp on the street who tells me how he lost it all and how I can avoid the same thing happening to me. I ask a lot of "stupid questions" so I'm constantly learning.'

Susie's influences come from both the people around her, and those she's actually never met: 'I had a combination of people who helped me along the way either through interacting with them in person or just existing as role models.

'Diane Pernet - whose blog I looked up to and admired for its point of view - and Jefferson Hack of Dazed Group who gave me my first opportunity to work in the "industry" as it were.

'Being a fashion blogger is a bit isolated,' Lau explains. 'There is no one really physically mentoring you. Thankfully people have been very kind in the virtual world. Even a tweet from people like Justine Picardie or a mention by Suzy Menkes perks me up immensely.'

Both cultural entrepreneurs agree that the opportunities for aspiring creative are few and far between, but for Mikey, thanks to the World Wide Web, they now have the freedom to go their own way: ' There's a big door open for new designers to make their own rules and pave their own way without help, and that's mainly come from the internet.'

But what is clear from the fashion industry, is that it's not for the weak-hearted, so for a person trying to make waves, having 'it' isn't just about a good eye for fashion.

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Mikey believes that 'work rate, consistency and passion' are key to longevity but also patience, which is 'a new one I'm just learning myself.' But for Susie, trying to pinpoint the upcoming designers who are hoping to make an impact, it's more about that gut feeling.

'With a designer, I can normally "feel" it quite instinctively,' Susie tells me. 'It's not necessarily an aesthetic thing but it's the way they execute their work and the way they have conviction in what they're doing. With stylists and photographers, again because it's so saturated, when someone's work is really unique and standout, it does make you sit up and pay attention.'

So now Mikey will be offering young designers the chance to showcase their designs in a fashion pop-up store in London, as well as offering them the inside track on launching their own fashion brand: 'It's my turn to do the right thing and bring some new blood in, to keep the circle of life going and give a new brand the stepping stone to the next level.'

And Susie will be offering one-to-one mentoring and the chance to work with her at London Fashion Week. 'I've never taken on an intern or have anyone help me out on the blog,' Susie muses. 'I don't think of myself as a role model or a potential mentor so it was incredibly flattering that Glacéau vitaminwater thought I could take on that role.

'Plus, I got to dress up as a sunflower, have fun with the stylist Anna Trevelyan and photographer Matt Irwin. Fun!'

As someone working in a similarly narrow industry myself, I can appreciate how exciting an opportunity it would be to work with two stylish game-changers like Mikey and Susie, so for those aspiring creatives at the infancy of their fashion career, why not do more than appreciate, and get involved by heading to www.vitaminwatershinebright.com

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Photo of Mikey Trapstar by Seth Fluker

Photo of Susie Lau courtesy of Susie Lau