Ones To Watch
British fashion schools are notorious for producing some of the worlds most talked about designers and each year about 10, 000 applications are made for only about 2, 000 available places at some of the most elite schools where the 3 to 4 year journey begins. The highlight of the year however is Graduate Fashion Week where the best universities show their best students. These are most times pointers to future design stars. This year we’ve picked the most interesting designers who we are betting on to join the likes of British trained designers like Matthew Williamson, Christopher Kane, JW Anderson & Ricardo Tisci.
Rachel Siggee (Nottingham Trent University), Age 23
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: I would honestly say I have a lot to thank my university for. During my 3 years at this university I had a lot of opportunities come my way which prepped me really well for my final year such as winning competitions and interning.
Before starting my 3rd year, I interned as a Menswear designer at Gap Inc in NYC for just over 2 months. After I come back and interned at LFW, then went to Paris for PFW so all of this was a good preparation. Alongside that, I was studying my hobby which was so rewarding for me to put all my creative ideas on to paper then into 3D.
What inspired your graduate collection: When I began to research into my concept for my collection, I began to find articles on androgynous dressing and the stigma that it was causing in the media. Menswear has been massively on the rise and I took the opportunity in my final year to be as creative as I wanted. I wanted to push a concept in menswear that traditionally, would of never been acceptable. Whilst developing my collection if found a lot out about myself regarding what I was more interested in doing for a career when I graduated, such as the hands on stuff like manufacture and print design. I loved the feeling that I got when designing my full printed coat. It was one of the most challenging things I did in my collection, trying to match the faces on every pattern piece but when I had accomplished this, it was the most rewarding thing! That sort of positive outcome makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.
What’s next for you as a designer: I am currently working for an online brand in Manchester designing menswear. I plan to progress and get hands on experience within the industry. I don’t want to be clique and say that I now want to have my own brand. Don’t get me wrong, if the opportunity arises then I would take it but for now I know I still have a lot to learn within the industry so that’s where I want to be.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: Make sure you have the passion and drive to be within this industry because it isn’t for the light hearted or idle. It’s not only a career but a lifestyle. If you are wanting to studying fashion or are currently studying fashion, I would advise you to get as much industry experience as you can, such as doing work placements. Even if it is for free! I always say, any experience is good experience because if you go on a work placement and don’t enjoy the job role then that helps you understand what you don’t want to do when you get into the industry fulltime but on the flip side it could be the making of your career.
Hannah Wallace (Manchester School of Art), Age 25
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: I’ve always been very determined and love what I do but I would have to say, the critic! I had to prove them wrong!
What inspired your graduate collection:
The uprisings of rioters against the government and astronauts have inspired my collection, especially the protective layers that are necessary to both individuals as they are thought of as second skins. I have used a vast variation of research to develop a collection that is interactive and insulated as well as breathable fabrics that enable flexibility and capacity in construction.
My research is an individually translated my research through design methods such as digital prints, scale and construction. The ability to combine combination of subculture, science and engineering and I have and individually recreate significant rebellions throughout history touch upon discovery, change, conflict, uprising, progression, innovation and protection. The courage and freedom in which a rioter possesses have influenced my eccentric designs.
Pluto Close is the name of my brand and was taken from a block of maisonette flats on a council estate. I chose the name because Space and Astronomy were one of many initial concepts so the connection was inexorable. I also wanted to reflect residential areas which were notorious for rebellions and upheaval within my research. The digital prints, logos and silhouettes in my collection have been inspired by the scale and layout of the architecture on the estate.
What’s next for you as a designer: I’m currently gaining as much experience in the fashion industry as possible, as I want to own my own clothing line but I need to know how it all works first. I’ve been applying for jobs and in my spare time looking into fashion business courses, sponsorships, investors and how I would go about building a brand.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: Patience and resilience against critic is vital because not everyone will understand or appreciate your style of work. Stay positive, organised and motivated, believe in yourself and never give up.
Nicole Whitmer-Bramble (UCA Epsom), Age 21
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course:
I wasn’t afraid to wing it sometimes and take chances along with challenging myself on a daily basis, but I also had a really good support team around me who would continuously push me and give me encouragement.
What inspired your graduate collection:
I looked at Sigmar Polke for the idea of double exposure, taking two elements and somehow making them connect, from there I was inspired by Gerhard Richter’s use of free-hand rendered paintings and really wanted to create my own surface textile style. For the silhouette I looked at Albert Kahn’s photography on Indian culture and really appreciated the effortlessness of wrapping and knots intertwined in the clothing. So I was trying to combine all of these elements but also keeping my own style and aesthetics through textile manipulation and creating a clean but tailored look with bold asymmetric patterns.
What’s next for you as a designer: I’ve recently graduated so I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’m currently interning trying to build my experience within luxury menswear and womenswear brands but also learn as much as I can about the design and production side. Ultimately I would like to develop a capsule collection whilst also doing collaborative projects.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: You have to love it and be really excited about what you do but also just stay positive and think of your final outcome and don’t be afraid to experiment!!
Ester Kubisz (Ravensbourne), Age 24
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course:
I would say definitely my determination.
What inspired your graduate collection:
The initial concept started as fascination by crowds and busy metropolitan streets. Somehow I wanted to depict this crowd’s movement and transform it onto a cloth. So I ended up with a lot of intersecting trajectories. Since this point everything started to link. The thought of a line led me to a pinstripe suit and there I was, in the City during rush hour among crowds of businessmen, rushing to chase their fortune.
What’s next for you as a designer:
I always desired to have my own business so at the moment I am setting everything up to be able to launch the label for A/W 16.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design:
Do not let anyone restrict you. Listen to your tutors but then it’s you who have to decide which of their advices and suggestions work for you. Concentrate on yourself and find what you looking for. But still keep in mind that you creating a product that you will (most likely) want to sell.
Heidi Stuttard (UCA Epsom), Age 23
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: Perseverance. When creating my collection I had ideas, samples, toiles, and fully finished garments which I either completely scrapped or tore apart and reconstructed. It was all part of my development process, to make a cohesive collection.
What inspired your graduate collection: My collection was largely inspired by Zen and Japanese silhouettes combined with ideas developed from western workwear and iconic garments (jeans, waxed jackets, military jackets). The timelessness and minimalism of many of the pieces designed at the Bauhaus with their industrial aesthetic and functionalism have inspired the collection. A particular influence has been Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair, with its clean lines and use of tubular steel and leather
What’s next for you as a designer: There’s a few of my friends I’d like to collaborate with in the near future. My plan is to find a job in a design role so I can gain industry experience. I also want to make some more of my own designs, I’ve been making a few things since I graduated, which has been keeping me busy. I’d love to have my own brand one day.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: My advice would be to take the bull by the horns and ride or die! Whilst studying fashion at uni I had to make a lot of sacrifices, like hobbies, having money, and a social life, but it allowed me to focus on my collection and it was totally worth it in the end. My other advice would be to save up as much as you can before making your collection so then that’s one less thing to worry about.
Maria Philippou (University of Salford), Age 21
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: hard work patience and support from family and tutors and of course love for fashion design?
What inspired your graduate collection: My collection was all about the lost innocent childhood of all those people running after money in their depressing grey tailored suits every morning. So I create animal prints and patterns in order to reflect the innocence – boldness of childhood and combine it with strict tailoring. I use animal figures because animals have a big part on a child’s development and education as they start understanding the world.
What’s next for you as a designer: I want to develop as a designer – artist and as an individual, broad my knowledge next to a creative and innovative design team.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: You must love and respect everything around fashion and art, It requires lots of work and dedication but in the end you always get to know joy.
Christopher Clarke (Manchester School of Art), Age 22
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: Great time management.
What inspired your graduate collection: A summer spent in San Francisco inspired me to research into the Beat Era, in particular the literature at the time. The poem ‘A Supermarket in California’ (1955) by Alan Ginsberg depicted his encounter with the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, a man infamously known for having a fictional homosexual relationship to the Surrealist Artist Salvador Dali. This narrative combined with Abstract Expressionism and beach aesthetic created a humorous, playful and colourful six outfit menswear collection. I also utilised my own fabrication; a combination of liquid latex and paint.
What’s next for you as a designer: Currently I’m on a year’s placement at TOPMAN as a design assistant. Right now I’m helping out on outerwear and I’m looking forward to starting on TOPMAN Design.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: I’d say to work hard, know your aesthetic, be determined and confident in your decision making and always take risks.
Nadia Kelly (De Montfort), Age 21
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: Being slightly unorthodox.
What inspired your graduate collection: The Surpression of the people of 80’s Liverpool under the Thatcher Government.
What’s next for you as a designer: As a designer I am always looking to expand into new skill sets and I want to spend some time learning a new craft and refining those skills to apply them in a new setting.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: Be true in your own mind of what you envision, whether it may seem crazy to everyone else or even to yourself, your gut instinct is your best friend.
Ella Nisbett (Nottingham Trent University), Age 25
What one factor would you say made you successful at your course: Focus and quiet determination.
What inspired your graduate collection: The Congolese Sapeurs and 1940s Zoot Suiters. I admire the way that in the face of adversity, these men used their sartorial flair to express their own unique identity and to stand up for what they believed in. I love their creativity in dress and confidence to celebrate the male body, confronting traditional ideologies of masculinity in society.
What’s next for you as a designer: Who knows?! It’s an exciting time; I know that I want to keep learning as much as I can.
What advice do you have for other people who would love to pursue their dreams and study fashion design: Love it! If you truly love it then go for it! Keep an open mind and listen to people’s advice, but also have confidence in your own vision and aesthetic, make decisions for yourself! Experiment, explore new things, especially with the freedom that studying brings, but also learn to recognise your strengths and play to them. Finally, always be curious and ask questions, I have found that almost everyone has something to teach you. I learn every day from the people around me and what might start out as a simple conversation can often turn out to be an ultimately invaluable lesson.
Words & Fashion: Terence Sambo // @TerenceSambo
Photographer: Mike Gripz @smithtownstudios
Models– Glen (FM), Brian (Select), Tyler (Select), Kwollem, Emanuel & Jake (Premier).
All footwear by G Star Raw