Recent graduates from Northumbria University’s fashion programmes are to have their work showcased during a series of events, organised by the Graduate Fashion Foundation and taking place throughout London Fashion Week.
More than 20 students will have their portfolios and designs put before leading fashion industry representatives during six days of events taking place at Coal Drops Yard in London this week and next.
They include a digital portfolio exhibition, pop-up showroom of students’ collections, a film of students’ work, and a live-streamed catwalk show.
The events, which have all been organised to comply with Covid-19 restrictions, will give Northumbria’s new fashion graduates the valuable visibility they need to begin conversations and establish connections with potential recruiters, buyers, stylists and media.
During the event, the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF) Awards will also be presented, with three Northumbria graduates among the winners.
Sarah Williams will receive the Range Plan Award, Katie Gedling will pick up the Sportswear and Leisurewear Award, and Megan Andrews will receive the Digital Portfolio Award – the second year in a row a Northumbria student has won this particular category.
The awards are normally announced during Graduate Fashion Week in June, but this year’s event had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.
Among the students selected to have their work showcased during the GFF Coal Drops Yard event is Fashion BA (Hons) graduate David Bell. His collection, entitled The Power in Femininity, will feature in the exclusive catwalk event, as well as within the exhibition and showroom. It will also appear in a film which will be featured as part of London Fashion Week’s digital schedule.
After finishing his final year of University in lockdown, and missing out on the opportunity to show his collection at Graduate Fashion Week, David said showcasing his work in front of some of the fashion industry’s most important players was a huge boost to his career.
As he explains: “I feel like I've been given a sort of second chance to show the skills I've developed over the past four years at Northumbria. I've worked really hard with the end goal in the back of my mind to show my final collection to potential industry experts at Graduate Fashion Week. I continued working on my collection throughout lockdown with the hope of an opportunity like this coming along. The Graduate Fashion Foundation have amazing industry links that could potentially help get a dream job or starting a label of my own. Overall, I feel grateful and hopeful for what opportunities this could lead to, I'm also super excited to watch my looks walk down a Catwalk!”
As well as being selected for the GFF events, David’s work is also due to feature on the front cover of Grazia magazine in the coming months – an opportunity which came about after he won a competition by fashion website SHOWstudio during lockdown to be interviewed by fashion industry professionals.
As David explains: “Amongst the interviewing panel was Fashion Director of Vogue Hong Kong, Anya Ziourova, who has continued giving me advice and support since graduating. Most recently, offering me the most amazing opportunity to feature my collection on a cover shoot of Grazia UK. I shipped two of my looks and accessories to New York where they were styled and shot by Anya and the Grazia team. I am beyond grateful to SHOWstudio and Anya for giving me such huge industry exposure.”
Also selected to have her work showcased during the Coal Drops Yard exhibition and showroom events is Fashion Design and Marketing BA (Hons) graduate Mica Keating. Her work draws inspiration from her hometown of Wakefield and the historic role the mining industry has played there.
In particular she focuses on how the mining women of the Georgian era were portrayed, as she explains: “These women were labelled as ‘unfit mothers’ and ‘a disgrace’ simply for wearing trousers. My work therefore is heavily feminine with oversized typically male silhouettes. I included corsets and feminine finishes as these women still wore corsets and skirts to work down the pits. Such beautiful handmade pieces worn for a hard-labour job, for which they were paid less than half what men were paid. All the males in my family are miners and the town is known for its mining heritage and male heroines, however, the women are often forgotten and I certainly never learnt about the women of the trade, therefore I felt it was almost a duty to show them in a positive light.”
Work by fellow Fashion Design and Marketing BA (Hons) graduate Alicia Hill will also be featured during the event. Her Looped 2020 commute wear brand was inspired by the challenge of getting from destination A to B. Her Looped launch collection, ‘Retro Futurism’, fuses fashion from the 1970’s dance scene with the futuristic personality of the year 2050.
Speaking about the opportunity to showcase her work, Alicia said: “Despite this not being the year we had expected, after all of our main graduate events were cancelled, I am thrilled that this event has been re-arrange under the new circumstances. Huge brands and industry employers will be attending this showcase, I am hoping this will provide me with an opportunity to spotlight my work alongside some of the best 2020 graduates at such a well-respected event.”
Commenting on what the opportunity means to the graduating class of 2020, Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) Fashion Emma Jane Goldsmith said: “Being part of London Fashion Week is such an incredible showcase for Fashion at Northumbria. Our graduates of 2020 finished their collections and portfolios during lockdown and have created some outstanding and thoughtful work. They really do have the ability to shape and change the future of fashion and we hope potential employers recognise this. Our students are all part of our ‘Fashioned up North’ brand, which aims to demonstrate the rich creative resource here in Newcastle. The success of our students in this year’s GFF Awards is just another example of this talent and we’re incredibly proud of them all.”
Fiona Raeside, Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Marketing, added: “The recent pandemic has demonstrated to us just how resilient and innovative our students are in working around problems. We are so proud of their commitment to their studies in the face of adversity and their ability to find new and innovative ways of working. The GFF showcase event at London Fashion Week will show visitors and industry how our students are embracing environmental and socio-cultural changes as well as adapting to new consumer needs. Going forward this academic year, we are ready and excited to work with industry through live projects and industrial placement, as well as getting our graduates ready for employment.”
Hilary Alexander, President of the Graduate Fashion Foundation said: “Despite the premature end to their degrees, the cancellation of their degree shows and Graduate Fashion Week, the Class of 2020 have shown immense resilience and creativity and have created inspiring work across multiple disciplines that deserves to be seen and celebrated. I am delighted that Samsung KX have given us this wonderful opportunity to showcase them in such a spectacular style and it’s a pleasure to set up home in Coal Drop’s Yard this London Fashion Week.”
The events taking place during the Class of 2020 at Coal Drops Yard event are:
Private Industry Digital Portfolio Exhibition – 21 September. A digital exhibition of student portfolios will take place within the Samsung KX experience space at King's Cross. The exhibition will showcase the best work from each of the Graduate Fashion Foundation’s member Universities. Following a four-day public view, an industry private view will be held on Monday 21 September.
GFF Showroom – 17-22 September. This exclusive pop-up Showroom will feature 300 diverse looks from over 150 of the brightest design graduates. This will provide industry representatives with the opportunity to scout talent and find the next big thing. Following an unprecedented end to the academic year, the Showroom demonstrates how the Class of 2020 have adapted and overcome adversity to complete their degrees and deliver creative physical design solutions.
Catwalk Show - Tuesday 22 September. The exhibition activity will culminate in a Catwalk Show, taking place within the Samsung KX store and live streamed to audiences around the world. The catwalk show will feature work by a curated group of 50 of the very best graduates. Winners of the 22 GFF awards will be presented during the show. Watch the live show here from 6pm.
Film – from 17 September on the LFW website. A film featuring work by 60 selected UK fashion graduates has been created and will be listed as part of the Digital Platform of London Fashion Week. This is the first-time students’ work has been presented at London Fashion Week in this way, with the film bringing students work to the wider industry. The film can be viewed on the LFW website.
Work by the following Northumbria University graduates will feature as part of the events:
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