From fabulous kimonos to kawaii-layered outfits inspired by childhood memories to sustainable menswear, UWE Bristol Fashion Textiles design students really are creative individuals.
With many of the students being inspired by a more personal and slow fashion aesthetic than the fashion trends this year, it marks a definite change in the way young designers are looking at the future of fashion.
“I’m very eco focused and all of my projects have been sustainable,” says student Bea Stoneham, who has used organic cottons, deadstock yarns and raw, untreated British wool in her final collections.
Bea added: “The lining on the jackets is made from broken tent fabrics and the latex boots are made by covering stilettos from charity shops. Latex is completely natural too as it’s made from tree sap – I used a sustainable latex company that replant trees in place of the ones they use.
“When you think of sustainable fashion the first city you think of is Bristol, not just in fashion but with food, in business and lifestyle, it’s such a wholesome city to be in”.
Bea’s collection Movere is a mix of tailored and knitwear pieces, inspired by interpretive dance, pose and the movement of the body, featuring fantastical oversized jumpers, culottes and jackets all embellished using hand felting and abstract digital embroidery techniques.
“I have a fine art view of fashion,” she added. “I wanted my garments to be more like art pieces but wearable. My work is really textural. I’m not a perfectionist and often when things appear to have gone wrong, this is where my best ideas come from!”
In contrast to highly embellished knitwear design, Lily Brabham has created a range of printed kimonos inspired by ancient and modern Japanese culture, focusing on the history of Geishas and the kimono, with a hip hop and ghetto aesthetic.
“I specialise in print and wanted a big garment to showcase my designs,” says Lily. “All my prints start from hand drawings, which I edit using Photoshop and digitally print onto fabric.”
Lily’s modern take on the traditional kimono fits right in with the Bristol fashion scene that first inspired her to become a fashion designer. Lily will continue support slow fashion, with plans to start up her own business, making kimonos and acrylic jewellery.
“Kimonos are timeless, you might not wear it every day but you can hang it up on the wall as art when you are not wearing it,” Lily adds. “I want to make sure my kimonos are loved and not thrown away like fast fashion.”
Continuing the sustainable and slow fashion theme menswear designer Ben Lord has created a collection using upcycled vintage floral curtain fabrics from the 1970s.
“I wanted to do something really personal,” says Ben. “I named my collection Kathleen, after my great-grandmother. She developed dementia and with that your memories are distorted and lost. My collection is about the distortion of traditional menswear.”
Ben looked at the tailoring and the style of clothes men were wearing in his grandmother’s photos “and wanted to subtly distort that style, but keep them wearable and as authentic as I could”.
“The one thing that stood out in the old photos was how the floral curtains clashed with everything else in the house! It was a mash of colour! I wanted to take those elements and add them into key pieces.”
With more inspiring collections including fine, punk inspired knits, embellished with smiley faces and layered typefaces by Issy Egan and Ashley Olive’s amazing day glo 19th century crinoline skirts, paired with contemporary camouflage shirts, you get the feeling that these young designers all have a promising fashion career ahead of them.
“It’s a really broad course, there’s a lot of individuality and every student is completely different, you can see that from the final collections,” says Lily.
“I like the diversity of Bristol and how it maintains a certain look and edge, you can tell a fashionable Bristolian from miles away.”
Find out more about the UWE Bristol Fashion Textiles course at courses.uwe.ac.uk/W23A/fashion-textiles
Read our fashion editor Emma’s blog No Debutante