This year is like no other for fashion graduates, no matter where they are in the world. Pandemic, naturally, has thrown a number of curveballs, denying final-year students the opportunity to physically showcase their work – something that for many has become a childhood dream.
London College of Fashion (LCF) who passed the BA Fashion class, of course, were no exception to this solemn rule. Like their friends at CSM, RCA and elsewhere, the lack of access to the facilities and workshops that they relied on previously created unexpected obstacles, forcing them to test the limits of their minds. Some work with materials they have to deal with immediately, while others even do physical garment manufacturing, producing their final collections using skills acquired quickly in computer programs such as CLO 3D.
But it’s not just the ongoing pandemic that made this year very different for this talented fresh plant. They left the school shelter at the time of the conversation about social justice and equality, only to be ignited by Black Lives Matter movement and campaign for fair rights and protection for trans people, has never been prominent on the cultural agenda. The fashion industry, as a result, now assesses its role in upholding oppressive structures implicitly and explicitly. As the latest to enter the fold, it is now more important than ever for students who graduate to show awareness of, and involvement with, the conversations that define this generation. After all, being a fashion designer in 2020 isn’t just about making beautiful clothes – commenting on the world as it is and, perhaps, offering proposals about what you think can be just as important.
That is what has been done by LCF graduates this year, grappling with issues that include disappointment in city life under late capitalism, presentation of the sensuality of East Asian women, and the experience of modern refugees. Here, we learn more about the final collection of five Class 2020 schools.
Aaron Esh, Men’s Clothing BA
Daniele Fummo Photography
“Completing the collection separately prompted me to find a new solution. Working remotely really encourages new collaboration with people close to me; my friend Charlie Parker demonstrated for me, we did the fitting in FaceTime. My flat friend Daniele Fummo shot my appearance book in our little flat in Haggerston with a piece of calico on the floor and no lighting equipment. Fiona Hartley 3D printing the jewelry from his home printer. All of these aspects really contributed to the new energy from the collection that I had never anticipated.
“My BA work explores alienation and the burden of being in the capitalist system, but now there is a real revival in society about why we live it, and for whom. The BLM movement was increasingly mobilized by the pandemic. A locked and non-working world has allowed us to dedicate our time to protest and think freely. This liberation has given way not only to a deeper understanding of systemic racism, but also to capitalism as a way of life and the demands it makes for us all. “
Seo Kim, BA Fashion Design Technology: Women’s clothing
“In baths, women are almost non-existent – they are silhouettes of a feminine curve. They wipe their bodies dynamically and carefully, and they look very comfortable and beautiful. In the baths, the concept of bathing is only interpreted not only as an act of self-washing but also as an act of self-care that is sensitive. I want to design clothes for a woman who embraces her feminine and active self, illustrating sensuality and sporty alignment.
“I plan to make a complete line and present a physical showcase in London, but because of the coronavirus, I can’t use an industrial sewing machine. Instead of making clothes, I prepared a virtual showcase for my last collection, which allowed me to improve my digital software skills. It’s fun to experiment, and it also allows me to play with fabric properties and realize my last collection in 3D.
“Fashion is important for women’s sexual liberation, and I am greatly influenced by female sexuality. In terms of inspiration, I am very interested in the work of Korean photographer Hwaya Park. This prompted me to further research lingerie, the female body, and to explore ideas about female meat exposure and sexuality. Through my last collection, I felt that I had developed my design identity. As a women’s fashion designer, I aim to explore the relaxed balance of womanhood and sensitivity. “
Rana Mohamed, BA Women’s Clothing Technology Design
“My collection is called” What is your Qabil? (Suku) ”, and that reminds the experience of my mother’s refugee who was forced to leave her home in Somaliland, who was only 18 years old after the civil war. I will reuse the traditional clothes my mother had when she first settled in Amsterdam, evoking transfer and healing.
“Because my collection is about culture, diaspora, refugee experience and sustainability, racial and political issues are central to my work. It’s important to have this kind of conversation. I feel they are not recognized enough. Being Somali is an important part of my identity. That’s all I want to know more about, because I feel like I was not exposed to Somali culture as a child. This collection has been a real advantage for me to find out more about my culture and my mother’s story.
“The pandemic has opened the eyes of many people and created a ‘new normal’. As a final year student, working from home is difficult for me to adjust to. I live with family, which means lack of work space and access to facilities. That said, one pro has learned to use new resources to find ways to create fashion. We were taught how to use a program called CLO 3D, which allows you to make patterns and make clothes on avatars using tools that we normally use in real life. I also really enjoyed making prototypes at home, using clothes from my closet, or even blankets, to hang on to the mannequins. It shows how things we have at home that we think are useless can be useful at times like this. “
Minghao Tang, Men’s Clothing BA
“My collection,” Nonsense Makes Sense “, draws inspiration from my childhood memories of Mo Lei Tau, a Hong Kong subculture featured in director Stephen Chow’s films. They showed the commuter of the Hong Kong office addressing social problems in their daily lives. I have composed the Mo Lei Tau style scenario and followed the storyline day to night. The aim is to make a set of clothes with a unique aesthetic that is also practical for office commuters today.
“I am interested in how they can overcome the problem of social suitability and authoritarian workplaces. When traveling to school during rush hour, I will observe how the passengers dress for work. Inspired by this, I try to introduce designs that can simplify their daily routines and empower commuters to deal with this problem. One way I try to achieve this is by identifying how to combine the function of casual clothing with the details of finishing formal wear. I am also interested in the relationship between Cantonese cultural identity and contemporary fashion. Studying abroad for the first time, I felt a little alienation because I felt people had little knowledge of my culture.
“It is more important than ever for my generation to talk about current social problems. Fashion can have a positive influence in raising awareness about civil rights. Coming from an Asian background, I feel more comfortable discussing these issues such as gender diversity and sexuality in schools. Even though I am a menswear designer, I do not have the mindset that my clothes should tend towards men. People should not feel pressured to choose clothes that fit the binary gender category. My graduate collection aims to empower people to express their identities, especially in more conventional social situations. I am passionate about exploring my Cantonese cultural identity and try to include references to this in my work. “
Linnea Nordquist, Men’s Clothing BA
“For my collection, I used the method of repurposing materials that used to be very important, but eventually lost their value. Nylon tights and wedding gowns are at the core of this collection, as are the performative actions of dressing for a wedding – this is closely related to my love of performance and the joy of dressing. With my childhood memories of the Eurovision and ABBA Song Contest on stereo, it combined my first fashion memories with my love of traditional craftsmanship.
“Because my method is based on the materials I use, the limitations that come with working from home during locking are not a big problem for me, and I spend my time working with what I have. I used used nylon tights as a yarn for my knitwear in the collection. The process is time consuming but feels very important in these times where we really need to give objects more value and value. A wedding dress riding a bicycle is another important component, representing the time and love that is put into a special day. I feel very beautiful to continue the garment story by reusing cloth, giving life to objects that are usually only used once.
“Every fashion brand now needs to develop new methods and alternative work environments. [Brands should hire] young designers who come with fresh perspectives [because] many young people can see the industry with fresh eyes and focus on what needs to be changed. The importance of creative collectives is key in the work environment and that the community needs to work with diverse groups of people to achieve the best things. I want to be a part of this, and I can’t wait to be able to show people what I can do. “