“I do believe that British students are flourishing because England has the best educational system, providing art & design students with the freedom to think, to dream and to do.” Alber Elbaz
From 30 May to 2 June 2015, East London’s Truman Brewery transformed itself into a fashion venue for up-and-coming talent. Founded in 1991, Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) celebrates the creativity of students and graduates from the most prestigious creative arts universities in the UK, specializing in areas such as fashion design, pattern cutting, styling, marketing and communications. This annual event showcases catwalk shows, exhibition stands, workshops and live industry talks, allowing guests to witness the development of a new generation of the next “Alexander McQueens”, and ”Susie Bubbles”.
The first time I ever attended GFW was back in 2013, working as a backstage dresser for my university’s catwalk show. I recall how hectic but exciting it was dressing up models in clothes that were made by the blood, sweat and tears of hardworking third-year students. At that time, I was thinking to myself that this could potentially be me. Where I’m from, fashion graduates don’t really have such a huge platform to endorse themselves and network with industry professionals. Moving to the UK was something I knew would give me tremendous opportunities to learn, grow and interact with fashion in ways I never thought would have been achievable.
Now, flashing forward to GFW 30 May 2015: I was there.
I was there as a guest, student, supporting friend and fashion enthusiast. Sadly, however, I wasn’t there as a catwalk participant. However, I was still going to see my own university’s show! The garments that graced the catwalk were a once-upon-a time vision – a vision that started off as a sketch and design development that ultimately led to the final product.
Despite not being given a catwalk, that didn’t stop me from endorsing myself and further expanding my existing fashion network. During my wandering around the exhibition, I came across some lovely people from one of the event’s sponsors called The Edit.
First launched in February 2015 during London Fashion Week, The Edit is a fashion shopping App that offers a unique and portable “browse-and-buy” experience. This Tinder-like App enables users to “swipe right” if they like what they see and “swipe left” if they don’t. By securely linking the App to PayPal, shoppers are able to enjoy a quick and hassle-free purchase by discovering over 80,000 products by desirable brands including Topshop, River Island, New Look and Adidas. This innovative e-commerce App has recently been voted as one of the top-five fashion Apps, according to Marie Claire. At GFW, The Edit created an interactive stand and also hosted the GFW Street Style Competition, where on each day, visitors of the event were able to have their picture taken and put to vote on The Edit’s Instagram page. In addition to the Style Competition, users were able to vote on the collections of the graduates who make it into ‘The Best of Graduate Fashion Week’ show on the final day of 2 June. Some of my friends are hopefully going to get nominated for that!
Indeed, GFW does provide an excellent platform for fashion graduates and exciting innovative companies! However, let me tell you this my fellow soon-to-be fashion graduates: Just because you weren’t given the opportunity to step into the spotlight at that particular moment, doesn’t mean you aren’t ever going to ultimately prevail! I wasn’t given any press coverage, but still managed to build my own platform myself. At the end of the day, no matter how “big” or “small” you are now, ALL of us in this graduating class of summer 2015 are definitely the up-and-coming talent in the fashion industry of the future.
PS: Tuesday (June 2) is the last day of GFW!! So if you are in the area, please go say hello to my friends at the AUB stand and have your picture taken from The Edit and download their APP! http://www.theeditapp.com/
C’est moi! https://instagram.com/geneve_chalonne/
Backstage before the show
Catwalk (For more designers see http://www.catwalking.com/archive/seasons/graduates/2015/BA/BOUR )