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Graduate Fashion Week preview

Here’s our exclusive pick of the talent you can expect to find at this year’s gathering of student designers – can you spot the stars of the future?

Christopher Jaydon - Colchester School of Art

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

In all honesty, I consider commerciality to be a barrier which would suppress me from portraying what I wanted with a garment or collection. When designing, I try to think more of what looks visually unique instead of what would sell.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

The fashion and textiles degree course at Colchester School of Art, enables us as students to become more commercially aware through a variety of live projects, and links with industry and employers, creating potential contacts for the future.

How concerned are you about the commerciality of your work now, and in the future?

Although I believe sales and commerciality is the main way to gauge the success of a fashion designer, I am currently trying to express an innovative and unique style whilst the saleability of my designs is unimportant. In the future I will consider the commerciality of my work, and will adapt in order to express my own flare and inspiration on a more commercial basis.

Nancy O’Connor - Ravensbourne University

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

Having almost completed my graduate collection, I feel that I have managed to balance a strong level of creativity in the form of craftsmanship along with a sense of the commercial in terms of silhouette and colour.  I think it is very important at this stage to express as much creativity as possible, as this is your time to explore ideas.  However, I am still keen to make clothes a woman wants to wear.  Having tambour beaded my collection I brought an element of couture to the pieces, yet the shapes have a wearable feel.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

Ravensbourne are very keen to get the most out of you creatively.  I feel like I have had the chance this year to fully explore my own design aesthetic.  I think it is expected of you to have an understanding of commerciality and this is further supported by our placement term which was enlightening in terms of commerciality within luxury design. 

Emeline Nsingi Nkosi - Ravensbourne University

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

I feel it all depends on whether I am working for myself or someone else. A placement in a print studio, taught me to be creative but at the same time look at future trends and adapt to the style and brief, it was an experience that taught me that the level of design you work in will more than likely impact your creativity.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

Ravensbourne has a lot of support if you find the time to ask and be proactive. When I was starting up Mako by Me in my second year, I started navigating my way through tutors and helpers and found that I was given a lot of information and support.

How concerned are you about the commerciality of your work now, and in the future?

For the last year, commerciality has been less prevalent for my work, especially as I have been working to develop prints that would represent me, but I am concerned that in the future it will be less about the prints and more about the profits.

I feel it’s an exciting time in print development there are a lot of technological advancements that will allow for new ways of working and therefore new ways of expressing out creativity.

Tiffany Baron - The University of East London

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

I work through a series of creative design development stages to get to a product that I could see hung in a store. You need to keep a healthy balance of innovate designing to stay fresh and new, but also not to branch out too far as it may not appeal to mass market.

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

I have found a new love for sports leisurewear in the past year and I think the way I design could affect my job prospects positively in this sector. I think the way I can water a conceptual ideas down into an everyday wearable piece works in my favour as a designer.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

The word ‘commercial’ has barely been used on my course. We get taught not to make our designs look like costume, but overall I think the students on my course are all pretty realistic as well as the tutors so we automatically work in a way in which we envisage our designs going to market. I feel it is important to understand what’s dramatic and conceptual and what’s commercial but you can still be heavily creative in a commercial way.

Deimante Meilune - Colchester School of Art 

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

The creative process is very important to me, I have used couture techniques such as embroidery and beading and many of my garments are hand printed and made from antique Lithuanian textiles which makes them unique, however I can see that they could be translated for mass production. I have a market in mind when I design and would love to see my collection selling somewhere like Dover Street Market, The Shop at Bluebird or Start in Shoreditch.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

The Fashion Textiles programme at Colchester has good links with industry and live projects have been very much part of our course; at the same time though we are encouraged students to realise our creative potential and make a personal statement with our final collections.

How concerned are you about the commerciality of your work now, and in the future?

I understand that to make a living I have to sell my work and there has to be a market, I am aiming to produce high end collections which will be investment pieces to treasure and wear for many years. There is too much fast fashion and I believe that in the future people will be investing in beautifully made long lasting garments.

Dan WJ Prasad - Edinburgh College of Art

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

 I feel the balance between both are key however at student level, creativity should be explored to its fullest potential. I feel with what I have learnt at ECA I will be able to channel creativity along with commerciality very well.

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

If your portfolio displays a variation of both then it should only have a positive effect. Employers are looking for something new and original.

How much have your university/college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

At the Edinburgh College of Art so many bases are covered. When graduating you are not just a fashion designer you are also a graphic designer, illustrator, business person, pattern cutter and a maker. I feel obtaining all of these skills are key to achieving a job within industry.

Raj Mistry - Edinburgh college of Art

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

Commerciality is not the biggest factor in my mind when designing. My concern lies in making the customer feel cool, strong and comfortable. While designing I always bear in mind the wearer and how they want to feel within the garments.

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively? 

I think that the way I design will give me a large range of job prospects. I try not to factor in the negatives but adapt my designs and creativity to suit any job.      

How much have your university/college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do? 

 I feel the fashion course I’m on does not have the biggest emphasises on commerciality, which is great because your creatively free to do whatever you want with in the first year your there. It’s all about being comfortable with your designs and garments if it makes you happy it should make the wearer happy.   

Alanna Kaye - Bath Spa University

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

I design for someone who wants to stand out, but not in too contrived a way. I balance the aspect of the design process that I seem to be getting more creative with by keeping other areas simple. In my final collection I played with multiple clashing prints but in a harmonious colour palette and easy silhouettes. 

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

If in a creative position for a brand, where my ideas and design aesthetic are required, I could learn that brand’s balance and work to it. Concerning product development, which is so important for the commerciality of a garment, I have a way to go still, to hone the details that back up the design, such as trimmings and user friendly openings.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

Bath Spa has a strong commercial and practical base. We are encouraged to consider wear-ability and functionality within the design process. Pattern cutting, tailoring and sewing skills are the emphasis of year one, giving time to experiment, with know how, in the later years.

Rebecca Head - Bath Spa University

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

I think I have always been interested in designing clothes that are wearable. I enjoy the challenge of creating something with both creativity and wearability and looking into the details and the silhouette of garments to produce something that fits both categories. 

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

I believe being both creative and commercially aware when designing will be a positive to my job prospects, as it will hopefully show any potential employer that I am able to create garments which blend these two aspects together.

How much have your university/college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

My university has always had the feel of a professional studio, and this has helped to promote the idea of working in industry. Also having industry briefs to follow has emphasized how to adapt your own design esthetic to commercial brands. 

Charlotte Arcedeckne-Butler - Manchester Metropolitan University

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

Creativity can be compromised to fit a commercial curriculum. Balancing the two takes flexibility and perseverance and at times I find it difficult to dilute my designs for mass market. I appreciate the fundamentals of fashion and how generic details have evolved historically, but I don’t like to put buttons on a shirt where they ‘should’ be or use colours that are on trend.

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

Positively there are always niches for something ‘different’ and I hope that if I stay true to my morals and design philosophy then I may gain recognition for that. I think my job prospects could be negatively affected as some employees may prefer a candidate that works without questioning the relevance of a process or challenging predetermined ideals, which could be more appealing.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

There is pressure to commercialise creativity at university and it wasn’t until recently I realised that fashion as a course is not focused on creation but communication. Designs are dissected into function, target markets and trends.

Aly Sazan - Ravensbourne University

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

The creativity never stops it’s just a question of prioritising what is necessary at that given time. It is only natural for us to disappear into our own creative worlds where the possibilities are endless. I have to be practical and patient with what I wish to achieve after all, nothing worth having comes easy. 

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

 I feel that in terms of design, I can bring something different to the table. My tutors always tell me that I think differently to other students, whether this is a compliment or insult, I do not know! I’m not fazed by multitasking or the “jack of all trades master of none” theory. I’ve always believed that knowledge is power and I’m always looking to learn new things, it’s what keeps me motivated and keeps my projects fresh.

How much have your university/ college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

Ravensbourne really encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations between students. There are always students willing to work together on projects outside their own specialist fields to see what exciting things come together.

Vic Riches - Kingston University

How, if at all, do you go about balancing creativity and commerciality?

I think it’s important to approach any commercial led project with as much enthusiasm as you would with your own work. Hitting the brief for something commercial is just as exciting as working on things a bit more left field, if you see it as a challenge.

How do you think the way you personally blend creativity and commerciality will affect your job prospects positively and negatively?

I get the impression that recruiters are obviously looking out for raw talent, but I think they always want to see signs of adaptability to the brand. There’s a fine balance between fitting with the style of a brand and being able to offer something new.

How much have your university/college promoted/emphasised the commercial aspects of what you do?

Kingston has been an invaluable platform for becoming aware of the design industry. Being ‘employable’ is something that is strongly celebrated here, and a characteristic I have striven towards throughout my studies. We have had so many fantastic opportunities with design work experience, many of which have led to job offers. It’s been a great way to push to new levels in my personal design development.

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