WATCH: Designs by Norwich fashion students wow crowds on Graduate Fashion Week catwalk
PUBLISHED: 11:14 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 05 June 2019
Sustainability was the name of the game for fashion students – including a group from Norwich – at this year’s Graduate Fashion Week in London. Bethany Whymark reports.
The fashion industry shed its "frivolous" image for a more eco-conscious guise at a graduate show featuring students from Norfolk.
Norwich University of the Arts' (NUA) catwalk show at Graduate Fashion Week featured collections using recycled denim and biodegradable plastics.
In total 17 final year students from the university's fashion degree course watched their creations go down the catwalk at the Truman Brewery in London on Tuesday, in front of an audience of academics and fashion industry leaders as well as family and friends.
Among them was Megan Grinham, 21 and from Colchester, who has been shortlisted for an accessories award for her work with recycled materials and was the winner of a competition to design the 2019 Children in Need t-shirt, with her winning design revealed for the first time at Graduate Fashion Week.
Her collection - inspired by craftsmen's uniforms, made using recyclable plastics and adorned with laser-cut acrylic hardware - was inspired by her family.
"We are all very hands-on and like to be creative," she said.
"I think people are very aware of the environmental situation we are in and as we are the future of fashion it is so important that we start now.
"So many graduates are making collections every year, just buying fabric, so it is really important that we do the best we can to be sustainable, even if that means making the garment last longer - that is what I focused on with mine."
She added: "We have spent hours and hours on a single garment so to actually see it on the models on the runway, we feel immensely proud."
Phoebe Constable's collection of bio-plastic garments was inspired growing up by the sea in West Wittering, where she used to collect plastic from the beach as craft materials.
The 21-year-old said: "I wanted to create something plastic but positive. It is biodegradable, it shows how plastic can be positive and poses a solution to part of the problem."
Miss Constable said the show had been "a whirlwind" during which she had been interviewed for a documentary film on sustainability in fashion.
Hillary Marerwa's collection of knitted denim garments was inspired by her love of the material.
The 21-year-old, from Hertfordshire, said: "In my research I started to find out a lot of things about the denim industry that I couldn't live with.
"I thought, why not use the clothing we already have and recycle, and how can I do something different that people will enjoy, and thought I could knit it.
"People have a lot of questions about it, which I find opens up opportunities for a conversation about sustainability and that was my goal."
Hilary Carlisle, dean of design and architecture at NUA, said students were encouraged to be socially and environmentally aware in their work.
"It is easy to think that fashion is amazingly frivolous but when you get down into it, how it is designed, you see that the students are very aware of it and they are making a statement about it," she said.
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It was also an important day for NUA's fashion communication and promotion (FCP) students, all 35 of whom in the graduating class had a portfolio on show at the university's Graduate Fashion Week stand.
FCP students Lucy Phillips, 21, and Ryan Hyde, 22, are among seven students on the course shortlisted for awards - Lucy for photography and Ryan for publication, for a music-focused magazine about underground culture in the UK, with interview and fashion features which it took him around six months to compile.
He said: "It feels good to be put forward as there were not many music based magazines in the category."
Miss Phillips said: "Coming as a graduate you have got your work out and it is really exciting. It is a good experience for networking and having people see your work. People have been really approachable."
Alex Hill, FCP course leader at NUA, said exposure to industry figures was equally important for students from both fashion courses.
"It is all about networking. It could be 'I am from Clarks and I am looking for someone to join our marketing team' or 'I'm looking for someone to do some promotional photos'. That is the valuable bit: being able to talk to people in industry," she said.
Martyn Roberts, director of Graduate Fashion Week, said around 10pc of the 30,000 guests expected at the four-day show would be fashion industry professionals.
"They are coming to discover the next generation of talent. Industry is driven by new ideas, if you speak to the graduates like those from NUA they are the ones who will drive those new ideas."
On sustainability in fashion, Mr Roberts said: "We work with a lot of brands from designer to high street to supermarket brands and they all realise there needs to be a change. With a lot of them it is about how you change a big organisation - it is like trying to change the direction of a big ship. But suddenly you have a lot of graduates who are going out to these companies and showing them how to do things in a new way."
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