The Truth of a Student Fashion Designer Outside of London

PHOTOGRAPH: @miilkybarkiid (instagram) | Model: Jessica Hession | Clothing: @be.quirky (instagram) 

PHOTOGRAPH: @miilkybarkiid (instagram) | Model: Jessica Hession | Clothing: @be.quirky (instagram) 

With around 121 institutions in the UK offering courses in Fashion and textiles, and around 46,410 students studying in the Creative Arts & Design bracket in 2015. It is hard to see why the voices of fashion students outside of London aren’t heard.

Through the fashion media there is a spiel pushing desirable fashion students to move to London and attend highly-sought out Universities in the fashion capital. However, the boiling pot of creatives outside of London are speaking out against this.

It is obvious that the fashion industry thrives in London and belongs there. In the past year London has been under conversation and debate as the fashion capital. Dominating the fashion school rankings with five schools featuring in the top 10. London itself has more fashion schools than any other city in the world; with Central Saint Martin’s retaining the number one spot.

Although The Guardian earlier this year announced their Fashion & Textiles University league tables, with only one London University leading the top five. Perhaps this suggests that the London-centric fashion industry is soon to be diminished.

 

“I think choosing where to study is very much a personal thing.”

 

Fashion design student, Rachel Green is combatting the fashion industry with determination and  an education hailing from outside the fashion capital – sure enough she is proving that the fashion capital isn’t the only city for fashion students in the UK.

Moving onto her final year of her fashion degree at the University of Salford, Green is certainly not putting herself on the back-bench compared to other student designers.

Joking about studying at Salford, Green claims that people either know where it is, or don’t think that it is a genuine fashion university. She adamantly states that she wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else.

 

“University is a lot more about growing as a person and honestly, it is my life."

 

Green declares to theblabmag that there is no social life when you’re on a fashion course, but she claims that it is well worth it in the end. What is distinctly obvious throughout the interview is that Green believes that hard work pays off.

Looking through rose-tinted glasses at the fashion industry, it is easy to believe that fashion students have the ability to be free in their designs and concepts.

What is so fresh about Green, is that she is blunt in what the fashion world is truly like. 

 

“People have this illusion that being a designer means that ideas come straight to your imagination and that we have this amazing ability to visualise instantly. Personally I don’t find this the case.”

 

It is easy to see why fashion design students are so hard on themselves. Green explains that before starting any projects she has no idea where it is going to end, stating that it takes trial and error before a theme or concept even start to produce themselves.

When looking through Rachel’s’ portfolio of designs online it’s easy to see that her love for life is iridescent through what she has created. Her multi-coloured knitwear plays with ideas of silhouettes and textures – making something that stands out, but also shows a sense of playfulness, which is something that Rachel has herself.

She states that she has spent many years going through designs and concepts, not really knowing what she was aiming for. But the last project hit the creative spark and here we are with her beautiful designs.

For the first time in her design career it allowed herself to be chilled and quite literally loosen up; what she believes to be the main concept of the project was that instead of complicating things, she though very literal and creatively.

Her main inspiration for her final collection came from her part-time business, which she is reluctant to admit. Created from her 14-year-old self, Be Quirky Jewellery, which focused on handmade novelty jewellery.

What seems to have stuck throughout her designing career is novelty, colour and silhouette; the ability to have fun is what Green believes she thrives from.

 

“Really I’m just a big food lover and the fun of getting to wear a Jammie Dodger necklace is too much.”

 

Looking back on what she has creative and succeeded in so far Green states that as a designer and creative, it is her duty to provide society with a splash of colour. Claiming that the fashion industry is an industry of great importance, but also one that holds great barriers. Combining the two world of fashion and what we know as ‘real-life’ could be greatly beneficial for all of us.

The fashion industry is one of the most self-detrimental industries out there. It focuses so much on the image, that it is often easy to forget the tribulations of a fashion student; who often have to provide an income to create their final collection. However, there are organisations out there that are helping young fashion designers, such as BFC and NEWGEN.

After speaking to numerous fashion students throughout the past couple of weeks, the question lingered in the back of my mind. What can be done to help fashion  students? As Green herself stated; fashion is not the easiest of professions, or an industry to get involved in. Although there are hundreds of roles and careers within the industry. The BFC and NEWGEN do a lot more than anyone has in the past for students. 

Although what could help students in a different way could be a sense of hope and positivity from Universities or the fashion industry itself. That itself is needed to fuel determination.

A key part of the fashion industry is interning and gaining experience within the industry, many designers and companies owe themselves to the unpaid interns that work incessantly hard to get their work seen or their name to be heard through the industry.

Green is matter-of-fact in her views on internships.

 

“Rumours say that you have to know someone, who knows someone else, and a person after that who might be able to put a word in for you. I’m not sure that I agree with this.”

 

Green, alike myself, is a strong believer in hard work and determination. Talking about the subject of internships she states that you have to have a sense of dreaming when it comes to getting where you want to be; “a mind full of dreams will make it happen.”

For a fashion designer, Green is extremely positive in her outlook. She is a determined individual, something that I believe that the industry needs. [Green] explained to theblabmag that as a fashion designer there is always something new round the corner and that we [fashion students] should always be moving forward; sometimes there will be other that move faster and that doesn’t matter.

Through her education there is one thing that Green believes that she has learned, and it is that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. This might sound obvious to other people out there, but in an industry that is highly competitive, it is often hard not to be down on yourself. Green states that everyone is different, and at the end of the day, it’s fashion.

 

“fashion is an opinion.”

 

Green is down-to-earth when she talks about the perils of applying for internships. Breaching the subject of how she came about her internship with Molly Goddard, she jokes about how she was one step away from sending a chocolate hamper and hunting down Molly’s favourite sweets to stand out from the crowd.

WORKING 9-7. EXPERIENCE OR EXPLOITATION?

Some advice that she wants to give to anyone wanting to get into the fashion industry is the importance of your work reflecting yourself. How changing your digital portfolio to being more fun and relaxed, from formal can show personality, which is something that the fashion industry is suck on. Stating; our work reflects us as a person does it not?” 

Although internships can be hard to get into, and can often be back-breaking work which is often unpaid Green is optimistic in what the internship can provide for a student; there’s no better way of learning than self-experience. It’s experiences that we learn from as a person, a designer and an active person in society.

 

“It makes us who we are.”

 

From the conversation it seems obvious that interning for a designer provides undeniable experience, and also the ability to grow as a person as well. But perhaps it is also the environment that has a bigger impact on influences too.

Having had to relocate for the summer for a three-month placement, Green has seen a massive difference in location when regarding her work and self. Although studying in Salford has its massive positives for Green, she states that style-wise she feels much freer than back in Manchester.

Manchester has its urban vibe, but there is something about being in London, particular in West London, that feels less-judgemental.

Green is quick to claim that she uses the word "judgemental" loosely. In terms of relocating somewhere where not knowing anyone has allowed her to become a new person style-wise.

From interning she has gained the idea that ‘rules’ of style do not really count. What is most obvious to Green from interning, is the idea that we should wear clothes that bring a sense of emotion and feeling.

 

“That’s what fashion should be; garments created in order to bring a positive impact on the world, and bring happiness into people’s lives.”

 

She had always had thoughts of not caring as to what people think, but until relocating to London she just didn’t have the guts to carry it out.

Coming to the end of the interview, I wanted to ask Green who her influences. 

Green is ecstatic when asked about who her influences were. She states that she is madly in love with the work of Yayoi Kusama, stating that her love and crave for pattern and colour is brought to life within her life. 

What is obvious from talking to Green is that she is determined, in an industry that is consistently seen as lesser than many other academic subjects, fashion is full of determined students and a passion that runs through all. However hard the industry may be to get into, there are students out there that are pushing their way to the top, and they aren’t ready to be pushed to the back.

Green is ready to take on the world, even if she isn’t hailing from a London-centric university. And we are ready to see her flourish.