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My name is Ashwini Deshpande. I work in the realm of digital fashion and innovation. I use digital means to make fashion more exciting, while also drawing attention to important real-world causes.
I was skeptical about this year’s graduation as the physical ceremony had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. However, the virtual graduation was pretty great too! I loved seeing Grayson Perry’s famous graduation robe for the year, and hearing some other staff/students made me feel like we’re in this together – that we can all find our places in the industry and use our creativity to change the world for the better!
In mid-2020, the farmers in India started protesting new privatisation laws. It was one of the biggest protests in the history of the world, and is not over till date. However, the coverage of these protests did not match its scale, and the fashion industry was particularly quiet in their support. Agriculture forms the first step of any sustainable fashion supply chain, so I wanted to highlight that and show my support in an interesting way – through my immaterial, digital fashion collection. The collection is displayed in a virtual reality environment which literally shows the metaphor ‘clothes growing on trees’, with women plucking these ‘dresses’ and sowing new seeds.
From a social perspective, I hope this collection, with its bold colours and modern silhouettes, is able to catch people’s eye, draw attention to the farmers’ protests in India and remind them where their clothing comes from. I also hope that, in the fashion industry, it is able to inspire other students and professionals to experiment digitally and use digital fashion within the supply chain and from a communications angle, to aid sustainability and transparency.
My graduate work, alongside an interview, was featured in Techstyler’s video series. I also have my own fashion technology start-up, which has been featured extensively, in Forbes, the Evening Standard, Wonderland, Grazia, Microsoft In Culture, and more.
Sustainability is all-encompassing and a complicated term. There is no one way to define sustainable fashion because producing and consuming fashion can never be fully sustainable. I believe you need to pick your battles and choose what the most important aspects of sustainability are to you, and focus on them, slowly expanding in any positive direction you can. To me, that first and foremost means ethical manufacturing and fair pay, whether a garment is made locally or in a developing country like mine. It also means longevity and durability, because the most sustainable clothes in the world are those that are already in our wardrobes.
In 2016, I joined LCF as a foundation student. I chose LCF because I knew it was highly rated, and because I had heard positive things about the culture of the university - a culture of encouragement, positivity and diversity which it lived up to. I studied a combination of fashion design, media and business. That’s when I understood the importance of good design, as well as that of being able to reach your target customer. I chose to go on to study BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development because it is the perfect blend of fashion design and business education.
I am one of the first ever LCF students to make a fully digital graduate fashion collection, marking the beginning of a new era! COVID-19 has flipped the industry on its head and accelerated the pace of technological change and advancement. It is an exciting time to step into the fashion industry, when people are open to embracing innovation and making way for anyone who has the courage to challenge the status quo.
Five years from now, I hope to be changing the way fashion is experienced digitally and running my own company that is a trailblazer in its field. I also have a vision of empowering other students and young creatives by equipping them with the digital skills that will be essential for the future fashion workforce, and teaching them to innovate, so I hope to be involved in academia/education as well.
The course is an incredible one and one of the most versatile, so it can do so much for you, if you make the most of it. Experiment and take risks, be fully involved and passionate at every step. This is the best time to make mistakes and learn from them, and figure out where you can fit in and add most value to the industry. Great things lie ahead of you!
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