BA students from across LCF’s design courses had the opportunity to apply for Fashion Matters BA Final Collection or Research Awards, to help support their final collection or project. The winners have been announced, and this year include Raisa Mondal from BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear Product Design and Development, Naruhiro Iizawa from BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear, Suinan Li from BA (Hons) Fashion Jewellery, and Scarlett Di from BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Menswear.
How did you find the award application process?
Raisa: While researching all the components I would incorporate in my work, I wanted to stay as true to my concept as I could but I soon realised it was a lot harder to do so financially. I then decided to browse through the awards and bursaries available on the UAL website, and thought the BA Fashion Matters Final Collection was particularly relevant to my project, so I applied for it.
Naruhiro: I found out about this award with ‘Scholarships Search‘ on the UAL website and decided to apply.
Suinan & Scarlett: We were told about the awards by our tutors via email, and and found the application process on the UAL website.
How will this award help you realise your final project?
Raisa: The award has enabled me to source PU leather from trustworthy companies. I have also sourced water-based adhesive that are non-toxic to humans and the environment. I am in the process of obtaining natural rubber for my soling materials too. However the most important thing that the award has provided me with, is the opportunity to travel to Kolkata, India in April, so I can put together a team of women to embroider on removable accessories for the range. They will be paid above the living wage for their contribution as they are a core part of my brand.
Naruhiro: I would say that this award will help me financially, because it will give me a lot of opportunities to develop and investigate materials for my final collection. It also encourages and gives me confidence because I was selected – I can say that this is one of the reasons I am enjoying my final project so much!
Suinan: My final project is experimental, conceptual and challenging. I spent a lot of time and money on the experiments in order to find the right material and the mould to make the object. My main materials are jesmonite ac 300, elastic Lurex fabric, leather and pearl shell. The price of these materials is expensive in the UK. As an international student without income, winning this award means a lot to me and it will significantly help me to reduce the money pressure and have a better option for the materials.
Scarlett: The award will help me research clothes and shoes from charity shops. Part of the fabric for my collection is unpicked second-hand clothes, and all the shoes will be reworked from shoes bought in charity shops. In my final collection, I am experimenting with using second-hand jeans as part of the fabric. Some second-hand jeans have very destroyed and damaged edges, and for some garments especially jeans, it interesting to see a unique damaged edges as a texture.
Tell us why fashion matters, and how your work reflects this idea/these ideas?
Raisa: Fashion matters because the industry can now be portrayed, not as an exploitative one but as a responsible and caring industry, that appreciates those who help make it what it is. My collection features interchangeable upper accessories that exhibit hand embroidered ‘Kantha’ work by the talented women of West Bengal, who have been practising handicrafts for generations. Through the sale of a pair of shoes, the brand will secure a sum of £5, which will then be reinvested in the women who made it all happen. The brand can eventually undertake programmes such as education of women and children in villages in India, opportunities to learn new skills, healthcare support and rehabilitation for victims of sex crimes, abuse, abandonment, natural disasters, etc. In this way, fashion matters in the improvement of women’s welfare as large sections of the manufacturing process is carried out by women.
Naruhiro: I believe that people can express their identities by fashion. Fashion functions as art, and a shelter to protect the human body, and its privacy like architecture. I think there are relationships between fashion and architecture, which is what I studied at university in Japan before. I consider fashion as physical space and second human skin. Consequently, I strongly believe that fashion matters in our society.
Suinan: Fashion matters because it can give people a fresh impression of the materials or objects that they are familiar with. Jewellery for example used to just imitate the precious jewellery and now it follows the trends and is part of the fast fashion industry. However, more and more brands and designers are creating fashion jewellery in more innovative approaches. I think is the future of fashion jewellery because it breaks the rules of the formats and the materials of a piece of traditional work.
Scarlett: What I want to point out is that fashion matters because there are so many new products produced and it’s ok to use fabric that can speak about the time we are in, to make it more meaningful. In 1980, artist Bill Woodrow made his signature work from salvaged white good and metal hardware (such as old washing machines, old car door and bonnets) that he picked up from the street. There is a human dimension in my collection that I used second-hand garments and shoes in my design and rework on them in a totally new collection.
Tell us about your final project?
Raisa: Culture Hungry is a project focusing on exhibiting the works of talented women in West Bengal, India where they have been practising their crafts for generations. I have designed a collection of sustainable footwear that uniquely incorporates ‘Kantha’ embroidery and the aesthetics of hand looms, while keeping the range as accessible as possible. The project aims to set up a co-operative where women are supported and can work towards financial independence. The designs are inspired by Bengal and its culture: the uppers are inspired the Bengali alphabet, the heels are inspired by looms- they are structures made from blocks of wood intertwined with wire. The accessories range from occasionwear to everyday as they vary in the level of workmanship. The premium pieces of the collection also feature hand embellishment for a truly unique look. The entire collection is hand-made.
Naruhiro: I have been interested in buildings under construction, building demolition and ruins, because they have a cycle of life reflecting the cities and the time we live in. I am inspired by all stages of construction, seeing the beauty of imperfection in destruction and in the unfinished nature of the stages of construction to the completed beauty of perfection. In London, I see construction sites cluttered with materials of concrete, plastic and metal. Often covered or wrapped, or exposed revealing a previous life before reconstruction or redevelopment. I creating a womenswear collection, which reflect interiors and exteriors of buildings, revealing and hiding, morphing and continually changing. I am hoping to redesign contemporary womenswear to reflect the ever changing and beautiful urban environment we live in.
Suinan: My final major project is inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetic – wabi-sabi. According to Koren (1994), wabi-sabi is ‘a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete’. It reminds us to value the things we have at the moment, because things change all the time and don’t last forever. It challenges mainstream beauty and gives people a different angle to see the world. To express my appreciation of wabi-sabi, the jewellery in my collection will be ‘imperfect’ and unconventional. When something is broken people either fix the crack or throw the object away. What happen if this thing goes another way around? What if the object only becomes useful and functional when it is broken? In this project, the complete object is useless; it can only become useful after you break it. A piece of wearable jewellery will be born from the hard breaking action with all the marks and flaws.
Scarlett: My final menswear collection is about digression on traditional menswear. I am cutting traditional menswear in the way that some artists make sculptures and architecture. I am inspired by artists such as Richard Wilson, Gordon Matta-Clark and Bill Woodrow. Gordon Matta-Clark observes that ‘as a result, access to knowledge and creation could only be posted from within a landscape in its entirety, by changing, expanding and transforming it.’ Applying this idea to menswear, I used a lot of cutting up construction, discovered the inside of the tailored jacket and turned the lining inside out. I am trying to treat my design as a sculpture. It is all about playing between 2D and 3D.