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Design students win MA Fashion Matters Awards


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Published date
19 July 2017

MA students from across LCF’s design courses had the opportunity to apply for Fashion Matters Awards, to help support their final collection or project. The winners have been announced, and this year include Kayleigh Smith from MA Pattern & Garment Technology, Emilie Cohrt from MA Footwear, and Lisbeth Berg and Jennifer Marie Kusowski both from MA Fashion Futures. We spoke to the students to find out about their awards.

How did you find the award application process?

Kayleigh: I’m grateful to be a student at UAL following the fantastic awards available to assist in financing research projects. The process in applying for the Fashion Matters Award was clear and straightforward. I used the brief as a guideline for determining the context and structure of my application. Once I completed my application, I felt I had developed a deeper understanding of my project and had really pinpointed the focus of why I’m doing it.

Emilie: I found the application process pretty straightforward as the PDF guide explained what to do and what the eligibility requirements were.

Lisbeth: The application process was very straight forward and clear as it was all through an online form.

Jennifer: The application process was really helpful in clarifying what I wanted to do for my final masters project. It helped me dig into the cost for each part of the project and also set realistic goals for myself.

How will this award help you realise your final project?

Kayleigh: The award will assist with the financial costs of software subscriptions, hosting volunteers, and materials to manufacture garments.

Emilie: This award will help me in my final project by giving me a better chance at developing a high-standard prototype of my concept, in collaboration with a specialised design engineer. As I am creating a new wearable technology product, prototype development and realisation is a costly process, and the Fashion Matters Award will definitely make a difference there.

Lisbeth: The award first and foremost gives me a little economical leeway that allows me to spend more time on my project, as it is an ambitious project, this is very welcome. Furthermore, it means that I now have a budget for organisation of my workshops and the realisation of the final design outcomes.

Jennifer: The practice-based portion of my final masters project is the creation of a mini-documentary. This money is helping assist the travel and hiring of staff for my film. Being able to interview female change makers is essential for me to spread the positive message of sustainable innovation within the denim industry.

Tell us why fashion matters, and how your work reflects this/these idea(s)?

Emilie: Fashion matters for several reasons – firstly, it is one of the largest global economic industries and as such has the potential to influence a very large global audience, across the different market tiers. Secondly, because of this influence I believe fashion also has an equally large responsibility to continuously question how it can use this power to improve itself and the lives of others. Fashion has the resources to be truly innovative and profoundly improve lives by incorporating technological advancements into familiar products (i.e. health trackers, assistive devices for the hearing/sight impaired) and making these widely available, or at least raise awareness of the existence of these new technological solutions.

Lisbeth: Apart from the sheer size of the fashion industry, in terms of turnover, number of people employed and environmental impact, fashion is a cultural phenomenon that we all relate to in one way or another. It is at the core of our consumerist societies, that we are seeing a lot of negative effects from, in terms of mental well-being as well as degradation of our natural environment. We shape fashion objects but they also shape us and how we relate to them, reflects how we relate to each other and the world around us. Fashion is also potentially a source of empowerment and creativity, but the fast fashion system favours high volumes and homogenisation. These are important issues to address for a more sustainable fashion future and the basis for my work.

Jennifer: Fashion has the power to change hearts and minds. It has never shied away from controversy and has consistently been a medium to start conversations about social and political issues. I want to shine a light on the complex problems in denim production but through innovation, show how we can start making improvements for a better and cleaner fashion industry.

Tell us about your final project?

Kayleigh: Standardised sizing is based on pre-made garments, which is a system that struggles to accommodate the many fit demands of varied body shapes. Consequently, customers may struggle to find a good fit of a design, despite trying on varied sizes. This may make them feel obliged to change their bodies. However, by combining conventional bespoke techniques with 3D digitisation, the advancement of 2D based methods could be moved forward into the 3D context. Parameters of the customer’s actual body in 3D space can be identified, to determine their exact proportions. The 3D body scanner at the Digital Anthropology Lab (JPS) is operated by Size Stream software which analyses the body scan and creates a text file listing body measurements and landmark coordinates. My investigation proposes the use of Rhino CAD to articulate my methodology using the text file via written algorithms using it’s Rhinoscript facility (programming language).

Kayleigh’s work

Emilie: My final project  aims to introduce the element of touch into distance communication and thereby mitigate feelings of loneliness in increasingly globalised social structures. For a very long time, distance communication (e.g. not face-to-face) has been limited to the audio-visual and thus only engages two of our senses, but there is compelling evidence that the sense of touch is of at least equal importance in high-quality interpersonal communication. My project focuses on using innovative technologies to allow this tactile, non-verbal communication to take place across geographical boundaries. It enables a playfully affectionate game of ‘footsie’ to take place – in real time – across distances, letting the users share this emotional intimacy with resulting psycho-physiological benefits such as feelings of belonging, bonding, decreased levels of stress and loneliness, etc.

Lisbeth: My project investigates the role of the designer in a changing fashion industry and the relationships between the designer, the consumer and the object from a point of view well-being and sustainability. I am doing this through a human-centred design approach, where the consumer/user is at the centre of the design process. I am first conducting surveys presenting consumers with future fashion scenarios. The results of this survey will then become the basis of a design workshop and the goal is to explore what the before mentioned relationships can potentially be. My question is if this approach can create alternatives for a more sustainable the fashion future, both in terms of consumer engagement, well-being and emotional durability of products. You can read more about the project on.

Jennifer: For my final project I am interviewing and filming female entrepreneurs that are creating sustainable solutions to improve the current denim system. Accompanying this mini-documentary I am also creating a questionnaire to gauge millennial women’s awareness of denim production and through these two research methods I hope to answer the question, ‘What does ethical denim mean from a women’s perspective, and how can linking feminism and ecology give us a new understanding of sustainable design and manufacturing processes?’