10 fashion students tell us about their hopes for the future of the fashion industry
In association with 1Granary, we asked this year’s Central Saint Martins fashion grads to open up about the industry they are about to become a part of.
Fashion has found itself in a strange double bind recently. On one hand, it is far from an unexciting time: the industry is evolving, and while the rising tide is definitely not lifting all (or most) boats, it seems to open up doors for a broader range of possible models, as ethical and sustainability issues are permeating the conversation. On the other hand, the list of recent worries hardly need mentioning: sales dropping, iconic designers burning out, perennial brands struggling to find a suitable heir, growing discontentment with the seasonal model, the celebrity focus, the lack of innovation, and so on.
The fashion industry is changing, and no one is as concerned by its future as the people who are eager to join its ranks after graduating from university. In this spirit, we talked to the graduating BA Fashion Design students at Central Saint Martins just as they were about to show their final collection to the press and the public; and we asked them about what they hope for the future — both for the fashion industry at large and for themselves.
And while some may dismiss talks of hope in fashion as the speculations of a frivolous world, 'fashion' is also a place where many people live: the fashion industry is one of Britain's biggest, and while there is a world between the confines of Central Saint Martins and the retail worker who populates the industry, it is a smaller world than one might think. In the words of one of the soon-to-be graduates: "We all need a job, don't we."
Derek Cheng, Fashion Design Management
"I truly hope that people can pay more attention to how their clothes are being produced, and through that, hopefully, more people can appreciate what we are doing, and realize what fast fashion is actually doing to people in our industry."
Edwin Mohney, Womenswear
"My hopes for the industry are that, with the market expanding, and companies becoming larger and more global, there will be a movement that is just as strong as that sort of mainstream fashion, but which is a bit more about individuality; a bit more of a reaction to all of the mainstream high-fashion.
"This is the first time social media has been a massive instrument in fashion, so it would be great if individual designers — despite being smaller — are able to be just as globally present because of the internet. My dream would be to see something like that happening, and to be part of the movement. I think there is strength in numbers, and I think that it is key for young designers to have friends that you can depend on, and other peers who believe in something similar to what you believe in."
Imogen Wright, Womenswear
"I'd like everything to slow down a little bit, and that CEOs and all of the corporate side of the industry starts to respect the designers a bit more. And that space continues to be available for creativity and development.
"Really I hope that, in the future, I can find some space to develop my own work in a sustainable way, over the long term."
Liam Johnson, Print
"My hope for the industry is for it to become a little bit more open-minded again. Not that we should reminisce about the past, but for it to just be a lot more open to what fashion is, to what fashion could be, to what clothes could be. I just hope it inspires people."
Ernesto Naranjo Perez, Womenswear
"I hope the industry lets us get in, because sometimes it feels like a completely closed circle, that they don't let new people, young people, get in.
"Personally I'd like to cultivate my creativity and my style, I want to continue studying, to prepare myself better for the future."
Essie Buckman, Fashion Design Marketing
"I hope that it just gets more fun again -- a little less serious, a little less intense, and a bit more creative. But I get it, everyone needs to make money I guess; so do I. I just miss that whole freedom to do whatever you want and get respect from that. I also just hope this presentation goes well, hopefully!"
Ruihong Harry Xu, Menswear
"I hope it all becomes more sustainable, because at the moment designers are under such huge stress and pressure. No matter if they're working for big companies or small ones, they are always fighting for the balance between integrity and business. I hope there will be a better solution to that, but obviously designers have to be intelligent enough to adapt if they want to succeed. At the moment it is very fast, very challenging, very competitive -- I hope it gets better."
Soyoung Park, Menswear
"I can't hope on making my own business after graduation, because I need the money, and I need experience. Even though I've done placements before, I don't think it's enough, so I want to learn more while working in the industry.
"As for the fashion industry, I [wish] visas were simpler. For Asian students, for example, it is really hard to get a visa to work in Europe or America. If this was easier, I think the fashion industry would benefit, because a lot of foreign students are really good."
Joanna Melbourne, Fashion Design Management
"I hope that, like every other industry, we can evolve what is happening at the current time, rather than trying to stick too closely to something that has been working for a long time, but might not work in the future. Sometimes people are a bit nostalgic and scared of change, but change is a good thing. I hope that people can be allowed to pursue their strengths. A lot of people might have their strengths in something very niche, but the industry doesn't allow them to explore that at that moment."
Joe Boon, Womenswear
"I hope that there is more interdisciplinary mingling between fine art and fashion, music and fashion — because fashion can be quite like an island, and people can be unaccepting of others sometimes, living in their ivory towers. But I think that, more and more, we are learning that in the digital age, we have to work with everybody to create something unique and brilliant."
Text Alexandre Saden
Photography Anabel Navarro Llorens