​diversity now! vote for the best fashion student work of 2016

Fashion students across the UK have shown i-D and All Walks their talent. Now YOU must vote for the Diversity NOW! People’s Choice award winner.

by i-D Staff
24 May 2016, 2:20pm

Abiola Onabule

i-D have teamed up once again with fashion diversity activists All Walks Beyond the Catwalk to discover the most exciting fashion students celebrating diversity and individuality in their work. The Diversity NOW! competition challenges students across the UK to present their vision of an inclusive fashion future, where personal identity and individual style are prized above dress size, or the number of candles on your last birthday cake.

Students from 37 UK fashion colleges and universities took part, responding to a brief set by All Walks', the industry-insider campaign to promote diversity in fashion that was launched in 2009 by fashion strategist Debra Bourne, erstwhile i-D fashion editor Caryn Franklin and British supermodel Erin O'Connor.

Students submitted their entries to Arts Thread, in a range of creative disciplines: photography and styling, graphic design, illustration, garment design and journalism. Exploding the industry's currently very narrow definition of beauty, their work represents and celebrates a much broader range of body shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, abilities and genders in a fashion context. These entries have been painstakingly whittled down by a judging panel of fashion industry experts to just 15 finalists.

Now, it's time to have your say. Check out all 15 finalists below, and help to select the Diversity NOW! 2016 People's Choice award winner by voting below. Voting closes on 4 June, and the winner will be announced during Graduate Fashion Week on 7 June.

Have your say on the future of fashion, and remember: fashion is boring when everybody looks the same!

Photography and Styling

Lenita Visan, BA (Hons) Fashion Styling, Istituto Marangoni London

"I believe that Love is the most powerful energy that drives humankind. It is the key to diversity as, within love stories, there are no questions or race, age or religion. Through this shoot we wanted to enter lovers' intimacies and push the doors of their bedrooms to unveil the place where diversity takes its most beautiful shape."

Marina Pamies, BA (Hons) Fashion Styling, Istituto Marangoni London

"Being a fashion stylist student I'm usually told 'go out of your Comfort Zone', but my idea for Diversity NOW was to explore the opposite. Comfort Zones is an editorial that wanted to develop into how we all, in a different way move and interact, but at the same time, feel limited by our inner spaces. Age, race or sizes are issues drawn by each of us, and we realised that bodies have different needs to feel comfortable."

Hollie Mccarten-Donnelly, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication, Northumbria University

"My images focus on the creativity and narrative underneath the intricate designs of tattoos. I wanted to show the contrast between the assumptions often made of those with tattoos, with the meanings behind them. Chloe Jackson featured in my photographs told me, "I'm treated differently all the time because of my tattoos. People think I am less educated, or I'm a bit of a thug...". Tattoos were once the distinguishing features of soldiers, sailors, bikers, punks and rockers. But now, tattoos belong to teachers, mothers and nurses. It is this shift in society that I think some people still struggle to accept."

To Chang, BA (Hons) Fashion Styling And Photography, London College of Fashion

"This project was inspired by a song called "We're different, Yet the same" by singer Jolin Tsai. I want to reveal the idea that although we are all different (culture, sexes, gender, skins) in many part, actually we are all the same- Human. We all deserved love and to be loved, we need to embrace ourselves and be true to our hearts. Guys, stay different."

Graphic Poster

Beatrice Burns, BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion, Ravensbourne

"Colour Me In is a response to comments made by black model Leomie Anderson's during fashion week this year. Her statements brought to light the harsh reality of discrimination behind the scenes at the catwalk shows… how black girls are suffering from an insufficient amount of MUA and hair stylists."


Belén Cao, MA Communication Design Illustration, Kingston University

"With my 'Transvestites, Blurred Life: Shadows in the Daylight, Enigma after Dusk' illustrations I intend to convey a message against the marginalisation of this part of society which has existed since the 1880s. Fashion is a powerful weapon to integrate all kind of trends, cultures and social behaviours. Let us use Fashion to open closed minds in the interests of a more educated society following the maxim of the Cuban Poet José Martí: 'Be cultured to be free'."

Naichelle Davis, MA Fashion Bodywear, De Montfort University

"I was trying to convey through the fashion illustration the idea of challenging Eurocentric ideals and promoting things like natural hair, darker skin models, which is still a shocking thing in fashion, which I find odd. I just wanted to put it out there that women of colour are beautiful, natural hair is beautiful, curvy women are beautiful."

Garment Design

Josephine Cowell, MA Textiles, Royal College of Art

"This project explores a desire to be wrapped up and concealed, particularly in relation to disability and difference, using applied textiles to shield and comfort. It also examines the pursuit of catharsis through exposure of body, self and sexuality. The collection is driven by fetishism and the unfiltered sensuality of skin, flesh and hair, celebrating imperfection and damage. The work in context embraces 'otherness' depicting the beauty of a body-type less used in fashion, as well as non-binary relationships and identities, arguably under represented in fashion imagery."

Abiola Onabule, BA (Hons) Fashion Design, University of Westminster

"I used the practical, durable denim as the main fabric for the jacket and trousers. I combined it with Dutch Wax Cottons and laces to create a meeting of soft and hard, African and Western, feminine and masculine. Although my clothes are representations of my heritage and my personality, they are designed for anyone and everyone who wishes to wear them, so I chose a model with a look less often seen in clothes like these. For me, diversity isn't just about holding up a mirror to its audience. It's also a way of displaying and celebrating the differences. Difference is how we evolve and grow as humans, so to deny it is to regress."

Dayun Lee, BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear, London College of Fashion

"This projects is about the Grunge Geisha. As an Asian woman, I have to deal with so many oppressions and stereotypes about being a 20 year old female Asian. The stereotypes and generalisation of Asian women lead me to create this concept to show people how Asian women can be bold and aggressive. This is because I have seen so many people portraying Asian females as passive and naive girls."

Marta Kaźmierczak, BA (Hons) Fashion, Edinburgh College of Art

"My design was hugely inspired by my muse, Cece. Cece is Chinese and proud of her identity and cultural background. I feel like her individuality brings another dimension to my designs. As I wanted the garment to be very personal to my muse, I worked closely with her throughout the design process. I wanted my design to directly refer to Cece's sense of identity and cultural heritage. Therefore, the cut of the garment was influenced by traditional Chinese robes. The use of the word PROUD in both English and Chinese has been chosen to express my message and encourage people that they should not hide their individuality."

Toni Gunns, BA (Hons) Fashion Design, UCLAN

"A concept inspired by 'PERFECT BODY' ideologies and expectations of the female body placed on women in society both historically and in the present day. This idea questions the airbrushed perfection prevalent in fashion today... I aim to detach the body and women from 'cover girl' perfection and the usual stereotypes and find the beauty of the person who lies beneath the skin, not the judged surface appearance. The inside of an individual is much more complex and layered so I am presenting this internal beauty and complexity as a surface treatment."

Rimishha Eejaz, BA (Hons) Fashion, Heriot Watt University

"I believe diversity lies in the streets, where beauty is there but not seen often. People associate streets to filthy and threatening neighbourhoods, and just automatically think that there's nothing attractive about it. People living on the streets can be beautiful... can be confident... can be vulnerable... and can be diverse."


Amy Elliott, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication, Northumbria University

"An industry that holds 'perfection' next to godliness is naturally dominated by aesthetics and the pursuit of the 'it' girl. These concepts and their accompanying suffocating pressures on women, not to mention the issues of misogyny and hyper-sexualisation that go with them, are the very things that feminism pushes against. Can feminism and fashion authentically go hand in hand?" Read full article.

Eleanor Scholz, BA (Hons) Fashion Design, Birmingham City University

"It's not just female celebrities and actors who miss out on jobs because they are judged too old. It is you and I too. Try getting the same job after bringing up children. Women often miss out on career development due to family while our male counterparts get promotions and pay rises by sticking around. The-all-too-powerful film, beauty and fashion industries play a huge part in our lives creating an unachievable cultural ideology of womanhood. As some women strive to look more beautiful and younger, we often see devastating results as they go under the knife or swallow diet pills." Read full article.

Voting closes on 4 June, and the winner will be announced during Graduate Fashion Week on 7 June.


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