For the first time in its 40 year history, London Fashion Week had to rely on digital showrooms, virtual catwalks and interactive podcasts, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Now time for Graduate Fashion Week to follow suit and showcase innovative student designs and final major projects across a series of virtual events in a bid to keep the graduate fashion world moving during the global pandemic.
Where typically, the fashion week is an annual celebration of national and international graduate art and design hosted in London and attracting an array of influential members of the fashion community, a new digital format for 2020 meant that things were about to be very different for those involved.
The coronavirus outbreak meant that university students were sadly unable to present their work at Graduate Fashion Week, with many even completing their final major projects from their own home. In light of the pandemic, the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF) proposed a host of professional collaborations and digital events across its social media platforms to showcase graduate fashion work in the fields of design, photography, media, styling and many more. This meant that final major projects would still receive the recognition and visibility they deserve by industry specialists.
These initiatives included a professional partnership with ‘The Dots’ to offer students visibility and connect them with industry professionals, a series of webinars to provide support and guidance for students with speakers including Alexandra Shulman and Viv Groskop, a collaboration with Samsung KX to host the fashion innovation award and a fresh partnership with the app everyone has obsessed over during lockdown, Tik Tok.
Inspired by the interactive app, fashion students were challenged to design and produce Tik Tok merchandise that was both fashionable, fun and reflected the creative nature of the social media platform. Two students from each university were handpicked to materialise their merchandise vision at a top factory in London, following the design and manufacturing process from start to finish to produce quirky pieces that would be gifted to their VIP and creator community. The Tiktok residency has aimed to keep students feeling creative and innovative during such uncertain times. The competition was judged by the Tik Tok team alongside designers Henry Holland and Zandra Rhodes. You can view all the students’ creative journeys on the app by using the TiktokxGFF hashtag.
The annual fashion awards have also been adapted to mirror the current circumstances and challenges faced by fashion students at such an unprecedented time. The catwalk awards have been superseded by a selection of new awards celebrating talents from fashion illustration and fashion range planning to technical drawing and fashion conception as well as an adaptation award to acknowledge student endeavours in spite of the challenges they faced from the pandemic.
With fashion students shortlisted into the final three for each award and the final judging stages just on the horizon, the overall winners of each award are due to be announced during the Autumn season as well as a further opportunity for students to present their fashion projects and portfolios (that they weren’t able to complete due to the lockdown) during what hopes to be an exciting live event in London. The event will include catwalk shows, visual portfolio showrooms and a fashion presentation. In the meantime, the GFF are spanning their virtual content across the upcoming months to reflect the talent, creativity and vision of the fashion students shortlisted for awards.
As the 2020 Graduate Fashion Week virtual celebrations draw to a close in a very different way to what we could have ever imagined, be sure to stay tuned with the live events and keep yourself updated with the final stages of the awards across the GFW social media channels. From the team here at FROW, we want to congratulate all fashion students shortlisted for awards and wish the best of luck to those who have reached the final three for their category. We look forward to seeing the upcoming events and long for next year’s celebration of student fashion for the 30th anniversary of Graduate Fashion Week.