I count myself very lucky to be involved with Graduate Fashion Week. It's a spectacular platform for emerging creatives. As a disruptive fashion lover, it was where I took the diversity initiative: All Walks Beyond the Catwalk in order to connect with future visionaries.
One of the things we asked of graduates this time round, was to tell us what mattered most to them. As you can see from this wall they posted! Three key things came up over and over: Diversity, Sustainability and Happiness. These things matter to me too and the pressure many of our young creatives are under, to introduce new pro-social ideas to an exploitative industry fixated on profit for the few, does concern me.
One of the developments I wanted to introduce this time round, was better mental health conversations. Survive and Thrive part 1 is now available as a podcast and delivers self esteem and resilience tools for listeners. This initiative was well received by press such as the Guardian Just as importantly is was supported by top industry professionals who generously talked about their own resilience struggles and staying sane in a tough industry.
My thanks to journalist and fashion editor Charlotte Gush, art director and brand consultant Natalie Hasseck, eco- designer Omi of Vin + Omi (pictured right) and photographer Jermaine Francis. I was very humbled by their voluntary presence and insightful words of advice - a brilliant gift of honesty and empathy to the next generation - who were let me tell you, devouring every word.
When the time came to present the gala show, I was thrilled to be wearing a design from one of the graduates. I had spotted this spectacular dress about made from reclaimed yarn and strips of rubber from discarded inner tubes earlier on my travels and knew it needed an outing on the big catwalk. Thank you Jayne Barne from the University of South Wales.