There is so much fashion talent in Norwich
Emma Harrowing creates a fashion shoot featuring some of the textiles that are currently on display at the Norwich University College of the Arts and asks: 'where will all our talent fashion graduates go from here?' Photography by Bill Smith.
When there is a recession it seems that people become more creative; traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet and sewing become popular and a waste not, want not mentality prevails.
Norwich is in the midst of graduate shows as another class begins its tentative steps towards seeking employment and it seems as if our students are embracing the fact that money is tight and budgets are being slashed by creatively producing pieces that contradict the excess of fashion by pushing the boundaries of design.
First year fashion degree students from the Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) thrilled audiences last month with their varying takes on deconstruction and reconstruction. Chana Watson showed how men's shirts can be reconfigured into a dress and other designs included an old tired skirt being given a new lease of life as it was turned sideways to create an edgy skirt that oozes style.
Now as the third year textile students at NUCA get ready for their final assessment and public exhibition of their work, there is a sense of getting back to basics in fashion textiles as the actual design process becomes a fashion trend in itself.
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Textile student Rebecca Leathers used laser cutting techniques to create a textured, embossed pattern on leather (a current trend on the high street this season), while students such as Ranya Gashut proved how new technology can create beautifully colourful printed silk to be used for fashion garments such as scarves. Lauren Simmons' screen-printed leggings (another summer fashion trend) proved that handmade clothing still had a place on the fashion scene.
The number of talented fashion designers in Norwich is growing, but where will all this flair for fashion go? Unfortunately the majority of talented graduates will seek jobs in London or even Paris and Milan, and probably in one of the big cities in the UK who can offer careers in retail, manufacturing and design to cash in on their raw talent.
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New initiatives such as the Retail Skills Academy and Norwich Fashion Week aim to highlight the career opportunities in Norfolk for budding fashionistas by bridging the gap between education and business.
However, it seems that the fashion manufacturing sector in Norwich has long gone since the likes of shoe manufacturers Bally and Start-rite and textile manufacturer Courtaulds closed their doors many years ago. It's a shame considering that our local economy could benefit from offering talented fashion, textile and design students opportunities in the job market after graduation.
The final year textile students work will be exhibited at NUCA on George Street until June 26.
To see the Life Matters fashion shoot with some of the NUCA textile students work click on the photo gallery link at the top right hand side of this page.