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Looking At Graduate Fashion Week With Christopher Raeburn

May 29, 2018

Fashion | by Ross Pollard


30,000 guests, 1,000 students, 40 universities, 25 catwalk shows, yes it’s time for Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) – one of the premier global events for showcasing fresh talent.

Previous fashion stars to have shown at Graduate Fashion Week include Christopher Bailey, the first ever winner of the Gold Award; Stella McCartney; Giles Deacon; Matthew Williamson and Julien Macdonald. It’s fair to say that if you want to see the designers of tomorrow, this is the place you need to be.

We took the chance to chat to British icon and GFW Global Ambassador, Christopher Raeburn about the event and what it means to the industry.

Hi Christopher, Graduate Fashion Week is almost upon us. Can you tell us a little bit about how you’ll be involved?

It’s a great honour to have been asked to be a global ambassador for Graduate Fashion Week. I’ll be doing my best to spread the good work that our talented graduates are doing to the rest of the world. I’m also pleased and proud to have been asked to be one of a panel of judges who will decide the Gold Award at Graduate Fashion Week.

Graduate Fashion Week
Stefan Efobi from Manchester School of Arts

We love menswear here at Candid, and the industry is growing rapidly; do you think the freedom that it’s enjoying as it really finds its voice is inspiring a new generation to think of male clothing in the same way fashion has traditionally seen women’s fashion?

Great question; we’re definitely pleased about how the landscape has changed in the last ten years and, from a graduate perspective it’s great to know about the potential return that menswear can provide.

Graduate Fashion Week
2017 International Winner, Po-Cheih Chiu

From that same menswear perspective, what do you think we’ll see on the runway this year?

That’s the exciting thing – I’ll be going with an open mind and will look forward to seeing what our future designers have in store!

You’ve become well known for the ‘four R’s’: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Raeburn; will we see a continued move towards sustainability and ethically-sourced this year?

We can’t continue consuming in the way we are so I’ll be looking to the graduates to continue to innovate with their collections and really consider what the future of our industry could look like.

Graduate Fashion Week
2017 Best of Award Winner, Daniel Rynne

With twenty-five universities involved in catwalks during Graduate Fashion Week, it will be a busy schedule, what will you be looking for from the designers shows?

I’m looking forward to seeing the catwalks of course but equally important for me are graduate portfolios; I’m always looking for rounded individuals who are ready for work within larger companies or of course [to] start their own businesses.

Everyone remembers a great teacher; who do you remember?

Jane Howarth; she was my tutor from art college – her energy and motivational spirit was incredible and I’m still grateful to her nearly twenty years later.

Which is Graduate Fashion Week’s greater achievement, providing a spotlight for young people to get noticed, or the recruitment and mentoring elements that help the students take the next step?

For me the two things go hand-in-hand and it’s about the overall momentum that Graduate Fashion Week has garnered, which is so important.

Graduate Fashion Week
Stefan Efobi from Manchester School of Arts

What do wish you’d known when you studied fashion?

I studied before the digital revolution; before social media and when printed media was still the go-to… It might have been interesting to have insight into what the future was going to look like.

Graduate Fashion Week is a charity; how can people get involved in the week, or help support the charity with its work?

There’s plenty of information up here!

One of the things that comes up quite often with young designers is that they wish they’d picked up a few more business skills while studying. As someone who is incredibly busy with design work, running workshops, having your role as a Graduate Fashion Week Ambassador and running the label, what advice would you give to a young designer looking to start a label?

I think it’s important to do one thing well; finish jobs properly before moving on to the next thing and, with the right focus and ability to prioritise, anything is possible!

One final question… If you could change one thing about fashion education what would it be, and also, what’s the best thing about fashion courses?

Anybody studying fashion (or indeed any other course) should enjoy themselves as much a possible; the best thing is absolutely the freedom (a rare thing when later you’re worrying about plenty of things later on in your professional life), so use the time to experiment and push your creativity. There’s not much I’d change but I have to say a focus around industry projects is a must in my opinion; tailoring your work (and being flexible to a client’s needs) is critical in the real world.

Graduate Fashion Week runs from the 3rd to the 6th of June, and you can find schedules and ticket information on their website.

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