Graduate Fashion Week in London is a mammoth springboard for emerging talent and every year quantifies and strengthens the UK’s position as being the premier showcase to global buyers, creative directors, MD’s, CEO’s, opinion formers and generally the key movers and shakers in the wider Fashion Industry, that the UK’s Universities are producing the next generation of those aforementioned creative movers and shakers, whether from the UK or further a field.
Following on from the success of the previous Graduate Fashion Week collections, now in the fourth year of their partnership, Retail Giants, Tu at Sainsbury’s, has proudly announced the launch of two new menswear and womenswear ranges, including the addition of Childrenswear for the first time. Furthermore, Tu have given two fashion students a scholarship and a year’s paid employment at Tu.
Molly Hopwood, from the University of Leeds, is the winner of the Menswear scholarship. In her designs she explores the universal appeal of design and particularly the effects denim production has on the environment.
As a result of her research, Molly’s collection evolved with designs focused on recycling and upcycling; specifically, the use of repurposed, organic cottons. The collections silhouettes take reference from the U.S Army and Ranchers – celebrating the history of ‘working’ denim.
All the denim used within the collection, including the worker jacket and trousers, contain post consumer waste and are finished using lasering techniques – reducing overall water developed using sustainable materials and techniques across classic use, chemicals and energy. Prints across the collection, featured on shirting and tees, denim styles and cotton shirting. are achieved using digital printing techniques, opposed to traditional processes that require excess water. All cotton garments are composed of either recycled cotton, or cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learnt from this process ?
From this process, is to not be afraid to push boundaries with design. While developing my collection at Tu, I have explored so many developments in the sustainability of dying, denim washing, production and fabrication that I never knew were possible. I think it’s so important to design consciously with the future in mind and Tu has helped me to explore my ideas while considering sustainability at every stage of the design process.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given ?
Oliver Spencer has been my mentor during my scholarship this year and he reminded me that sustainability is a journey. We’re not going to be able to solve this issue overnight but every difference we can make now is important.
If you could Style anyone who would it be ?
If I could style anyone I would go back in time and choose James Dean. He’s had such a huge influence on menswear and was the epitome of casual dressing. He also popularised denim in ‘Rebel without a cause’ and made jeans and a t-shirt just so cool.
If I could collaborate with one brand it would be Patagonia. They are the pioneers in sustainable fashion and to have access to their fabrics and technologies would be incredible. I just love everything their brand stands for.
In your words, describe the collection ?
It is a sustainable menswear collection mainly revolving around denim and its’ workwear heritage. Fabrics contain recycled yarns and we tried to use as little water and chemicals in the production as possible. The collection has a vintage feel with Japanese printed jersey and patch worked denim.
The key inspiration for the collection was denim’s rich history and culture and especially its’ workwear influences. I was inspired by classic silhouettes and wanted to design the collection with sustainability in mind. I looked to vintage Japanese prints for inspiration for tees and shirts and American workwear for denim silhouettes.
What are the key pieces in it?
I would say the key pieces are the denim worker jacket, the canvas over shirts and the printed revere collar shirts. I think they’re pieces that are great for layering and just timeless pieces to have in your wardrobe.
A pair of denim dungarees. Practical and a classic piece, not considered the most stylish but I’m trying to bring them back. Check out the pair in the collection!
Have you ever bought a piece of clothing and regretted it ?
I usually try and shop as consciously as I can however I have often been swayed by a denim boiler suit and always end up looking less stylish and more plumber.
Elvis Presley. He impacted popular culture around the world through his music, movies and style and remains a major influence in menswear today.
What would be the one piece of clothing you would rescue from your home in the event of a fire?
I’d have to save my vintage denim chore jacket. It’s my favourite second hand find and I’d be gutted to lose such a special piece.