The Glasgow School of Art is without a doubt one of the most renowned and respected university-level institutions for future creatives in the country. It seems to be impossible to even read an article or watch a video about the city that wouldn’t include some information about the school. The students usually describe the place as a free, creative space, that despite being hard to get into, motivates the students to express their ideas and provides them with all the required skills. In the 2017 documentary created by i-D Magazine, one of the Fashion and Textile students said:“I think it did have a reputation of, maybe perhaps, a rough area, but I feel like creativity has always lived in Glasgow”.
Recently I was provided with a chance to attend their annual fashion show. As a person deeply interested in fashion, not only from the perspective of business and media but also from its often forgotten niche and artistic side, I felt excited to finally see the real outcome of students’ work. I arrived at the venue quite early, had a quick look at the posters and leaflets laying everywhere around me, then had a nice quick chat with two students in the gender-neutral toilets.“My friend worked so hard for this”, one of them told me.
The show, which seemed like it was almost sold-out, started with a quick presentation of the second year students and the theme of White Shirt/Black Silhouette. In total, twelve students presented their work which for me concentrated on deconstruction and playing with shapes. It’s a very popular approach to fashion design in art schools. After a short presentation of second-year students, over thirty designers of third-year Fashion and Textiles presented three outfits each. The work of each of them was categorized as either Embroidery, Fashion, Print, Knit or Weave. It wasn’t hard to notice the source of inspiration in some of the work presented that day. Print students impressed me the most, with some of the designs including a true WOW-factor. Colorful and vibrant outfits, simple in their form, like a set of total-printed shorts and a shirt put together with a pair of plain white trainers reminded me of designers like Jeremy Scott from the brand Moschino or current things we can see at Prada.
After the show, I caught up with one of the students – Kelly Sloan, whose work concentrated on Embroidery at its very best. After Kelly told me she came to Glasgow School of Art straight from college, I finally realised the phenomenon of the famous school. A goal-focused, hard-working environment of people who are being taught how to embrace their creative visions by staying true to themselves.“For me, I definitely think it’s colour and texture that inspires me the most” Kelly told me after the show.“Whether it being on a building or within a random object, I always seem to be drawn to these elements. These elements also help me develop my further as I begin to look closely and focus on these different qualities”.
As I have mentioned before, different influences and designers of inspiration could be noticed within Kelly’s work. It’s important to know your path and direction at the beginning of any creative career. I asked Kelly to tell me a bit about artists and designers that inspired her designs.“I am inspired by different designers for each project I’m presented with. But if we’re talking fashion show, then avant-garde was a huge inspiration as my goal was to showcase large and intense fashion pieces. Viktor & Rolf were also a prominent inspiration for my fashion show garments as I’m a huge fan of the scale and silhouette of their collections.”
In the i-D Magazine documentary about Glasgow which I mentioned above, we can hear about the hard-working environment and the amount of effort students of the school need to put in to finish all the required tasks. I decided to ask Kelly about this as well.“[The Glasgow School of Art is] Extremely hard working!” she told me without hesitation.“As I went straight into the third year at GSA with a direct entry from college, I wasn’t aware of the workload at The School of Art and the thing that’s struck me the most was the work ethic. Most days you’re in from 10 AM until 10 PM and that’s just the complete norm for everyone to be working those hours in order to get stuff done.”
There is no doubt that for many people, fashion is still seen as wearing crazy outfits on a catwalk and selling underdesigned garments for way too much money. I finished my conversation with Kelly by asking her: What would you like the readers to know about creating a collection and putting on a fashion show? Just so they can understand your position better…”.After a short while, Kelly replied: “Fashion industry is so huge that I think it can be difficult for designers to get their name out there and be known [by a larger audience]. I think my biggest goal is for my work to be noticed and recognized for its style, really just to be successful with selling my creations to a large crowd and be able to make a living from something I love to do so much.”
Follow Kelly Sloan on Instagram – @sloankel and her portfolio account @ksloantextiles