Natalie Brotherton, Fashion Futures 2016
Graduating from BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles, University of East London
Tell us about your graduate collection:
The inspiration for my final collection came from the Hope to Nope exhibition at the Design Museum last summer. From the political ideas in the exhibition I explored protests, political art such as graffiti, Tracey Emin’s blankets, and David Oliviera’s recent #nowyouseeme sculptures. I also took inspiration from the Grenfell Tower incident and wanted to work with the idea of having to do with what you have so my whole collection was upcycled from old clothes.
The message of my work is that we need to change how we do things for the environment and the community, the prints and applique on my work express rebellion against the system and the need to change how it works.
The creative process was long as everything I did was time consuming. Very little was sewn on a machine so it took me 3 days to stitch up my first woven sample. I did a lot of experimenting with print so I made a lot of trial and error samples, some worked straight away, whereas others had to be redesigned twice, even 3 times.
I love my collection because it speaks to me in a big way. I’ve had a lot of people comment on it saying that they loved the bright colours and the waistcoat I printed the Grenfell heart onto has been the most popular piece.
How has your uni experience been?
I originally intended to learn how to sew so that I could make my own clothes but then when the opportunity arose for me to carry on I thought that it might be a good idea. Since the first day I walked onto the college campus I have learned so much and have come so much farther than I thought I ever would.
I think that my biggest challenge was university. I pushed myself so hard and sometimes the results were….questionable, but it gave me the opportunity to be more free with my work and not be so confined to one idea. I am also extremely self critical so experimenting also meant that I wouldn’t be too disappointed in how something came out because I didn’t know how anything would come out until I tested it. So that being said, my biggest obstacle was myself, but I got over it by learning to give myself freedom to learn.
This year at uni has been tough on everyone as there has been a lot of stress on all sides but I have learned a lot about myself, my skills, and my passion.
What’s next for you?
Now that I have completed my collection I feel a weight off of my shoulders but I would still like to carry on the idea of upcycling old clothing into new pieces, maybe even helping to run some workshops with FAD on the subject.
I want to have a small business where I make everything purely from old clothes but I don’t plan on it becoming a booming business, not for a while yet anyway. I may still go into print designing but I have been told that my work looks more like stationery designs or prints for children’s books so I may sway into that direction.
Did taking part in Fashion Futures help you?
Fashion Futures helped me boost my confidence and I learned that I am more interested in designing prints than the actual clothes themselves. The one piece of advice I would give to someone doing fashion futures right now is to just be passionate about what you are doing. My work ethic is that if I don’t believe in or connect to my work, then I won’t be happy with it. So as long as it fits into the brief you are given, go ahead and just do it.