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Fashion Design students create innovative menswear capsule collections for River Island

Second year students impress senior River Island designers and are awarded placements

Tone Def collection
Tone Def collection line-up

Year Two students on the BA (Hons) Fashion Design course at Nottingham Trent University have recently worked on a unique menswear project for River Island. The menswear students in their second year were split into teams and challenged with designing an Autumn Winter 2018 capsule collection for River Island’s fashion forward male customer.

High street fashion retailer River Island are renowned for designing stylish, distinctive, fresh and confident menswear, appealing to young fashion lovers globally. The students considered the River Island brand position and customer focus when working towards their collections, addressing everything from commerciality and cut, to marketing strategies such as differentiating their offerings, along with new ways of engaging the customer through branding.

Senior Menswear Designer Vicki Hunt, an alumna of the Fashion Design course at NTU, and Menswear Design Controller Matthew Braun were involved in the project from its outset back in late 2017. Following the initial presentations of ideas and interim project reviews, Vicki and Matthew returned to NTU to view the final collection presentations in a vibrant evening catwalk show this February.

The winning team with Vicki, Matt and Fashion Design lecturer and project leader Susan Walton
The winning team with Vicki, Matt and Fashion Design lecturer Sue Walton

First place went to Tone Def, an electric collection inspired by British rave culture. Their concept, spot the raver, was inspired by customers who are in the office by day, and raving by night. Made up of students Xin Chen, Jane Dark, Alisha Kumar, Sora Park, Peiyi Song and Sarah Willacy, the team’s prize will see them spending a day with River Island designers in the London offices, as well as experiencing the River Island Show Studio.

Laws Against Nature were placed in close second, for their 666 collection inspired by a defiance of the laws of nature. They drew on fortune telling, spirits and the mysterious to create a collection full of impressive cuts and prints. This team consisted of students Runmin Chen, Eleanora Christodoulou, Olivia Davies, Lydia Jackson, Isabelle Pennington-Edmead and Kexin Tian. The best line-up illustration went to Chenla, a collection addressing the challenges of mental health, whilst Minus Sixty, a vibrant collection fusing sportswear with tailoring, was recognised as the best concept.

In addition to the team awards, Vicki and Matthew wanted to acknowledge individual achievement on the project. Elle Barclay, Jane Dark, Olivia Davis, Anna Keomegi, Alisha Kumar, Savannah Smith and Lucy Wood all impressed enough to be invited to work with River Island on a customisation project over the Easter break. Jodie Sanghera was also acknowledged as creating the best smart outfit.

Olivia Davies and her winning jacket
Olivia Davies and her winning jacket design

The star piece of the whole project was awarded to Olivia Davies for her embroidered green cord jacket. Olivia will take up a summer placement with River Island, as well as being mentored throughout her final year. Olivia was delighted with her achievement, commenting: “It was unbelievable, I never imagined this happening to me! I have really pushed myself this year, and have absolutely loved it. When they called my name, I was brought to tears; such a huge achievement and my best so far.”

Speaking about the quality of the students’ work, Matthew and Vicki were hugely impressed. Matthew said: “I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this collaboration. As a brand, we have always been known for our work with universities and helping new graduates, but this particular project has over achieved all of our expectations.”

He continued: “The calibre of work shown across a relatively short period of time shows the sheer talent coming from Nottingham Trent University, and great for the future of the industry. I was most impressed with the way each group thought like a brand; the collection, the social aspect, the branding, the videography. It was all considered.”

Vicki said: “We had a great time running this project, and it was brilliant to get back in touch with Nottingham Trent University, having studied there myself. The quality of the students’ work was incredible for second year, and the enthusiasm and personalities of the students really shone through.”

She added: “As a company we love investing in the next generation of fashion designers, and it has been a fantastic experience for us. It was a really fun and rewarding project to work on, and we will definitely be doing more in the future.”

For more insights into the project, explore the hashtag #RIxNTU on Instagram.

Published on 27 February 2018
  • Category: Culture; School of Art & Design