Second year fashion designers create new 2021 collection concepts for River Island menswear
Students were tasked to work in groups to create a new sub-brand and develop a commercial menswear range concept.
Despite the inevitable challenges of a global pandemic, and working to a virtually-enabled schedule with design sessions delivered online, UK high street retailer River Island recently inspired almost a hundred Year 2 BA Fashion Design students to create a new sub-brand and develop a commercial menswear range concept.
River Island’s menswear design manager and alumna of NTU Fashion Design, Vicki Hunt, challenged the students to target a different aesthetic to the one currently offered instore or online, and to engage with a new customer, with a focus on at least one of the brand’s core values of sustainability, inclusivity and charity fundraising.
Working in groups of six, the design brief required in-depth market and trend research to develop a strong concept for a sub-brand of 14 – 16 pieces, “to be commercial enough to sit in one of our flagship stores or online, but fresh enough to stand out from our current offer”
Within every group, each team member was also required to develop a full technical spec and pack for one specific garment of the capsule collection, reflecting the importance of this critical skill and the attention to detail required for the production of a commercial range.
In previous years, the Year 2 menswear project has involved the development of physical garments and an end showcase catwalk event. Undeterred by the limitations of the situation, River Island focused on the positives, challenging each student to think outside the box and find new ways to collaborate, innovate and present.
Vicki Hunt said “In a world where we are meeting less in person, think of ways to work together, inspire each other and showcase your designs. Could there be an online show, a video, social media campaign, virtual catwalk...even without final garments you can get creative!
Taking the brief on board, many presented impressive creative visuals and bespoke presentation backdrops in MS Teams to reflect their collection concepts.
Following 15 final group presentation sessions early in 2021, River Island took a few days to consider and review all the submissions. Vicki said “The standard of work produced across this project has been amazing, the attention to detail has been impressive. Every group had its great elements and something to offer, and for that reason we decided to choose a highlight garment in each one to acknowledge that.”
The RI design team then narrowed the final decision down to two runners up - teams Rebirth and Not Done Yet - and one final winner, team Xashi.
Vicki said “The decision was a really tough one, there was some fantastically creative work right across the project and I’d like to congratulate everyone for their efforts and enthusiasm. We ultimately chose Xashi as the winners for a combination of their creativity and their impressive teamwork .The pandemic has made us realise just how important it is to work effectively in a team, and the way they brought their ideas together is a fantastic example of this.”