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UEL student wins major award at Graduate Fashion Week

students studying at UEL

A University of East London student has scooped one of the biggest prizes of this year’s Graduate Fashion Week.

Chloe Draper was declared the winner of the Fashion Marketing Award following a gruelling interview process that took place on Saturday at the Old Truman Brewery in east London.

Chloe, from Hockley near Southend, was also critiqued on a business plan and marketing report she created for an online fashion company focused on older women.

“It feels amazing to win the award. It’s the best feeling in the world. I was so happy that my hard work in marketing has been recognised. It makes me very emotional,” said Chloe, who recently earned a degree in fashion design and fashion marketing.

Judges Michael Salac, a public relations director, and Craig Spellar, a fashion consultant, described Chloe’s work as “innovative” and “relevant”.

Dorota Watson, Head of Fashion and Textiles at UEL, was also impressed.

“I think in terms of winning an award it solidifies and puts a stamp on what the programme is delivering and what the industry thinks of what we’re delivering,” Dorota said.

Graduate Fashion Week has been taking place at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. The annual event showcases the work of over 1,000 of the best fashion students and graduates, and features 22 catwalk shows and exhibitions from over 40 universities.

Chloe’s win wasn’t the only highlight for UEL. On Sunday afternoon, the University sent 23 student collections down the catwalk in a show the official Graduate Fashion Week blog described as “awe-inspiring”.

“We were presented with giant glasses to cover giant faces, dresses with angles so killer, you could use them as a staircase, and statement garments teamed with statement banners,” the GFW team declared.

“We bow down, UEL. Well done, you clever bunch.”

From Danielle Spencer’s blindingly cheerful laser-cut hearts and arrows to Kayleigh Walmsley’s gender-blurring take on menswear, UEL creativity stormed the runway in front of nearly 1,000 industry insiders, journalists, and other guests.

Kayleigh and fellow fashion design student Vilune Daunoraite were selected to participate in the “Best of Graduate Fashion Week” Gala Show. Vilune was a finalist for the prestigious George Gold Award for best collection, while Kayleigh was nominated in the David Band Textiles category.

Liverpool-bred Kayleigh’s collection muses on football hooliganism and references the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, while Vilune’s collection offers ladylike pieces mixed with edgy laser-cut leather.

Press coverage of the UEL collections has been impressive, with student work featured on websites including British Vogue, The Times, The London Evening Standard, The Independent and Dezeen architecture and design magazine.

“This is such an important date in students’ diaries. It’s such a good platform for students to get their work out there to be spotted by industry and to be offered jobs. It’s such an amazing thing for us,” said fashion design student Sharan Samra.

Sharan created a menswear collection inspired by her trips to India. Many of the pieces were embellished with fur – a taste of things to come for Sharan, who will soon take up a position with London-based furrier RDK Designs.

Faye Hindle, who studied fashion design and marketing, said she decided to come to UEL primarily because GFW was among the opportunities the University offered its fashion students.

“Just seeing something that I’ve made and seeing my name on a screen in front of a thousand people makes me feel really good,” Faye said.

Fashion design student Jake Gooden said he felt as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Jake’s menswear collection was based on “the imperfection of being perfect” and incorporated techniques such as latex threading.

“It’s just a whole buzz being around everyone, the industry. I feel very welcomed into the industry. Coming from an unknown background, it gives you a platform to step up and meet people that you want to meet. It’s great to be here,” Jake said.

Fashion Programme Leader David Thomas said UEL’s accomplishments at this year’s Graduate Fashion Week were a testament to both the fashion programme and the hard work of its students.

“We’ve got a dedicated staff team and a small amount of students in each course. We focus on those students and they create great work because of it. You’re just seeing the start of that now,” he said.

Simon Robertshaw, Dean of UEL’s School of Arts and Digital Industries, said the University’s fashion programme is unique among its peers.

“We all know east London is the hotbed of creative talent. I think we want it to be slightly different. We want it to be edgy. We want to be involved in an urban culture,” he said.

“I think you’ll see that in many of our students’ collections. We’re slightly different from what you see in the mainstream and I think that’s what really marks us out as being different,” he continued.

Notes to Editors

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.