Fraser Miller, graduate of De Montfort University and joint winner of the Visionary Knitwear Award, took inspiration from the textures, patterns and styles of the wallpaper, curtain and tiles in the 70's, 80's and 90's. With the period covering interior design movements such as deconstructionism and post modernism, it's no surprise that Fraser's final collection was noted as visionary in it's construction, colour and shape.
We caught up with Fraser to hear more about the surreal experience of winning, why networking is so crucial for success and the importance of developing independence in your design process. Find out why he's discouraging the 'good grade attitude' below!
Firstly, a huge congratulations on winning at Graduate Fashion Week 2018! What award did you win?
I won the Visionary Knitwear Award!
How did it feel when your name was read out?
When Julien McDonald was building up to the award, I knew that I had won because he said there would be two winners, and only Jacaranda and I had interviews for the award. So I was sat there feeling so excited because I knew my name was going to be read out. A real crazy experience, surreal really.
Which university did you attend, and how do you think they prepared you for graduation?
I attended De Montfort University and they really do prepare you for the industry. The teaching there is of a very high standard, and they are always making you stretch that little bit further to better your collection and improve your critical analysis of the work.
They allow you to work out your own problems with the collection first, then you can touch base with the tutors to progress your project on further. This helps with choices in the industry at a later date because students have been independent and problem solved on their own first, allowing them to be self sufficient and not rely on the tutors to suggest new ideas or directions daily.
Describe the inspiration and concept behind your work.
The collection is called “An Abundance of Kin” and is based on the fact that the majority of my clothing were hand-me-downs and how it ran throughout the whole family. So I would be given a pair of huge trousers that my older brother had worn and I just wanted to make them my own and not be wearing "the older brothers trousers". Changing aspects of the clothing became a major highlight of the collection because of this. The zip detailing on the cuffs, collars and sleeve heads really allow an interchangeable and versatile collection that can be manipulated by the wearer.
I took inspiration for texture, silhouette and design from my family album photographs when my parents first got married in 1973, to Christmas 2010. My knit textures and patterns mostly came from the wallpaper, curtains, tiles and sofas of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s decor in my family abode.
Another influential contributor to my collection was my family’s heritage, from the kilt wearing fisherman of Aberdeen to minimalistic Danish Scandinavians. These key aspects of my heritage I truly tried to incorporate in my designs.
I looked at the fisherman’s knots, cable jumpers and daily lifestyles, which all inspired me to use cords, fairisle patterns and kilts, and contrasting that with the clean straight lines of Danish architecture and interiors.
What one thing would you recommend our readers do whilst at the event?
Whilst at Graduate Fashion Week I would highly recommend going to the industry talks and visiting with industry because that is where you are going to find out about the key factors they are looking for from potential applicants. And also that is where you will begin networking and sharing your talent. This is crucial in your progression in Fashion Design.
What do you plan to pursue now, and where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
Right now I am trying to keep all my doors open. I have several directions I could go in, start to work for a designer fashion house, a high-street brand or study an MA in London and start my own brand. In five years time I’ll still be open to where my career takes me. As long as I am working in men’s knitwear or menswear design, I’ll be happy.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in first year, what would it be?
One piece of advice to myself in first year would be really continue pushing for excellence and high achievements. And never get complacent with coasting along on “good grades". That lazy “good grade” attitude makes it SO much harder to pull it out of the bag in final year.
Interview and Words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins