Harriet Eccleston has certainly achieved a lot in the short time since she graduated from Northumbria University in 2017. After being shortlisted for the Tu Scholarship at GFW17, Harriet was awarded the Young Designer of the Year 2017 Award at the Midlands Fashion Awards. Since then, she has worked for one of the UK’s most respected brands, and began working full time on her own label.
Recently, Harriet was invited to Moscow to present her designs at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia, as part of a Global Talents initiative. Below, she tells us how this opportunity came about, what she’s up to next and the biggest lesson she’s learnt in starting her label.
How did you get the opportunity to show in Moscow?
Russian Fashion Council offered an opportunity for 10 emerging designers from around the world to show their collections on the catwalk scheduled at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. I applied and was successful, being given fully sponsored catwalk, travel and accommodation which was definitely an opportunity that I would not otherwise have at this stage in my career!
What was your first impression of the Moscow and of MBFW Russia?
Moscow is beautiful. It started to snow as soon as we got out of the car which felt really magical. Before the event began, we (the Global Talents participants) were taken to Pavlovsky Posad & Kolomna. It was amazing to experience Russian culture outside Moscow, to see the heritage and skills within traditional Russian scarf production — and taste the local food!
I was first struck by the scale of the event — the catwalk was huge and suddenly everything felt very exciting and real! There was a brilliant support team as soon as the show day started, with an amazing show director and back stage assistant which was really reassuring on such a highly anticipated day.
What was something unexpected about your experience in Moscow?
I had hoped that as a group of young designers we would all get on, but I hadn't expected the level of encouragement and support that would be shared within the group during and after the experience. I am really grateful for the friendships that I have made with young designers in a similar position to me!
What have you been working on since graduating university in 2017?
Since graduating, I worked at Paul Smith as a pattern cutting and grading assistant, during which I took part in an event called Midlands Fashion Awards. I was fortunate to win Young Designer of the Year 2017 and meet Debra Hepburn, cofounder of Young British Designers.
I always knew that one day I would like to have my own label. The pieces fell into place at the end of 2017 and by January I had left work and started to work on my label full time! I launched my first collection in February this year which will be on sale for Autumn Winter 2019. Over the last year I have also had the opportunity to work on a variety of freelance projects as a designer and pattern cutter.
What has been the biggest lesson in running your brand and business as a young designer?
The biggest lesson is to take every opportunity, however big or small, that presents itself; you never know what it might lead to or who you might meet.
This year has already been action-packed. What's next for you?
I am currently seeing my first season through the production stage and working on my next season for Spring Summer 2020. There are exciting times ahead and I look forward to seeing what the next few months will bring!