Hilary Alexander OBE, our Industry Trustee and celebrated Journalist, recently judged the FatFace Graphic T-Shirt Competition. With a distinguished reputation and extensive career in the industry, Hilary has spent time as the Fashion Director at the Telegraph, and was named Journalist of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in both 1997 and 2003.
Having spent seven years working closely with Graduate Fashion Week, Hilary is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to success in the industry. Post-judging at FatFace a couple of weeks ago, we spent some time finding out what drives her passion for working with the future of fashion, why sustainability is an opportunity for creativity and exactly what you should be doing to prepare for GFW18.
What made you want to be involved with GFW?
Oh, I have been involved since it began seven years ago. I love seeing new designers, I particularly love seeing what students are doing and when I went to the very first one, which was in the Islington business design centre. I couldn’t believe that this incredible, amount of creativity and excitement and innovation was coming out of students from all of these universities, many of which I’d never even kind of sort of heard of, you know Leeds, Newcastle Northumbria, Edinburgh, Somerset was in there in the old days. It was just amazing because, I think at the time the whole idea of Graduate Fashion was sort of very London centric. It was just a couple of colleges and this just opened up the whole world of BA Fashion Graduates.
Recently, you judged the FatFace Graphic T-Shirt Competition. What about the winning design enticed you?
Well, Stephen Hawking died just a few days ago and so I guess I’d been reading all his quotes and pronouncements on the stars, the cosmos, space and the universe. This particular design just reminded me and that’s why I chose it. The second one, the runner up, I chose because it made me laugh.
Graduate Fashion is special due to it's freedoms. The graduates act as pioneers for new political movements with their designs. There is a lot happening around the concept of sustainability at the moment specifically- how do you think students should incorporate this?
Well I think, already we are seeing a lot of final year collections, and we have been in-fact for probably the last 5, 6, 7 or 8 years, where students are voluntarily pursuing sustainability, so in many senses, they are already a jump ahead of us. But I think, now what is happening is that in many universities, the whole concept of sustainability or responsible ethical clothing, responsible manufacture, is actually been built into the curriculum.
So that it is actually a form, a discipline and I would like to see it as absolutely a definite for every single BA Fashion Degree. I thought we could maybe we could say that all final year collections have to be made from clothing that would otherwise go to Landfill. Either finding your collections have to be made from it or at some point each student must do a collection based on clothing that otherwise would have gone to landfill. I am thrilled that Christopher Raeburn is one of our judges for the FatFace Competition because he has been pioneering, salvage, recyclable, ethical and sustainable and environmental since he began, and that must be like 10 years.
So you will be at Graduate Fashion Week in the summer. What kind of advice can you give to the students to stand out from the crowd amongst the hundreds of collections that are showing?
Right, be prepared, have a name card with your mobile, your website if you’ve got one and your email address. Maybe have a smaller version of your portfolio that you can hand out, because you’re not going to be able to give your portfolio to every person that comes along. Be on the stand, talk and engage with the head hunters or the department store reps or the manufacturing representatives. Talk to them, find out what sort of things they are looking for, engage and be proactive and reactive at the same time.