Yesterday evening Graduate Fashion Foundation, the charity behind Graduate Fashion Week in association with UK Fashion & Textiles Association (UKFT), hosted an exclusive reception at the Houses of Parliament, celebrating their strong ties with leading industry experts, bringing together fashion’s brightest young graduate talent and key policy makers.

Following in the footsteps of notable alumni including: Christopher Bailey MBE, Stella McCartney and Giles Deacon, Graduate Fashion Foundation showcased an exciting curated display of award winning 2017 graduate work, from multiple areas of specialism including design, marketing, journalism, photography and knitwear.

“This is a fantastic event to celebrate the successes of the past year and to look to the year ahead. We showcase the very best of BA graduate talent and tonight we come together with leading industry figures to promote the great work of the Graduate Fashion Foundation charity.”

Martyn Roberts, Creative and Managing Director of Graduate Fashion Week

The fashion industry is one of the UK’s most important industries, supporting over 800,000 jobs and contributing £26 billion to the economy. Graduate Fashion Foundation makes a significant contribution towards this, through promoting the industry and acting as a springboard for emerging new talent.

Over 200 top industry guests including CEOs, Founders, Directors, Buyers, HR, PR and Design Teams attended, alongside established designers including Phoebe English and Henry Holland to name a few. The guests gathered with charity trustees, ambassadors as well as Founders Jeff Banks CBE and Vanessa Denza MBE to celebrate the past year of successes and to launch the start of the 2018 year.

Models adorned in the designs of the graduates in attendance, circulated the room, demonstrating to the guests the creativity of our member universities emerging talent. London Beauty Artists and 3INA used their artistic skills to assure that the models make up was as impressive as the designs themselves, and the collections were steamed to showcase perfection by Propress.

“It’s fantastic for a designer like me to be involved in the mentoring scheme and get to see how these graduates progress in the world and hopefully be able to assist them along that journey. Tonight is a great showcase of everything from the sponsors, the designers, the graduates and everything coming together to celebrate the work they do and I can’t wait for this year’s event.”

Holly Fulton, Founder and Creative Director, Holly Fulton

Host Damian Collins, MP – Chairman of The Culture, Media and Sports Committee, opened the reception, followed by Hilary Alexander OBE, the charity’s Industry Trustee and passionate supporter.

Graduate Fashion Foundation Chairman and Mothercare CEO Mark Newton-Jones, spoke about the importance of Graduate Fashion Week as an International platform for creating employment opportunities for UK graduates within the fashion capitals of the world as well as adding value to companies.

“This evening has been a great success, celebrating the coming together of the British Fashion Industry and the future of the creative talent. This event is important to Graduate Fashion Foundation as it is our opportunity to showcase both the fantastic work of the wonderful graduates we support, and the charities work and events throughout the year."

Mark Newton Jones, Chairman and Mothercare CEO

Furthermore, Mark announced the 2017 launch of the Graduate Fashion Week Protégé Project, the charities mentoring scheme especially created to support a core selection of graduates for two years, following their graduation. GFW also launched a series of nationwide masterclasses in collaboration with partner universities. These extra-curricular professional talks provide much needed preparation for the students and key tips on life after graduation.

“I’ve been mentoring Amy Vanderwel at TU at Sainsbury’s. We have been spending a lot of time in the studio and in Coventry where they are based. Mentoring on behalf of Graduate Fashion Week is about giving back and helping graduates through the system and I love that!”

Oliver Spencer, Founder and Creative Director, Oliver Spencer

During the evening, the Chairman highlighted key 2017 sponsors Swarovski, Marks & Spencer, Tu at Sainsburys, Clarks and Smartfocus and their continued to support developing talent in the UK. These companies among other partners remain committed to the charity year on year and Graduate Fashion Foundation work closely with them to ensure they secure the very best talent.

“The UK produces £9 billion worth of fashion and textiles every year and is home to some of the world’s best designer graduates. UKFT believes it is vital we support the emerging talent within our vibrant industry to ensure continued success and for the fifth year running we are delighted to partner with Graduate Fashion Foundation to unite leading industry figures and key policy makers at the Houses of Parliament.”

Nigel Lugg, Chairman of UKFT

Now closing its 26th year, Graduate Fashion Week brings the latest innovative and exciting emerging talent to the world’s attention, showcasing the designers of tomorrow in a four-day event. With thousands of the most promising students from around the world taking part each June, the four-day event attracts 30,000 guests, features 24 catwalk shows and 40+ exhibition stands, alongside a packed schedule of live talks and workshops from leading names in the fashion and retail industry. Each year the event attracts a wide array of top national and international industry professionals & recruiters who use this opportunity to spot the best new talent gathered under one roof.

An unrivalled platform for the promotion of new talent, Graduate Fashion Week bridges the gap between graduation and employment and is responsible for launching the careers of some of the most successful designers of our time. It represents the future of creative design talent and showcases the work of 1000’s of the very best fashion graduates, with over 400 on the catwalk alone.

To mark the charities 25th anniversary in 2016, the first lifetime patrons of Graduate Fashion Week were announced; Christopher Bailey MBE, Victoria Beckham OBE, Nick Knight OBE, and Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE RDI.

The event saw the attendance of the charities Global Ambassadors including Henry Holland, Holly Fulton, Mandi Lennard, Caryn Franklin MBE, Iain R Webb and Gareth Pugh.

Guests viewed work from the Best of Graduate Fashion Week 2017;

Halina North - Winner of the Christopher Bailey Gold Award & Hilary Alexander Trailblazer in partnership with Swarovski

Irene D'Antonio - Marks & Spencer Womenswear Award Winner

Laura Gillings - Tu at Sainsbury’s Womenswear Scholarship Winner

Amy Vanderwal - Tu at Sainsbury’s Menswear Scholarship Winner

Daniel Rynne - Debenhams Menswear Award Winner

Maddie Williams  - Catwalk Textiles Award

Kate Clark – GFW Catwalk Finalist

Claire Tagg – GFW Finalist and Marks & Spencer Womenswear Award runner up

Frankie Dean - GFW Catwalk Finalist

Abisola Akanni - GFW Catwalk Finalist

Bethany Griffiths – GFW Catwalk Finalist

Po Chieh Chiu – Winner of Swarovski International Catwalk Competition 

Catherine Watts – Mothercare Childrenswear Award Winner

Genevieve Devine – 2016 Tu at Sainsbury’s Womenswear Scholarship Winner whos collection has gone on to sell in Sainsburys nationwide

Charnice Blaize – ASOS Future Talent Communications Award Winner

Megan Davies – Clarks Footwear Award Winner

Alannah Cooper – Fashion Photography Award Winner

Megan Evans – YKK Accessories Award Winner

Caroline Booth – Fashion Marketing Award Winner

Che-Ling Shek – New Fashion Media Award Winner

Yingi Goma – Smartfocus People’s Choice Award Winner


Attendees on the evening included Henry Holland, Holly Fulton, Caryn Franklin, Fabio Piras, Mandi Lennard and Iain R Webb. We're looking forward to seeing where the talented graduates head from here.