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Graduate Fashion Week: Meet our winners

The world’s largest showcase of undergraduate fashion talent was held at the Old Truman Brewery from 2 to 5 June, with over 40 universities and fashion institutions showcasing garments and portfolios of the very best fashion graduates. We catch up with Greg Brears (BA (hons) Fashion Design) and Ciara Neale (BA (hons) Fashion Business & Promotion), who both won prestigious awards.

In its 28th year, Graduate Fashion Week brings exciting emerging talent showcasing the designers of the future. It featured 25 catwalk shows and exhibition stands, alongside a packed schedule of talks, workshops and masterclasses from leading names in the fashion and retail industry giving an opportunity for students to put their work in front of key members of the fashion industry.

Each nominee was put forward by their individual course leaders, ensuring there was an exceptionally high standard of entries to choose from. Students were judged on their technical skills, innovation and imagination.

The annual event is helping bridge the gap between graduation and employment and offers students a chance to network with the industry, meet face to face with recruiters in order to kick start their careers with some of the world’s most successful brands.

The Old Truman Brewery was bursting with creativity - everyone involved shared their passion for fashion. From oversized gowns to fluorescent garments our Fashion Design students presented a catwalk show full of talent and personality.

The talent of tomorrow

Students were nominated for a number of prestigious awards including Accessories Award by YKK, Fashion Design portfolio Award, Fashion Marketing Award, and Fashion Publication awards by Drapers.

The event ended with an exclusive Gala Award Show announcing the award winners and celebrating the success of every graduate.

BCU celebrated two winners who were recognised for their outstanding work – The Best Menswear Award was presented to a BA (Hons) Fashion Design graduate Greg Brears whereas BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion graduate Ciara Neale received the New Fashion Media Award.

Practical doesn’t mean boring

Greg’s collection was inspired by utilitarian workwear, with models taking to the catwalk in oversized raincoats, hefty overalls and fisherman style hats – all in earthy hues. Pieces in Greg’s clothing range feature massive pockets, exposed zips and leather chest panels. His collection ‘Panelled Engineer’ is situated around the engineering elements of artist Antony Gormley.

In the future Greg would like to continue designing workwear and utility wear as he enjoys making things functional and using heavy detailing.

"I personally like movement in my clothes, so loose fitting clothing is generally what I like to design" said Greg.

Breaking taboos

Ciara Neale impressed judges with her innovative ideas for a female focused sexual health app called ‘Pinkie’s’ which is designed for young women to express themselves through body confidence and educate about their health and sex. The idea behind the project was inspired by the gap in educational support towards sex, heightened by outdated curriculums and the taboo subject surrounding women’s bodies and sexual pleasure.

Through collaboration with graphic designers, Ciara established a clear brand identity using graphics and visuals targeted to young women.

During the project Ciara has developed strong analytical thinking, improved negotiation skills and has become more confident than ever. She refers to Birmingham as a great city to express your creativity, and says that the skills and knowledge gained on Fashion, Business and Promotion course has helped her to achieve her career goals.

Ciara is desiring a career in visual communication and branding based around women’s lifestyle.

It’s safe to say this year that Graduate Fashion Week was a great success. Congratulations to all students who took part and we look forward seeing some amazing creations brought to life at next year’s show!

Could you be a future BCU Graduate Fashion Week award winner? Find out more about the School of Fashion & Textiles courses.