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‘Derry Design Collective’ Aim to Impress During London Fashion Week


Ten ‘up and coming’ designers from the North West of Ireland will get a unique opportunity to showcase their collections to an audience of global fashion experts and international press at an exclusive exhibitor event scheduled to take place at Fashion Enter London (FEL) during this February’s London Fashion Week.

The newly-formed ‘Derry Design Collective’ have been selected to travel to the capital following a special ‘pitching’ event held in the Fashion & Textile Design Centre in Derry.

The designers put forward their ‘perfect pitch’ to a panel of judges, including industry specialist Jenny Holloway, renowned CEO of FEL.

From bespoke leotards to Irish tweed menswear, the pitches also included traditional jewellery, print designs, luxury knitwear and fabrics, printed casualwear and children’s lifestyle clothing.

The Derry Design Collective

It was an inspiring day and the quality of the presentations and collections were acknowledged by the judges who paid tribute to the ‘creative prowess, unique signature and individual style’ of the winning designers.

The ‘pitching’ competition was part of a ‘Designer Business Start Up Programme’ organised by Derry City & Strabane District Council in partnership with the Inner City Trust through the Fashion & Textile Design Centre and FEL, which supports emerging designers and helps to take them commercially to market through a series of workshops led by industry experts.

The bespoke scheme – which is also sponsored by Invest NI – draws upon the expertise of Jenny Holloway to disseminate ‘best practice’ – ensuring local designers are empowered and provided with essential skills training, knowledge and the tools to develop their businesses effectively and efficiently.

The ten winners will now have an amazing opportunity to benefit from the hands-on experience, technical training and professional mentoring from Fashion Enter London to commercialise their design talents and help make their fashion or textile business a reality.

The ‘best practice’ trip to London also gives the Derry Design Collective an invaluable profile boost by presenting them to an international audience during one of the most important weeks of the fashion calendar.

The ten winners of the ‘Designer Business Start Up’ competition also hail from an area with a world famous fashion and design heritage. Indeed, Derry was built upon the fashion and textile trade – and in its heyday was recognised as the ‘shirt-making capital of the world’.

The introduction of the factory system from the 1850’s led to the city’s expansion and prosperity in the second half of the 19th century – creating a workforce of thousands of local women who were renowned for their skills in sewing, embroidery and needlework.

Importantly, William Tillie introduced a factory system to the city and its first sewing machine in 1856. A year later, along with partner John Henderson, they erected a five-storey building in Derry which at the time was the largest shirt factory of its kind in the world. When it opened its doors for production it was deemed important enough for Karl Marx to reference it in his major work ‘Das Kapital’.

By 1900, shirts were being produced every 2 minutes in the city, and by the outbreak of WWI there were 28 firms employing 18,000 factory hands and using 80,000 outworkers.

Shirt-making reached its peak in the 1920s – with Derry being the principal seat of the industry in the UK and also supplying to Europe and the British colonies.

Almost a century later, the city and its hinterland continues to produce young and emerging talent whose imagination and quality of design is key to a successful future in the global fashion industry.

Whilst the Derry Design Collective may be standing on the proverbial ‘shoulders of giants’ in the fashion and textile trade – they will also be ‘cutting their own cloth’ when they seek to impress at London Fashion Week with some fantastic collections and creations.

The Ten Derry Design Collective designers are…


Andrew is a fashion graduate with a focus on creating beautifully crafted menswear pieces. Specialising in the use of Irish Tweed and Irish Linen he draws upon inspiration from his childhood where growing up near the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland, has influenced his colour palette and textures of the fabric he currently works with.

EMMA KIRWAN – Empire Clothing & Leotards

Emma grew up competing for Ireland on the National Acrobatic Gymnastics squad, and graduated with a degree in Fashion design. She spent five years traveling Canada and Australia, and since returning home, has decided to combine her two passions; gymnastics and fashion. Her Autumn-Winter 2018/19 collection will feature fashionable sportswear with a 90’s streetwear edge, each outfit accompanied with matching leotards and crop tops catering for gymnasts, dancers and performers often overlooked by other sportswear designers.

She will provide a bespoke leotard service, whereby performers and groups can get unique one-off pieces, and will also design and provide club leotards and apparel to meet the needs of specific gymnastics or dance clubs.

ALAN CRESWELL – Alan Creswell Designs

A recent graduate from the Ulster University, Belfast, Alan is an up and coming print designer widely admired for his hand drawn elements and bold use of colour. Animated with birds and eclectic elements, Alan showcases his passion for traditional design with a contemporary twist.

Receiving Industry recognition and several placement offers after showcasing at New Designers in London 2017, Alan is now launching his new range of weird and wonderful designs, mastering a quirky high end look for that customer wanting something unique.

AGNE – Dream, design create.

Agne Nazebetauskaite is a luxury knitwear designer infusing the knitting concepts from the past, present and the future. Agne spent all her childhood watching her grandmother knit, wearing her handmade garments while learning the techniques. Her passion for textiles grew with her desire to connect the memories, and a contemporary vision to transform to luxury knitwear.

The Luxury Kilpos & Poms (Loops and Pompoms) are inspired by the ever-changing moods of people transitioning from one season to another, a collection of capricious chunky hats, scarves and cardigans. It incorporates the trending colours of the season, blush and burgundy, staying loyal to the old-time favourites of antique and mustard yellow. Only natural, quality merino wool is used making this collection.

ORLA PHILLIPS – Orla Phillips Designs

Recent Fashion & textile Graduate Orla Phillips is a luxury knitwear designer. Orla takes Inspiration from the world around her, from industrialized cityscapes to the exotic hidden beauty found within nature. Her designs are characterised by bold silhouettes and rich colours complimented by minimalistic patterns and playful textures, all of which play a significant role in the creation of her work.


Han* is a unisex streetwear brand exploring fun yet minimal design. Launched in September 2017 by Fashion and Textiles graduate, the range consists of embroidered and printed casualwear in the form of t-shirts, sweats, hats. All designs have been developed from original and abstract illustrations. Han* has had success appearing as a Pop-Up on the high street as well as an online shop www.hanclothing.co.uk

NICOLE SCOTT – Aerith & Elora

Nicole Scott is a 26year old resident designer at the FTDC in Shipquay Street. Having graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in Graphic Design in July,  Nicole is now focusing on developing her own children’s lifestyle brand ‘Aerith & Elora’ named after her 2 daughters. Nicole’s debut collection, set to be displayed in February, draws on inspiration from classic children’s fairytales which will appeal to the typical princess loving little girl, while also stirring up a sense of nostalgia for the parents who will purchase them.


EMMA CURTIS – EmMarie by Emma Curtis

Emma is an Irish award-winning fashion and textile designer who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fashion and Textile design with business management. Emma gets all her inspiration through nature and uses luxury fabrics sourced from all around the world, some of which include Italian leather, faux fur and satins.

She showed her first collection – SS17 during London Fashion Week with House of Ikons just 4 months after finishing college. Emma returned again to London in February 2017 with her Autumn Winter 17/18 collection.

Emma is a resident Designer at The Fashion and Textile Design centre in Derry, specialising in bespoke made to measure garments and currently working on her Autumn Winter 18/19 womenswear collection.



Joanne’s new jewellery and accessory range uses the latest in laser technology to create contemporary Celtic designs inspired from the ‘Book of Kells’. Using bright colours and beautiful fabrics, such as leather, silk, linen and felt, she brings these iconic images up to date using the precision of the laser cut and engraving technology, combining mixed materials such as leather, wood and acrylics.

This is an exciting new fashion line for Joanne, who has been perfecting her craft with her laser business Piece Makers for the last 5 years where she primarily uses sustainable wood to celebrate peace and showcase the beauty of Ireland, North and South. She believes now more than ever is a perfect time to celebrate and combine design and technology to making something unique, special, authentic and wearable.


​Edele is a Fashion & Textiles graduate from Ulster University whose main passion lies in textiles and print design. Currently, she is a member of the Fashion and Textile Design Centre in Derry, where she is focusing on applying unique prints to a capsule AW18 collection of day-to-evening ladies wear.

Her design style is a combination of line drawings and monochrome paintings, inspired by the darkness and shadows of Woodland Wonder.  Edele likes to work with hand painted placement designs and repeat patterns to create texture and detail her colour palette reflectin signature style of black and ivory with occasional highlights of colour. Create garments that are both bold illustrations and pattern based.


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