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Graduate Fashion Foundation Celebrates Graduate Talent at the Houses of Parliament


The 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 on the 14th November.

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.


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.

Jeff Banks


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.


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.

Martyn Roberts

Martyn Roberts, Creative and Managing Director of Graduate Fashion Week said: “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.”


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.


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.

A selection of Winning 2017 Graduates

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.


Mark Newton Jones, Chairman and Mothercare CEO said:

“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.”


Guests also had the pleasure of hearing from the Chairman of UKFT, Nigel Lugg:


“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.”


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.


Oliver Spencer, Founder and Creative Director, Oliver Spencer commented:

“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!”


Graduate Fashion Week is the world’s largest event for BA Fashion talent and will be taking place on the 3rd – 6th June 2018 at The Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, London.


Images by Nicholas Kristiansen


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