YKK Stands With Graduates and Shares Alumni Experiences

Photo Credit: Graduate Fashion Foundation

We have been a dedicated supporter of emerging design talent, not only through our workshops for students and exhibition displays at our London Showroom but historically with the 10 year partnership with the ITS Platform in Italy, and in recent years as a sponsor and partner of Graduate Fashion Week. While the 2020 event was not going ahead as usual due to coronavirus, we continued our support of the GFW Foundation and sponsorship of the YKK Accessories Award, looking for design talent who can offer a modern directional approach to the accessories arena, whether that is with millinery, shoes, bags, belts or jewellery.

The talent for the 2020 Accessories Award was strong, following 27 entries from 14 universities from creative courses, ten finalists were shortlisted from their digital portfolios: Anna Melegh from the University of Northampton; Brandon Haley from De Montfort University; Eleanor Jones from Manchester Metropolitan University; Ella Hall from the University of Brighton; Ella MacFarlaine and Rosie Wells from Nottingham Trent University; Ffion McCormick-Edwards from Arts University Bournemouth; Lucy Saunders from Kingston University London; Madeline McKenna from Coventry University; and Chloe Fairweather from Northumbria University, who have designed an array of accessories including bags, footwear, and modular headphones, and even a life jacket backpack.

Highlights include Brandon Haley’s sneaker inspired by the Kimono featuring a new way of constructing footwear with eight panels of leather that interlock and fold within each other, while Ella Hall adapted a large fold-out angling tackle-bag into a luxury menswear piece featuring interchangeable and modular features created by a number of chunky bespoke YKK zips, and Ffion McCormick-Edwards used her love of waterskiing on the lakes of Wales to design a life jacket in a backpack utilising the surplus fabric.

Other designs in the shortlist focused on sculpted underarm bags, boots that could give a home for insects, modular headphones created from automotive production waste, bags inspired from gun and knife holsters, accessories designed from old sails, and bags inspired by the concept of invisibility using sustainable methods and materials.

Photo Credit: Ella Hall

GFW Foundation names YKK Accessories Award 2020 winner

Since the lockdown restrictions have eased off the judging was able to go ahead face-to-face and socially distanced for some, via video calls for those that needed to shield or could not attend in person. The judges Kei Kagami, Benjamin John Hall and Katie Doherty finalised the shortlisted students down to the top 3, and at a socially-distanced ceremony, GFW Foundation named YKK Accessories Award winner as Ella Hall from the University of Brighton.

Commenting on her win, Hall said: “Winning the YKK Accessories Award means an incredible amount to me. Like many other fashion students this year I sat in my bedroom day and night putting my pieces together, sleeping (somewhat) and sewing, all in the same room. With all the uncertainty of the situation, I honestly wasn’t sure what the outcome.

“Never did I expect to be nominated for an award, let alone win it. Despite the difficulties, I’m so grateful to where it led me, and I just really want to thank my family for supporting in every way they could, my brother for his obsession with carp fishing, without it my collection wouldn’t have been what it was and of course, my tutors at The University of Brighton, for always guiding me to the best outcome, and supporting us however they could through digital means.”

Stefania Liberti, YKK London Showroom Manager, added: “We are very proud to sponsor GFW for the 4th year in a row. This year will be very challenging for all fashion students and graduates as it is also for business. We stay positive and want the students to know that we are here for you, during the good times as well as the difficult.

“We are pleased to be able to continue to offer our support this year, be it face-to-face or digitally, and we look forward to continuing our support in the future.”

Being named the winner of YKK’s Accessories Award has helped kick start the career of a number of graduates. Last year’s winner Dimitri Gabellier from De Montfort University, impressed with his innovative sport shoe designs and is currently working as a junior footwear designer for Givenchy in Paris, while Essi Peuhkuri, a BA Fashion Accessory Design graduate from Nottingham Trent University, who took the home the accolade in 2018 for her hybrid collection which combined elements from clothing and accessories into modern, luxury wearables handcrafted from leather has been accepted on to Fashion Crossover London’s ‘Graduate Talent Programme’ featuring her sustainable fashion products created during her MA in Disruptive Design.

Commenting on what he gained from being part of Graduate Fashion Week, Dimitri Gabellier said: “Being at university doing my projects I only had feedback from a closed circle of teachers and fellow classmates, showcasing at GFW was a great opportunity to meet and discuss with public and industry.

“It was really beneficial to get a range of opinions and views on my work as well as connect with students from other universities and backgrounds. GFW’s connections to brands and groups such as LVMH opened opportunities for students such as me to speak with recruiters and industry experts, which led me to a job opportunity at Givenchy in Paris.”

With regards his Graduate Fashion Week win, Dimitri added: “The YKK Award was a special award for me because it was judged by a panel I could identify myself with and led to a great friendship with Kei Kagami who I’ve always respected and admired as a person and as a designer.”

2020 has been a difficult year for fashion graduates, and while YKK wasn’t able to meet with students during Graduate Fashion Week, offering advice on its zips and fasteners, it is looking forward to celebrating the very best in emerging accessories talent with the GFW Foundation Awards. The winner of the YKK Accessories Award was announced it September and receive a financial prize.

Liberti, added: “In the face of uncertainty or adversity, young designers are often able to use great creativity to build new and exciting innovations; this is a positive thing that we can be excited and optimistic about and look forward to the creative potential of the future ahead.”