In an isolated world, collaboration becomes stifled – its input strained by a lack of face-to-face liaison, from skill-sharing to critiquing work. In arts industries, teamwork often acts as the beating heart to creativity, and students are its lifeblood for the future. To harness the tenacity of final year students this summer, the UAL Graduate Showcase has launched to incubate talent from its six colleges and share student work across the virtual landscape. Work that has been crafted from the confines of lockdown, transforming adversity into genius.

Alongside creations from a roster of courses, the website will host around 50 live events that amalgamate fashion workshops, performances and industry speeches. The UAL Graduate Showcase captures versatility in a generation that leave education physically alone but celebrate it, digitally, as one. We spoke to LCF design students as they face graduation, on the importance of global interconnectivity, homespun fashion tech and greeting the industry from behind a screen.


Hannah Cooper, BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear



Photos courtesy of Hannah Cooper

With your designs being inherently related to nature, how has the digital shift altered your working habits and thought processes? 

I integrated digital tools into my work predominantly, working towards my final hand-in to create a personal symbiosis of craft and technology. In this digital age, our physical body still remains on this planet – we need nature to connect with ourselves, but my future vision is that the customer can create a personalized digital avatar, then enter a digital showroom to try on garments and assemble looks. With the help of body scanning technology, couture pieces can be made-to-measure without the need for attending physical fittings.


You have been unable to attend classes and collaborate as normal. How does it feel to be graduating in isolation? 

At first, very overwhelming. We had to adjust to the situation, accept it as the new reality, change our project outcomes and try to stay self-disciplined and optimistic. What helped my friends and I were daily video meetings to stay in touch, preserve a sense of community and motivate each other. In a way this process was a collaboration and it worked extremely well.


Fashion has developed a greater need for online connection and peer-working. How do you think virtual showcases will shape the industry going forward?

Technology holds much more potential that has not yet been fully utilised, I think. One also loses the tactile element of physical garments. This is why I added a ‘DIY DYE PACK’ to my collection. It is the physical counter-balance to my digital presentation and retail experience. Fashion will become less prestigious and more accessible to everyone, designers will be working outside of the fashion calendar. This is great, but we must not forget the craft-driven side of garment making and dreaming. I believe that the current pandemic is an accelerator in sustainable thinking and we need to use it.


Alice Khor, BA Fashion Design and Development



Photos courtesy of Alice Khor

Malaysian culture is central to your project, that has been produced in a time when travelling is difficult. Why is it important to promote interconnectivity – sharing traditions and telling global stories, through fashion design?

Harmonious connections can be built between different cultures when they have a good understanding of each other. Therefore, it is important for us to raise awareness and showcase our traditions to enrich others. Although I had to rethink my work, I ended up really delighted with my outcome even though it was far from what I expected. I learned to look at change as an opportunity to improve. This caused my concept of reinterpretation and fusion of the old with the new to be more appealing and accepted.


The ‘ASLI’ designs have been curated into UAL’s virtual fashion collections. Why are online communities like this beneficial to creatives?

As a young graduating designer just starting to build an online presence, I found it tough to reach the right audience. Being part of the UAL ‘School of Design & Technology: DIRECTION’ collection endorses my skills as a designer and puts me on the map. This has helped and will continue to help me gain attention from the industry as well as people who are interested in what I have to offer. 


What challenges did you face in digitising your work?  

In order to create final images for the showcase, I had to take the reins on photographing, modelling, and video recording my final toiles creatively within the limitations of my accommodation. Though I have been inexperienced in all those areas, the stay-at-home period allowed me to develop many important new skills in a short amount of time. As the essence of my designs is in their intricacy, the challenge was to ensure that the details are emphasised and not lost when digitising. 


Matt Archer, BA Fashion Design Technology: Menswear




Your ideas come across as dystopian or reflective of the world’s barren state right now.  Why do you utilise design technology to create this deterioration?

I explored deterioration by experimenting a lot, by manipulating fabric scraps, getting offcuts of leathers and shearling and re-piecing them back together in alternative ways and building up texture. I was really just trying to destroy things, dye things, build up my own textiles using wool and stitch, then relating it to garments on the body. I liked the idea of sections with a smooth surface contrasted with a heavily textured one.


Collaboration is a key driver in menswear brands today, and the fashion industry at large. How sustainable is remote working beyond the pandemic?

I hugely missed the atmosphere and energy when suddenly being isolated. Working remotely and collaborating is possible, but maybe less enjoyable as touching materials and interacting in the real world is very valuable.


Surplus material is a focal point in the graduate collection. How has sourcing materials and garment construction differed under virtual learning?

I had sourced my materials before so this wasn't a problem, it was not having access to the specialist machines I had used to create many samples that was the blow. But by utilising the samples I had, and by working online, I was able to construct the garments that required special machinery digitally in 3D. I found inspiration by working digitally and trying out new software like CLO3D to pattern cut and fully visualise what I had originally intended. The project was already well underway so it was all about bringing it together under the new circumstances, thinking outside of the box.


Vera I-Jing Lee, BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear 



Photos courtesy of Vera I.J. Lee


Since you find beauty in architecture, how has being isolated indoors impacted your work?

It looks different to how I had planned, but in a better way. Some things I compromised, and that’s how the digital version of my collection developed – I had a lot of fun producing it. It aligns with my imagination as I wanted to transfer some humour across. If I were to produce a physical collection, it would be more complicated to put on a market fashion show in Taiwan.

But the downside would be the lack of a high-end finish, garment wise. Due to the lockdown, I didn't have a lot of fabric. I love design, I love textures. The feel of fabric is like a bridge between your imagination and reality. If anything, I was inspired during the lockdown, I always like to work more positively. It's my philosophy of sorting out problems. 


Why do multi-disciplinary showcases benefit you leaving university amid a pandemic?

With the Showcase it’s far easier to collaborate because the school is trying to involve everybody. Since the lockdown, all of us students just feel so united as we try to help each other. We are genuinely happy if somebody has gotten exposure for their work, rather than feeling competitive. I think staying apart brought people closer and we appreciate each other more. It also means you can approach wider avenues; more people will see your work. People from all over the world and different industries too.


Where do you see the future of digital technology in fashion heading?

The future will have two outcomes, significantly, people will start to appreciate handmade craftsmanship again. Due to fast fashion or other reasons, people are spending less money on clothes. Now that people are making masks themselves, they’re starting to experience the similar situation that designers find themselves in. It will inspire more connection between product and consumer. Yet I think the other side will completely go digital. We'll probably buy clothes for fictional characters or see interest in virtual advertising, or more showcases. 

We invite you to celebrate the work and creativity of these exceptional students by joining The London College of Fashion Graduate Showcase here.