THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

03 February 2018

Fashion Design Competition Winner Announced

The British Library has recently run a fashion design competition using our digital collections to inspire a new generation of fashion designers. In partnership with the British Fashion Council and fashion house Teatum Jones, students from universities across the UK were invited to create a fashion portfolio which tells an inspirational story inspired by the British Library’s Flickr Collection.

The Flickr Commons Collection contains over 1 million images ‘snipped’ from around 65,000 digitised books largely from the 19th Century. This collection is ideal for creative researchers and has already inspired artists and designers.

Fashion competition 1

This competition challenged students’ creativity and story-telling through design and research skills. Working to a brief set by the Library and Teatum Jones, students were given free rein to find inspiration from across the Library’s collections, ranging from South American costumes to aviation.

To open the competition and welcome to students to the Library we held a Fashion Research Masterclass as part of our postgraduate open day programme in October 2017. The day featured talks from experts across the Library and an inspirational Show and Tell focusing on variety of collections that could inspire fashion research and design.

Fashion competition 2

The competition judging took place in January 2018, with 8 finalists from across the UK presenting their portfolios to a panel of specialists from the fashion sector including Paul Baptiste (Accessories Buying Manager, Fenwick), Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones (Creative Directors, Teatum Jones), Judith Rosser-Davies (British Fashion Council) and Mahendra Mahey (British Library Labs). Unfortunately we could only have one winner and we are delighted to announce Alanna Hilton from Edinburgh College of Art as our winner.

Alanna’s collection ‘Unlabelled’ has designs “that reject labelling [and] where consumers of all ages, sizes, ethnicities and genders can find beautiful clothes”. For winning the competition, Alanna received a financial prize from the British Fashion Council and membership of the British Library membership scheme. All of the submissions were incredibly strong, and we were very pleased to see the students all taking such different design routes, inspired by our collections.

The Library will continue to explore how we facilitate creative research process, as well as link it to business support provided by our Business and IP Centre. Our work with the fashion students highlighted the real variety in the ways researchers access our collections, find inspiration and use the library.

We are continuing to work with the British Fashion Council, exploring how to better reach this part of the research community and we will have an update from our winning designer later in the year. The project is also grateful to Innovate UK for their support.

This post is by Edmund Connolly from the British Library's Higher Education & Cultural Engagement department, he is on twitter as @Ed_Connolly.