TikTok is collaborating with the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF) to support emerging talent in the industry, via a bespoke residency for final year students who are eager to begin their fashion careers.
Students from GFF member universities are being mentored by TikTok creators and leading designers, as they spend a week learning about design for manufacturing, grading, production lines and much more.
By the end of the residency, each emerging designer will have produced four garments of their chosen winning design which will be produced for TikTok to gift to their Creator and VIP community.
Fashion designer Henry Holland decided to get involved to help young designers learn the skills needed to create a business, and said the challenge offers “a really useful set of tools that so many students often are lacking”.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the fashion industry hard, and according to Holland has “caused us all to question the way we work, the way we shop, the way we consume and how often we do that.”
GFF Awards finalist Bel Nicholson said: “I’ve been trying to apply for jobs, and there’s not a lot going on out there, so I’m hoping when the situation does clear up a bit more, it’ll bounce back a bit. But at the moment I’m looking into freelance print – that’s what I want to do. Print is my life!”
In compliance with social distancing measures, students on the residency completed their final collections from home, which brought it’s own challenges due to a lack of studio space – although the opportunity to work with TikTok was well worth it.
Ms Nicholson said: “TikTok is so big and eccentric. The fact you can put a fashion name to it is really great.
“I wanted to express how I view TikTok – it’s a place to fit in. In my home town people look at me with my purple hair and crazy colours and they’re like ‘where do you come from’ and then when I go on TikTok, everyone’s got crazy hair and crazy colours. I’m like – this is where I belong.”
Likewise, student Melody Ramsey, who designed a tailored poncho as her final piece and previously interned at Ralph Lauren in New York, describes how the video-sharing app “has brought a lot of joy for me and my friends when it’s been a difficult time”.
Student Beth added: “TikTok is all about fun and dance, and it reminded me of rave culture. So I chose a psychedelic print inspired from Acid House which I felt really conveyed what TikTok was all about.
TikTok’s Cassandra Russell, who works in brand partnerships, was “blown away” by the execution of the designs, and told the students they should be proud of themselves.
She added: “We’re sending these out to a combination of influencers and our most VIP clients, so it’ll be the head of marketing for Burberry getting one of these items, and lots of other fashion houses as well.”
For Holland, the rise of social media had fundamentally altered the fashion industry, by changing consumer behaviour, how people interact with clothes and offering seemingly instant access.
“Social media has become a way for individuals to create brands of their personalities, and of who they are – it’s really taught people a lot about the process,” he says.
In reference to the new entrants on the TikTok residency, the fashion designer stressed the importance of passion, and always having a point of view.
He said: “Find out it is what you want to say, and then figure out how you’re going to say it.
“There are so many brands, there’s so much noise out there – you have to find a way to cut through that, and do it in a way that feels true to you.
“Clothing has the ability to tell stories – we’re able to communicate to people without even speaking to them, about who we are and what we’re about.
“I think that’s the power of fashion.”