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30 Years of graduate fashion week

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Jun 14, 2021


Image: Graduate Fashion Week

Graduate Fashion Week, a springboard for discovering new talent from the UK’s top design institutions, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Founded in 1991, it was an unknown Christopher Bailey who took home the top accolade in its first year, some thirteen years before being appointed Creative Director of Burberry in 2004. The list of notable graduates is long, from Christopher Raeburn to Holly Fulton, Claire Waight Keller and Emma Hill - the latter having introduced the iconic Alexa and Bayswater bags at the height of Mulberry’s success.

As a charity organisation, GFF unifies both UK and international universities and creates a stronghold for the creative industries to find the best talent each year.

Raeburn, in an interview with Marie Claire in 2014, said of his fashion studies: ‘I’ve always been grateful for the solid foundation and all-round focused education I was able to achieve through my degree and then MA at the Royal College of Art. It was during my BA in Fashion Design that I first started to work on Remade garments which then led onto the business that I’ve been able to grow some 15 years later.’

Over the past 30 years, over 100,000 graduates and undergraduates have been supported and guided by the charity

GFF throughout the decades has remained steadfast in its purpose: dedication to encouraging young people to succeed, helping them find employment and get the best start possible in the fashion industry.

In the UK, GFF remains an unrivalled platform for discovering, nurturing and promoting new talent, bridging the gap between graduation and finding jobs in a notoriously difficult market place. GFF was responsible for launching the careers of some of the most successful designers of our time including the aforementioned Bailey, as well as Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson and Julien MacDonald to name a few.

This year the students have taken to a mostly digital format, with a curation of portfolios of the class of 2021 to found on the GFF website across disciplines ranging from accessory design, art direction, communication and marketing to sustainability and womenswear design. Over 1600 portfolios can viewed in the GFF database.

International acclaim

Every year GFF continues to attract a wide array of industry professionals, press and recruiters from the UK and abroad. Its international members play an integral part in the event, including the renowned International Fashion Catwalk Show. Starting with just four universities 10 years ago, the 2019 edition featured 45 international universities from leading design schools around the world, including The New School Parsons in New York, Donghua University in China, Bunka Fashion College in Japan, Shenkar in Israel, Accademia Costume & Moda in Rome and numerous other international institutes.

Of course the charity’s work doesn’t end with June’s fashion week events. GFF is active all year round, from industry receptions to hosting regional masterclasses, panel talks and webinars, international showcases and running the GFF Mentoring Programme, offering mentorship to select graduates, alongside the bi-annual LFW showcase.

To see the full list of graduate portfolios click here >>

Graduate Fashion Foundation
Graduate Fashion WEek