Looking back at football chanting hooligans after one too many pints of stout, Victoria Sowerby’s graduate collection tells tales of the sports obsessed 90s. The Central Saint Martins graduate took reference from her teenage years, which were spent watching Middlesbrough matches and produced a menswear collection made fom football turf textured fabrics and emblemed scarves. Fascinated by the idea of sportswear as a uniform code, the tomboy created her own football tribe, dressing her models head to toe in footy gear, complete with knee high’s and shin pads. The result is a collision of bobble hats, belly tops and sheer baggy t-shirts.
Last week Sowerby was named one of the winners of the THE FUTURE OF FASHION by WHO'S NEXT Prêt-à-Porter Paris & Arts Thread during an event at The Boundary in Shoreditch. The panel consisted of a series of industry experts including Dazed’s own Writer-at-Large Dean Mayo Davies, who selected Victoria as one of his favourites.
Dazed Digital: Can you tell us about the collection, the inspiration, the materials, the mood etc?
Victoria Sowerby: My graduate collection is an amalgamation of lots of different factors. I wanted to look back to a time in my life before London and Central Saint Matins, and having grown up through the 90's I reckoned it was time to revive the garish sportswear, tie dye and velvet and to pay homage to the navel-grazing crop tops of Trainspotting. I also spent a considerable chunk of my teenage years watching Middlesbrough matches with my aunt and uncle. Although football was a bit of a sore point in my household come Derby days, with a Mackem Dad and a NUFC-supporting Grandad, I chose to back the underdog! I remember the chants of 'There's only one job on Teeside', shouted with surprising good humour for such a pithy social commentary, and I wanted to convey that good ol' North East humour and light-heartedness in my collection. On a more serious note, I was also fascinated by football ‘thug’ culture and the idea of football kits and sportwear brands acting as a kind of uniform to empower and unify gangs of supporters.
DD: Have you been a fan of The Fall for a long time? What do you admire about Mark E Smith?
Victoria Sowerby: I've always been pretty obsessive about music and I remember hearing ‘U.S 80's-90's’ as a teenager and not knowing what the hell I was listening too but instantly loving it. Mark E Smith, love him or hate him, you've got to at least respect his "don't give a fuck” attitude. The last time I saw him play was over Christmas in London and halfway through the set he pulled out a chair and read the paper for a good fifteen minutes whilst the band just played on! I've never come across a band quite like them and I doubt I ever will. It’s like the blessed John Peel said: "The Fall - always different, always the same."
DD: Does your collection relate to your world growing up? Where did you grow up? Can you tell us about your background?
Victoria: I grew up in a small town outside County Durham. I'm a baker’s daughter and worked in the family business until I left for university. I was probably a bit of a tomboy growing up and football was a big part of my life; I remember turning up to freshers week in London and getting odd looks when I ordered a pint of stout! I was always interested in the arts and fashion, not necessarily the fashion industry but individual people’s style and quirks. After spending time in the fashion industry during my placement year, I realised how vital it was to have fun and inject some personality into your work! Fashion can be so serious and I wanted to enjoy my final year by creating something light-hearted and fresh.
DD: What are your favourite football moments from pop culture?
Victoria Sowerby: I have to say Mark E Smith mumbling his way through the football results on Final Score has to be a highlight; given the guy isn't a stranger to the odd tipple he must have been pretty battered to start making up teams. (“Southampton Town”?!). I’d intended to use 'Theme from Sparta FC' for my show music but then opted for the beer guzzlers’ favourite Fat Les with 'Vindaloo', as it seemed to be more of a crowd-pleaser! Would have loved to get Paul Gascoigne as a model but he might have been a bit unpredictable…
DD: What inspired you to enter THE FUTURE OF FASHION by WHO'S NEXT Prêt-à-Porter Paris & Arts Thread?
Victoria Sowerby: I think Arts thread is a fantastic platform for new graduates and the THE FUTURE OF FASHION by WHO'S NEXT Prêt-à-Porter Paris & Arts Thread competition is an amazing opportunity to present my work and make a few contacts. After graduation I did feel a little overwhelmed, I was unprepared for the lack of creative jobs, and it's also really hard financially to start out in the fashion industry as you're expected to intern for free whilst trying to afford rent in the city. Being selected for this competition is definitely a confidence boost, especially since the judges are such prolific names in the industry!
DD: What are your hopes for the future? Tell us something we wouldn't expect of you . . .?
Victoria Sowerby: Given that I thought I'd graduate and begin working in the fashion industry, I've already gone down a rather unexpected route! I've moved back up to the North and I'm currently back working in the bakery selling pasties to the North East masses. I’ve also just appeared on the BBC gameshow Pointless; unfortunately I didn't win, I lost out on a football question. Oh, the irony!
Obviously I do hope to get a design job eventually, though sadly there’s very little in the way of creative jobs going in the North East. London is my second home and a brilliant creative hub, it's just a pretty tough place to be an intern! Ideally I'd love a job somewhere printy and fun, Agi and Sam's menswear is really cool and also Christopher Shannon! There are definitely some great new designers surfacing in London! And if the fashion thing doesn’t work out I could always become a professional gameshow contestant!
Winner from the night were:
Victoria Sowerby – Central Saint Martins UAL – UK
- Tarek Ben Amor – ESAD Reims – France
- Laura Juslin – Aalto University – Finland
- Pavla Aleksic – University of Zagreb – Croatia
- Caterina Belluardo – Royal College of Art – UK
- Katja Sobol – Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design – Netherlands
- Asta Grigaityte – Vilnius Academy of Arts – Lithuania
- Alexandra Sims – Whitehouse Institute of Design – Australia
- Lucy Downes – Arts University Bournemouth – UK
- Madeline Fruen – Pratt Institute – US
The 10 winners will be presented at WHO'S NEXT Prêt-à-Porter Paris from 6th- 9th July 2013 in Paris Porte de Versailles
More info HERE