Class Of 2020: Elise Keeling

Name: Elise Keeling

Age: 24

University: UCA Rochester

Course: BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Print

Describe your design aesthetic in 3 words?  Bold prints, Colourful, Fun

What message or story do your designs portray?

My initial idea stemmed from my experiences at music festivals for the ‘Pretty – Ugly Festival’ collection. It is a contrast between the beauty of a festival and the chaos it leaves behind. I wanted to create a body of work that shows the beauty of a festival: the getting ready, the make-up, the glittered outfits, music, joyfulness, fun, but also that grungy chaos side that occurs slowly where everything left behind is a mess. Rubbish is left, sleeping bags have been dragged through the mud and tents are sprawled across the fields deserted with rubbish and dirty laundry. Also, the mess of lack of sleep, no washing, alcohol and drugs and loud music can do to change someone’s appearance. 

My primary focus was the personal transformation: from beauty to chaos and mess; the secondary was about the ecological sustainability awareness of the world. The metaphor of physically wrapping ourselves up in rubbish at the festival and theworld being bound up and choked by waste. My concept addresses sustainability and ethical practice through encouraging young people to be more sustainably aware of their detritus, littering the once beautiful landscape. I get you to think about how humans transform what is beautiful and orderly into something which is ugly and chaotic.

My message is to protect the beauty of nature andthe natural world and to create a constant discourse around the need for sustainability both in fashion – and in society. We need to recognize the need for change whenit comes to handling festival waste, and come up with more solutions to suggest how to combat against it. This collection is very fashion forward, a beautiful high fashion statement, created using recycled sleeping bags and other sustainable materials that have been taken apart and reconstructed backtogether, the sustainability also comes through in my prints showing the trashand waste that has been left behind. 

What is one career aspiration that you’d most like to achieve?

I would like to achieve a successful brand, that stems from this collection, for ages 16 – 24, for young women who want to dress bright and colourful, who want to create an energetic and positive impact, by wearing printed clothing that has a message.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the fashion industry today?

I think the biggest issue facing the fashion industry today is that retailers must provide fashion that is affordable to all income brackets while respecting their societal responsibilities for sustainable production. 

How do you think the pandemic is going to change the way we consume fashion?

I feel the pandemic will change the way we consume fashion because I feel we will think more about the price and the cost. We may even start to reuse the fashion we already have. I think people will buy less and take care of what fashion they already have. I feel more people are shopping on second-hand clothing sites and shops, and this may develop further after the pandemic. 

How is your concept design going to translate to something people can wear in everyday life?

The brand creates killer looks that takes the festival message to another level. EGK Textiles aims to create confidence in women, while expanding on the message from ‘Pretty – Ugly Festival’ collection, translating my bold colourful printsand using them to create young everyday fashion that young women can express themselves with. 

What has been your biggest inspiration to create fashion? 

I think my biggest inspiration has been the previous graduates that have graduated before me. Watching them achieve their own brands and watching them show their work at Graduate Fashion Week, always inspired me to do the same.  

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? 

I see myself with a successful creative brand, creating different statement collections that hopefully appear on catwalks and in magazines, while creating commercial fashion that young women want to wear, with my printed fashion brightening up the fashion industry.

Words: Sophie Roberts