GFW 2015: Kayleigh Walmsley, University of East London

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
INTERVIEW The third in my series of profiles from the very best in graduate fashion is University of East London menswear designer, Kayleigh Walmsley who was part of the 25 strong Gala showcase during the recent Graduate Fashion Week.

Her streetwear collection made a statement on the Truman Brewery catwalk combining fashion and politics, drawing inspiration from her Liverpool roots and the importance of football in the city, with sequin tracksuits and latex football shirts.

After her graduate fashion week show, FashionUnited spoke to the menswear designer about the inspiration behind her bold collection, labels she admires, and her plans for the future.

Tell us about your graduating collection – what was the inspiration behind it?

The inspiration behind my collection was a combination of gender expression and hooliganism, the gender expression was an interest of mine and the hooliganism was something that was personal to me. My aim was to focus on feminine fabrication, so this could coincide with the form of gender expression through menswear it was to initiate a form of dress and how we express ourselves through being a part of a tribe or group for instance a hooligan or gang. As well as gender expression, how we express our gender through being the opposite sex, and live in a society that deems dresses appropriate for woman, but not for men.

The hooligan side was something that took over through my collection, being from Liverpool I combined fashion and politics, drawing inspiration from the Hillsborough disaster from the 80’s. This was something that was a part of my life growing up as my dad was involved in the disaster and was and still is a big Liverpool fan, so I wanted to introduce this through my collection and research to build a scouser proud collection that had use of depth mixed in with football derived streetwear to denigrate what happened and in particular the Sun newspaper’s controversial coverage of the disaster.

What are the signature piece/pieces?

The printed sequin tracksuits and latex football shirts and coat.

Did you have a specific audience in mind when designing your final collection? Who is your target customer?

When I think about the guy wearing my clothes I feel, he is someone who is fun, outgoing and care free, very flamboyant and not scared to express himself in how he dresses. Middle-aged professional who likes to stand out from his mates of course in a signature sequin tracksuit and most defiantly confident.

As well as university, have you completed any work experience?

As well as studying at the University of East London I’ve also undertaken work experience for design houses including as PPQ, Christopher Kane and Redeem.

What do you plan to do now that you've graduated? What are your plans for your career in the future?

Take a long holiday! Work for a well established design label.

Where do you hope to see yourself/your label in five years time?

Always had an interest in taking a Masters Degree, but other than that having a successful career, working for a well established label, doing what I love most.

What was your Graduate Fashion Week experience like?

Amazing all the tears tantrums and stress was defiantly worth it. I got selected for the gala show which was amazing being apart of the best 25 designers from 1000 was a surreal experience, I was overwhelmed by the whole experience, and the feed back I received was great.

What designers/labels do you most admire? Who would you love to work or collaborate with?

Most admired designers for me would be Martine Rose I feel I relate to her as a designer being drawn to both strange and beautiful when the two collide it’s a combination between feminity in a masculine aesthetic. For menswear that what I’m most intrigued by, she would be someone I’d love to collaborate with and of course Christopher Shannon with him being a fellow scouser!

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?

Work hard and go with your instincts!

Images: Kayleigh Walmsley

Related News