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We caught up with Lucy to find out more about the design process behind her MTV range, what the brand means to her – and the other licences she’d love to design for.
Last month saw fashion design graduate Lucy Saunders named the winner of the Music Meets Fashion competition.
The competition – launched by MTV, the British Fashion Council, River Island and Iceberg – was a global search for the world’s next top fashion designer. As the winner, Lucy got to work with the team at River Island to translate her runway collection into a range that’s available to buy from the retailer now.
We caught up with Lucy to find out more about the design process behind her MTV range, what the brand means to her and what other licences she’d love to have the chance to design for.
Hi Lucy! Congrats again on winning the Music Meets Fashion competition. We’ll dive into that in a moment, but to kick us off… Last year you graduated from a Fashion Design degree – did you get to work with brands much while on the course?
Yes, I went at Kingston University and the course is set up to work with the industry. Once you get to second year, every project you do is a live project with a brand. So I had the opportunity to enter a competition with Old Navy – I actually won that and got to work with them in San Francisco for three months.
Amazing, how was that?
That was really cool. I got to work with the visual and styling team and the design team and got to learn how a company like that works. We also did a live project with Tommy Hilfiger and I won that competition too, so I got to intern with their Runway collection team in Amsterdam.
“I had to look at what MTV means and echo those qualities – so I wanted the range to be sustainable, adaptable and gender-neutral, especially when you consider what’s happening with London Fashion Week at the moment as they’re merging men’s and womenswear together.”
So the way that Kingston is set up is that the projects you do are set up to try and give you real-world experience and get you where you need to be. By the time you graduate, you’ve learnt so much about how the industry works.
It sounds like the way to go; I’m always pleased to hear of design courses prioritising industry collaboration. And so this is where you heard of the Music Meets Fashion initiative?
Yes, when I came back to Kingston to finish my third year, this project was handed to us. MTV is obviously an incredible platform that celebrates music and people coming together – and I’ve grown up with it. At the time, I was doing my final collection but it was actually relevant to the MTV brief. It was exciting, it was adaptable and so I took that and entered the competition.
It was a bit delayed because of Covid, so I graduated and then I heard back that I’d been selected as one of the finalists. So I spent my summer making three catwalk designs, which were then showcased at London Fashion Week in September. So that was in collaboration with MTV, Iceberg and the British Fashion Council, creating a more luxury runway collection.
The runway collection looked fantastic; talk us through what you created.
I wanted to bring a bit of me into the project, and my final collection was based on using sustainable fabrics. My parents sail, so I used some old sails that were donated to me because I didn’t want to spend lots of money buying new fabrics. I created all the catwalk pieces from the sails. It had eyelet details, zigzag stitching and lots of wear and tear – and when you move, these sails are so loud! It really suited MTV because it was bold, it was vibrant, and it was exciting. I showcased it at London Fashion Week and ended up winning the competition and designing a commercial range for River Island.
I had to look at what MTV means and echo those qualities – so I wanted the range to be sustainable, adaptable and gender-neutral, especially when you consider what’s happening with London Fashion Week at the moment as they’re merging men’s and womenswear together. So I wanted to create a collection for River Island that celebrated people coming together.
So you won the Old Navy brief, you won the Tommy Hilfiger brief, you won this brief… I bet your friends on the course just stopped entering these after a while didn’t they?!
Ha! I just got lucky with the things that I did! I worked very hard as well, don’t get me wrong, but there were loads of great opportunities on the course for everyone!
It’s amazing so well done again! Now, let’s dive into your River Island collection. I’d imagine MTV means different things to different people depending on when you grew up with it, so what does MTV mean to you? And what elements of the brand did you want to showcase in the collection?
MTV has changed from generation to generation, but for me, it’s a platform that celebrates people’s differences. It also champions the idea of being true to yourself. So when I started the competition, I didn’t just want to create a collection for MTV, I wanted to create a collection for me, that would also resonate with MTV.
When I started, I looked at the qualities that were important to me – being sustainable, being adaptable – and then taking inspiration from the qualities that MTV has. I also wanted to retain the fun element to it. As you can imagine, fashion can be very serious and intense, so I wanted to create collection that’s fun, exciting and one that people would feel good wearing.
It must be nice to see that your final collection that’s being sold with River Island still retains some of original touches from your sails-inspired runway range.
Yes! When you design a runway collection, you can go a bit crazy with it and design some quirky pieces, but because of that, it also meant that I had everything in place to make a commercial collection.
I based the hoodie around the idea of having a 360 view of branding. Every time you look at the hoodie, you’ll see a zip in a different colour, or an eyelet or the blue hood at the back. There’s always something new to discover.
Brill! Looking at fashion generally, are you seeing licensing providing more creative opportunities for designers?
Absolutely. Fashion is becoming more exciting and with Covid, people are looking at new ways to make things exciting. I’m currently working at Fila across lots of brands, and I know the business is reaching out to other companies to see what new collaborations we could do. It is an exciting time for fashion; people are interested in lots of different things and companies are looking at how best to bring that life. Look at recent fashion collaborations with brands like LEGO or tech brands!
Now you’re working at Fila, has your design process changed at all from how you would tackle briefs at uni?
Kingston taught me that designing for a brand is all about embracing the brand DNA and what sort of customer it’s targeting, as well as looking at what’s going on in the wider fashion world. It was also very good at teaching you how to be creative and develop ideas forward.
“I based the hoodie around the idea of having a 360 view of branding. Every time you look at the hoodie, you’ll see a zip in a different colour, or an eyelet or the blue hood at the back.”
I’ve carried all that with me now. I’ve learnt a lot here already and I’m designing collections myself which is great. My team is really nice and I’m learning so much from them. Because we’re working across lots of different brands, you’re never settled – but in a good way! It’s really exciting.
Amazing. You mentioned there that Kingston helped to teach you how to be creative. How do you fuel your creativity?
I just do a lot of my own projects. I’m working on lots of brands at the moment at Fila, but I still try and work on my own projects. And going out helps, when we can! I spoke to someone the other day who has worked in this industry for a long time, and she said: “Stick to doing what you love doing, and don’t lose yourself once you join a company.” So I think doing your own projects can help designers remain true to themselves.
Before I let you go, is there a brand out there that you’d love to develop a fashion line for?
PlayStation! I’d love to tap into that because it’s so huge at the moment, with everyone playing videogames in lockdown. I saw they created some PlayStation Tube signs to celebrate the launch of the PS5 – my sister works for the media agency that was involved in that and I thought that was really creative. That would be an exciting brand to tap into!
Great stuff, and who knows, the licensing person at Fila may be reading and they can have a word with Sony – or give your sister a nudge! Anyway, thanks for taking time out for this Lucy and a huge congrats again on the MTV collection.
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