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JCA Class of 2022: MA Graduate - Annabelle Barton

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Business |Interview

Image: Annabelle Barton, Size-A/JCA

Last month, the first graduates of Jimmy Choo’s JCA | London Fashion Academy’s MA Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation course showcased their collections on the catwalk. Birmingham-born designer Annabelle Barton used the show to debut her “anti-fit” fashion label for petite women called Size-A.

As a petite woman herself, Barton has always struggled with buying clothes and often had to adjust ready-to-wear pieces to fit. This inspired Size-A, a label inspired by luxury, adjustability and creativity, to offer pieces that bridge the gap between altering clothes to fit as desired and finding clothes off the rail to fit a petite body instantly. This is achieved with cleverly designed adjustable waistlines and hemlines, which can be loosened or tightened.

Image: Annabelle Barton, Size-A/JCA

The debut seven-piece ‘Little Do They Know’ collection celebrates Barton’s Irish heritage combined with the 90s nostalgia of the post-pandemic era and features symbols including the Claddagh ring, the Dara knot, and the St Christopher pendant.

Emerging designer to watch: Annabelle Barton, Size-A

Barton is one of four students on JCA’s one-year MA Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation course that focuses on enterprise creation. Students on the course establish themselves as freelancers or micro-SMEs and are encouraged to develop a commercial enterprise from the outset. The school offers practice-based education in which students are professionally ‘incubated’ as aspiring designer-entrepreneurs to develop their crafts in professional studios.

Image: Annabelle Barton, Size-A/JCA

Following her showcase, FashionUnited caught up with Barton over e-mail to find out what inspired her to launch a petite fashion label, why she decided to continue her studies at JCA, and her advice for aspiring fashion designers.

Why did you want to launch a label for petite women?

As a petite woman myself, I have always struggled to purchase clothing, especially trousers, without having to shorten them. After a significant amount of research, I realised nowhere was doing luxury petite clothing designed for Gen-Z and this sparked my desire to create one, to fill the void in the industry.

Image: Annabelle Barton, Size-A/JCA

What inspired your graduate collection?

My graduate collection is inspired by my Irish heritage in combination with my own personal style and love for the nineties 'anti-fit' silhouettes. Each of the seven looks has a symbol of inspiration which was then adapted using embroidery, print and creative pattern-cutting methods.

What challenges did you face ensuring that each garment was suited to a petite woman?

I tried not to limit the designs. I know that petite women each have different leg and torso lengths and sizes, therefore I creatively worked around the limitations, adding adjustable waistlines and hemlines that allowed each of the sets to be worn how the wearer desires rather than aiming for a perfect fit. These design challenges eventually made the garments cohesive as a collection.

Image: Annabelle Barton, Size-A/JCA

Why did you choose the programme at JCA?

I chose the programme at JCA as it offered a tailored approach to our learning. Having come from a make-up and hair background and having never touched a sewing machine before, JCA offered one-to-one practical learning as well as building our knowledge in starting and running a fashion business.

What impact would you like to have on the fashion industry?

I would like to spark a conversation about luxury petite fashion and how it has been neglected within the industry so far. I would like to integrate it into luxury retail by continuing with my Size-A brand.

What advice would you give aspiring fashion designers?

I would advise aspiring fashion designers to find their niche and explore what makes themselves and their designs different and continually develop that concept into a physical product. I believe this is what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Image: Annabelle Barton, Size-A/JCA
Annabelle Barton
Emerging Designer
JCA | London Fashion Academy Jimmy Choo