Euro 2016 might have just ended, but the next fashion designer in our Graduate to Watch series, James Geraghty was inspired by football supporters’ devotion to their teams with his statement football-themed collection.
Centring around the theme of obsession, Geraghty’s striking menswear collection was a highlight during Graduate Fashion Week, and FashionUnited caught up with him to discuss how he reworked classic men’s tailoring into his designs, why interning is so important, as well as his advice for studying in fashion.Why did you want to be a fashion designer?
“I always knew I was more creative than academic, I started off studying graphics at school and college but I wasn't too good at it. I gave textiles a shot because I could sew and have been doing so since I was about 7 and ended up loving it. After that, I went onto to doing an art foundation which made me realise even more that it was indeed fashion that I really wanted to pursue.”
“My graduate collection was inspired by an interest in branding. The relationship between football fans and their team was a perfect way to illustrate how branding can shape someone's life completely. It focuses on the positive side of football rather than hooliganism - appreciating passion and celebrating branding, something which is often put in a bad light.
“Mainly, I really wanted the whole collection to feel lighthearted in nature, a bit like how Moschino are doing things now. Fashion is too 'serious' sometimes.”What fabrics/techniques did you use?
“All of the fabrics used were classic men's tailoring fabrics, lots of Italian wools, suitings, and classic English shirting. Pretty much all of my fabrics were from classic cloth merchants, like Crescent Trading in Shoreditch. When I tell people that they're all classic fabrics, they always act so surprised, which in a way makes me happy. I wanted to work with them in new ways.
“I played with the shirting fabrics but changing the stripe direction, playing with the bias to create comfortable fits. The shirts in my collection also use the selvedge scraps to create a football scarf fringing like effect in all the seams.
“All of the football scarves were knitted for me at Kingston University on the Shima digital knitting machine. I used acrylic yarn for the football scarves, I thought it was really important to keep the scarves as close to a life like product as possible, keeping really true to my original inspiration. Because no football fan swans around in a Merino or alpaca wool scarf, at least not the ones I was looking at.”What are the signature piece/pieces?
“I have to say a Gezza football scarf and the top made completely out of scarves. That piece has kind of gone a bit crazy with stylists, so much so I've had to make a second one.”Did you enjoy your Graduate Fashion Week experience?
“Graduate Fashion Week feels like so long ago now, it's been a bit of a whirlwind ever since. But all in all, yeah it was amazing. It was crazy to see some people I’ve admired for so long posting pictures of my stuff on their Instagram and blogs - even if they spelt my name wrong, although it's written on every garment.”
“I chose Kingston because of the internship opportunities mainly in the second year. They only allow paid positions where you actually design on some level, which really is what interning should be about. It's a step in the right direction as far as how attitudes towards skilled interns should be treated, in my opinion.”What was the most valuable thing you learned on your course?
“Probably, to just keep going. Keep pushing your work and trying a bit harder. I think the industry would say the most valuable thing would be how to do a brill technical pack.”What do you wish you had been told before you started your degree?
“That you're still going to have to write a dissertation on an art course, and you'll need to take out a bank loan to buy a pint in London.”What are your plans now that you've graduated?
“I'm currently interning at a brand on Savile Row, trying to learn more about craftsmanship and design styles that will help me in the future to sculpt my aesthetic. After I'd love to do a Masters course, maybe at the Royal College of Art or Westminster's new course specifically for Menswear.”
“I'd tell them to work hard, but still have fun so you don't end up suffocating. I'd let them know that people studying courses like English probably won’t understand your choice of course or how hard you need to work, but it's okay. I'd tell them to do you, go with your gut, listen to your tutors enough but not too much, neoprene has had its day and finally get paid when you work.”What designers/labels do you most admire?
“I really love Ximon Lee, Juun J and Xander Zhou. There's something about Asian brands and designers that's just really cool. I really love Jeremy Scott's stuff for Moschino and Fendi Homme. Strange mix.”Have you undergo any design placements?
“I've completed placements in New York, London, and Cape Town. I learnt loads in New York working at Banana Republic. It's a whole other side to the industry that's normally considered boring, but no one day was ever the same. I learnt a tremendous amount about fabrics, manufacturing, networking, research and development and making good decisions as a designer.
“In London, I’ve worked with multiple brands that show at LCM and LFW. Those taught me how to source good trimmings and fabrics in my city. They taught me how to sew better, and how to pull a great all-nighter.”Images: courtesy of James Geraghty