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Graduate to Watch: Jonathan Preston, Edinburgh College of Art

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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The Edinburgh College of Art always has a strong line-up showing at Graduate Fashion Week, with this year being particularly strong especially in menswear, with Jonathan Preston’s vibrant and playful menswear collection standing out during the gala show.

FashionUnited sat down with Preston, who won the Topman Graduate Talent award, regarding the inspiration behind his collection, why Edinburgh College of Art is a great place to study, as well as his plans for the future.

Why did you want to be a fashion designer?

“I had always been really into drawing and being hands-on as a child, so naturally as I became older going to art school became a valid option, and I always saw fashion as a great overall way of combining skills such as drawing, textiles and making actual garments.”

What was the inspiration for your graduate collection?

“A variety of influences such as surrealist art, collage, pop-art and biker jackets all combined in order to create a colourful and slightly comedic twist on classic garments such as a slim trouser (with the skeleton appliqué) or men's leather jackets.”

What fabrics/techniques did you use?

“I utilised a lot of vector-cut vinyl which I applied to the garments with heat and this was a continual process where I could go back and add more appliqué even when the clothes were fully made. As well as this prints became an integral part of the collection as I only used fabrics I had designed myself, so a lot of time was spent learning repeats on photoshop. I was really interested in the craftsmanship and skills associated with leather, and during the process of making my jackets, tried to learn as much as possible.”

What are the signature piece/pieces?

“The signature pieces would definitely be the vinyl-appliqued leather jackets as they define the silhouette and variety of colours within the collection. As well as this, I really explored print and drawing within the collection and a key garment that shows this would be the large padded jacket where the print is a collaged amalgamation of many of the prints I used within other garments.”

Why did you choose to study at Edinburgh College of Art?

“Edinburgh always really appealed to be and as financially I had the lower tuition fees being a Scottish student, and it is the only Scottish school which has a show at Graduate Fashion Week when considering applications it became my only option quite quickly.”

What was the most valuable thing you learned on your course?

“That the most important thing when creating a body of work or designing a collection it is that you have to be really interested in your source material and engaged with it, and in turn hopefully your work becomes an enjoyable process.”

What do you wish you had been told before you started your degree?

“That it is a huge financial investment and that in general the industry seems geared towards students who can afford to undertake unpaid internships during their summers. This creates an unfair dynamic and must make the demographics of some design houses very boring and less diverse.”

What are your plans now that you've graduated?

“I took part in two UK competitions with the British Fashion Council and was really to lucky come first place in a design project with Topman, and second place with another design project from Burberry, so I will be off to start a 3-month paid placement with Burberry and then a 12-month paid placement with Topman this summer.”

What advice would you give someone considering studying fashion?

“To try and enjoy it as never worry about how you feel you compare to your classmates, as everyone will progress in a completely different way.”

What designers/labels do you most admire?

“Some favourites at the moment in no particular order would be Bobby Abley, Sibling, Walter Van Beirendonck, Henrik Vibskov and Charles Jeffrey.”

Images: courtesy of Jonathan Preston

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