Jake London is in his third year studying Fashion Design at De Montfort University, where he has experimented with many different forms, textiles, and prints, as well as across menswear and womenswear. Having settled on womenswear as a designer, he is interested in textiles and the use of different patterns, textures and colours, and silhouettes and shapes. His work on his degree so far has seen him create bold grey and black denim tops with highly innovative silhouettes, a pink graphic printed tailored piece of outerwear, a dress in blue and red gingham fabric, and his capsule collection, which featured bright orange fabric mixed with black and white gingham prints. We caught up with Jake to find out more about his projects and aims as a fashion designer.
What made you want to study Fashion Design at De Montfort University?
It was on a trip to Graduate Fashion Week with my college where I was studying fashion BTEC in clothing that I found De Montfort. We went to see the show and I fell in love with what the DMU fashion course represented; freedom of speech and expressive, exciting and limitless creativity. Then when I went to an open day at the university all the tutors were very accommodating and open, and seeing the students working in a great studio environment that had lots of buzz and a great energy meant it felt like home.
How would you describe the style of your designs and the pieces you make?
My pieces are very expressive through the use of print. I naturally gravitate to digital print because the thought of making my own fabric really excites me, it allows you to have complete freedom in the 3D process and I feel it gives you control over your concept and inspirations by projecting your idea so clearly to the surface. I’m also experimenting with drape by making 2D traditional pattern cutting very large and then seeing how it drapes and reacts on the body.
What do fashion, clothing, and textiles mean to you?
Fashion is very exciting right now. It’s not only about what you put on your back, it’s a global network for creatives to escape from the real world, but to reflect on it at the same time. Looking at the creative courses at De Montfort, there is a real energy that connects all the courses together and you’re able to see how different creative minds work. Clothing that you love is a great way to set yourself up for the day by wearing something that you truly desire or feel good in. You walk a bit taller and feel just that bit more ambitious about the day ahead. Textiles is something that I have loved for a long time; there are so many traditional aspects of textiles that are still alive and used every day. But what really is exciting, is seeing the new generation of young designers push the boundaries of textiles and how they apply them to fashion.
What projects have you done on your course?
There are so many different projects from the start of year one to our final major project that are designed to teach you to think about design in different ways. The first project was called Form, Silhouette and Detail, where we were given a selection of black fabrics to take away the use of colour, and to instead focus on other important aspects of design. The most interesting aspect in the project was silhouette, allowing you to make an excessive fashion which is more wearable art than clothing, which allows you not only to push your technical pattern cutting, but to think about design differently. Then at the end of the first year you have complete creative freedom and the chance to apply yourself as a designer and clarify your aesthetic. At the start of second year, there is the Outerwear project, where you are taught how to make a traditional tailored jacket and then you make your own outerwear piece.
At the start of third year we are given industry competitions where we submit projects and get the chance to represent the university and gain valuable prizes to help our future careers. These competitions include: FAD, GAP, Levi, Stradavarious, Fashion Freedom, Coach, Hand and Lock. In third year there is also a project called Bootcamp where you are given the task to replicate a designer garment that has been specifically chosen for you in order to improve your time management, pattern cutting, sewing, technical finishes, and textiles. This project is a steep learning curve in different aspects for different people. I have just finished my capsule collection project, where you are again given complete creative freedom to experiment with ideas that you might want to take forward to the final major project.
“Fashion is very exciting right now. It’s not only about what you put on your back, it’s a global network for creatives to escape from the real world, but to reflect on it at the same time.”
Is there a piece you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I am very proud of my capsule collection as I feel I am advancing my use of print in the right direction, and I will be looking to experiment more with digital print in my final major project, with the goal to introduce new textile techniques. My concept for capsule collection was reflection, and I took this into 3D quite quickly by reacting to research imagery with pattern cutting exercises where I reflected patterns. I also looked at print a lot and how the properties of tailoring fabric can be changed through different reflections. The outcome was two dresses that could be attached together. The under layer dress was a red and yellow warped houndstooth check in a horizontal reflected pattern block dress. The over layer dress was a focus of reflected darts and draping traditional pattern cutting.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on my Final Major Project where I am studying how people interact with their own reflection. I’m looking into many different aspects, including dysmorphia, self-verification theory, and behaviour reflection, which I am finding really interesting. I’m more intrigued to investigate the phycology of reflection rather then literal reflections.
How has your creative style and abilities developed while studying?
I started out designing mens knitwear, mainly because coming from college where you are naturally taught womenswear, it was a breath of fresh air and I wanted to try something new. Moving into second year I went to back to womenswear, where I worked on my outerwear project and found my love for printed textiles. The outcome of the outerwear project was a bonded three piece neoprene suit with a printed suit illusion and a traditional tailored removable inside. The concept was creating illusions in tradition tailoring, and I entered it into the Golden Sheers competition this year.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt as a student?
I have learnt to allow myself to change as a designer. I am still very young as a creative and I have only made a handful of garments. I am allowing myself to grow and change as a young creative and not put myself in one category too quickly; I would like to move on to exciting new things in the future.
What do you aim to do with fashion, clothing, and textiles? What do you ultimately want to create or communicate?
In my final major project I want to create more expressive and avant-garde pieces that go back to creating an exciting silhouette, and apply a ‘more-is-more’ approach to the textiles and surface applications. I want to create object of desire rather than just clothing.
Do you have a dream project for the future?
I would love to work with accessories, jewellery, and footwear. I am incredibly interested in creating a brand and a head-to-toe look to my concepts. Allowing the concept to completely drown the wearer or model is very interesting to me. This is also appealing as it is pushing the boundaries of the concept and how you think about what you are inspired by, applying new techniques to the creative process, and keeping the spark alive.