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Future Designers Reject Status-Quo, Commercialism And Stereotyping

Amid a global pandemic when events are far and few between, Ara’s Pitch fashion show would undoubtedly have been one of the only live runway shows to go ahead in the world this year.Despite COVID-19 interrupting this academic year, fashion students from Ara’s Bachelor of Design produced work which dazzled audiences on the catwalk at Pitch on Friday 20 November at Ara’s city campus.

The show featured collections from 36 students across the first, second and third years of their degree, with the third-year students presenting their final Ara collection before they launch their careers in the fashion industry.

Each collection was underpinned by the individual designer’s creative expression, although there were a few reoccurring themes which are particularly relevant to the world’s current political state: inclusivity, sustainable materials and a rejection of fast-fashion, as well as lots of pieces created with a more casual vibe which would be at home in any 2020 closet.

Final-year student Ren Ge’s collection ‘My life in lockdown 2020’ impressed viewers with the Avant Garde style, kooky accessories, and relatability factor.

"When life shrinks to the size of a bubble, have you noticed that the mundane objects aroundyou begin to stand out and you start to think of the meaning and beauty of them? My project is heavily based on my personal life in lockdown, 2020. The lockdown life has led me to experience unprecedented changes and to look inward," she said.

My collection is a portrait of this lonely, anxious, and bittersweet time of isolation. This collectioncombines the idea of "dress above the keyboard", "kept being distracted", "drawn in bed" and "loving companionship of a cat."

The first model of Ge’s line-up emerged dressed business style on the top in a pinstripe shirt, with pyjamas on the bottom half and slippers on her feet- a homage to 2020 work-from style. A pillow hat on her head and caution tape print interwoven with the striped fabric, the model won some applause from viewers with her eye-rolls and bored expression.

The following outfits included a sleeping pillow from an airplane, patchwork style clothes, fabric printed with fast-food packets, soft drink can earrings and a trusty Starbucks coffee cup.

At the end of the night Ge was awarded the "Ara Excellence Award for Innovative Design in Fashion Technology and Design"- an honour to receive for a final-year student.

Nina Mill’s collection ‘Shelter Me SS21’ also stood out at Pitch for her use of inventive materials, in the form of second-hand tents which she upcycled.

"The collection draws inspiration from architecture and historical references that have an emphasis on shelter. The collection is targeted at music festival-goers and travellers. I created a sense of shelter, using layering, multifunctional garments and transformable garments," Mill said.

Pieces from Mill’s collection used draping to create interesting silhouettes, and featured zips and ties from the tents.

Mill said, "Some other types of shelter that inspired my designs are structural huts, umbrellas, pergolas, archways, sunshades and other architectural elements."

"Sustainable fashion is important to me because the fashion industry creates so much waste through fast fashion. I believe that it is important for people to educate themselves and start supporting locally made companies to help shift the focus away from fast fashion."

After finishing her degree Mill aspires to work in a collaborative studio space with some classmates where they will emphasise timeless designs and quality-made garments.

Pitch was livestreamed and a saved version can be viewed here: https://www.ara.ac.nz/study-interest-areas/art-and-design/fashion/pitch-runway-and-exhibition/

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