LONDON — This year’s Graduate Fashion Week, typically held in London during the first weekend of June, had to be canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, but the charitable organization is introducing a series of digital alternatives to continue engaging design students both from the U.K. and abroad.
The aim was to create initiatives with a more flexible time scale and in line with the new social distancing rules. GFW also had to bear in mind the limited access to resources that this year’s graduates had to grapple with when completing their final-year projects.
GFW’s annual awards, which feature catwalk shows, have been reimagined with four new accolades for design students: Fashion Concept, Fashion Illustration, Fashion Range Plan and Technical Drawing awards.
A fifth Adaptation Award will be given to a student who demonstrated the most “resourcefulness and problem-solving skills” during this time.
The finalists for each category will be announced on June 10, with the judging taking place in July and the winners announced in the fall.
The charity, which usually showcases the work of design, photography, marketing and styling graduates from more than 78 universities across the U.K. and abroad, sees the awards as a platform for students whose university showcases have been canceled due to the pandemic.
With that in mind, it will also be offering portfolio support for students via a partnership with the professional network The Dots. The Graduate Fashion Foundation has created a profile on The Dots’ platform that will feature graduates’ portfolios for industry professionals to view. They will then direct them to students’ personal profiles.
Other initiatives include a webinar series, where graduates from the universities working with Graduate Fashion Week will be able to receive advice from industry experts such as the British photographer Rankin and former editor in chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman.
A live celebratory event is also scheduled to take place on a “flexible date” this fall in London, where graduates from member universities can showcase their portfolios alongside their tutors. Design students who saw their schools’ graduate showcases canceled this summer, will also have the opportunity to present their collections at the Graduate Fashion Week’s showroom or catwalk event held at the same time.
“We placed an emphasis on listening to the needs of the 2020 graduating students and those of our academic members,” said Douglas MacLennan, acting chair of Graduate Fashion Week. [The result is] the most innovative series of launch activities to date.”