In the wake of Graduate Fashion Week, Planet Notion is looking to the future. Over the coming week we will talk to various graduates, looking at their current collections, their inspirations, dreams and hopes for the future. Today we are thrilled to introduce Stuart Chapman, an already brilliant menswear designer, who’s collection has recently been snapped up by online retailer ASOS.com.
Stuart recently graduated from the BA Fashion course at Middlesex University. During his degree he interned with the ever talented and respected menswear designer Carolyn Massey. (carolynmassey.com.) Mr Chapman was also elected as one of the chosen few to win a tailoring competition in his second year of University.
Planet Notion : What is the inspiration behind your most recent collection?
Stuart Chapman: The main inspiration behind the collection was Nomad-ism & Hermitage. I researched into the ideals behind the two lifestyle choices & tried to emulate these throughout my outerwear. I was also influenced by the book The Supermodern Wardrobe, by Andrew Bolton, it was interesting to read how other designers were furthering outerwear to produce clothing relevant in contemporary society, a vexed generation in the 1990s for example. There was also an unintentional influence derived from ’90s workout videos. I joked it would be an inspiration & on reflection I think it’s evident in the fabrics, colours & styling used in the outfits. I think it’s good to allow a little bit of humour in though, otherwise it all gets a bit dull.
PN: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
SC: I focus my design work around functional or practical clothing, often developing details within garments as oppose to the garments themselves. I often find my design work will be centred around a more innovative pocket or a feature which will prove to be highly functional. I appreciate other designers who focus more on conceptual ideals or artistic garments but my mind works a bit too logically to design that way.
PN: Are there any particular construction/ design techniques or fabrics/materials that you specialise in?
SC: I specialise a lot with outerwear fabrics, anything from wax and ripstop, to products like Goretex. I think that is always the focal point in my work and often the most interesting.
PN: Are there any designers that have influenced your work or that you admire?
SC: I am always instantly more attracted to those with a strong emphasis on outerwear. In the recent collection parts of my research consisted of imagery from Nigel Cabourn, YMC, Miharayasuhiro, and CP Company.
PN: What are your hopes for the future?
SC: Ideally at some point in the future I’d like to think I would be able to start producing my own label and selling clothes under my own aesthetic. In the near future I hope to work for design companies I admire.
PN: In terms of employment and support, how do you feel the climate in the fashion industry is for recent graduates? Do feel it is a challenging time to be graduating?
SC: I think it is a challenging time to be graduating. I mean we’ve recently had a recession which a lot of people haven’t fully recovered from yet and a lot of design internships at present are unpaid, something not everyone is in a position to do. Also there are a lot more graduating fashion students at present then in previous years so the competition is a lot tougher then before.
PN: How do you see yourself developing and growing as a designer?
SC: I see myself continuing to develop my design work around outerwear, which is primarily what I love to design, and experimenting with new fabrics, details and construction techniques. I have studied fashion for 4 years now and in that time have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic people in the industry, when you measure their talent and ability against your own you realise how much there is still to learn. Every day at University taught me something new, whether it be in the construction of a garment or a more aesthetic way to finish a seam. I see myself developing as a continuation of what I have already started.
PN: The British fashion industry is world renowned for its creativity and new design talent. How does it feel to be included in this exciting and respected sector?
SC: I think Britain, London in particular, has an amazing reception when it comes to design talent. I am proud to say I have graduated at a London University.
PN: If you could work with any designer for a day who would it be?
SC: I would love to work with Miharayasuhiro, I follow every collection the brand does.
PN: Who would you love to dress or to see in your clothes? Your ideal customer?
SC: My ideal man would be someone with presence and self assurance, not arrogance though, whose clothes are just an extension of themselves as oppose to a portrayal of who they’d like to be. I do believe that a man should spend time putting his clothes on and then forget all about them.
Take a look at Stuart’s blog for a closer look at his collection and a taste of his research and design process.