Ancestors as sartorial inspiration with Joseph Storer

Ancestors as sartorial inspiration with Joseph Storer

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Joseph Storer

Fashion designer

Fashion designer Joseph Storer had always been amazed by fashion from a young age, whether it was the glamour of the catwalk, the creativity and poise of the photoshoots or the fine gloss and finesse of the latest magazines. Having first gone down a more academic route when he was younger, he eventually went into studying Fashion and Textiles at Nottingham Trent University in order to fulfil his burning desire for creativity. Here to now speak about some of his exquisite work, such as his graduate collection which was inspired by a photograph of his Great Great Uncle from the First World War, is the Top Young Designer at the Midlands Fashion Awards, Joseph Storer.          

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How was the experience of studying fashion design at Nottingham Trent University?

Studying Fashion Knitwear Design at Nottingham Trent University has been an experience like no other. I have thoroughly enjoyed my four years on the BA (Hons) course. The School of Art and Design has a plethora of creativity and facilities. All the students and staff help to create a broad network of support and help nurture and grow your creativity so that to achieve your best possible outcomes. The course is really well structured and teaches you the aspects needed for a successful career in the creative industries. The built in sandwich year in industry is an excellent addition, which is undertaken after your second year. This helps you apply the broad range of skills you acquire in both the first and second years before coming back and embarking on your final year where you combine all that you have learnt from University and industry to create your own negotiated project.  The campus which is located in the heart of Nottingham city centre, is excellently planned out and has such a range of facilities and creates a haven for students from all backgrounds to achieve their aspirations and goals.

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What inspired you to create a collection inspired by family ancestors? How did you conduct research on this?

It all started with a photograph of that sits on our mantlepiece at home of my Great Great Uncle taken during the First World War. From this one photograph I developed an entire concept. From my research I delved deep into the family archives and unearthed a wealth of information from notebooks, photographs, medals and books to really analyse my family history. I then discovered I had three ancestors who were involved in both World Wars. In the First World War my Great Great Uncle and my Great Great Great Uncle, before discovering I had a third cousin who fought in the Second World War. This led me on a long personal journey to admire and to respect my ancestors for the parts they played in history. I then combined this with secondary research into both World Wars and visits to both the Imperial War Museum London and the Churchill War Rooms London, to analyse the war art, war uniforms, medals, inspirational texts to reinforce my personal family research and to broaden the project. I combined within the project my love of the Great British landscape and used this as inspiration for my colour palette and reinforced by old family photographs of the Nottinghamshire countryside. All this research helped me produce a collection that is a mix of the traditional and the contemporary, that uses 100% British yarns, textures inspired by wartime and the countryside, all knitted and made in Nottingham and celebrates heritage, culture and the human spirit.

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Which piece was your favourite?

Out of the entire collection I would say that the final outfit is my favourite, which is a mock jacket jumper that depicts my Great Great Uncle from the First World War combined with extracts from his notebook. It shows the detail that can be created with knit and the shape which is a play on both traditional and contemporary design to make it as unique as possible. The buttons on the garment were made from waste pieces of fabric to minimise the environmental impact of the garment and links to the ‘make do and mend’ culture of the war years.

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Which piece took the longest to create?

All of the pieces were very time-consuming to create as there are approximately 13 garments which make up the collection. The outfit that took longest to create was the textured Burgundy and mustard wool, angora mix cardigan with cotton semi transparent vest and tailored navy cotton trouser. This outfit due to the amount of pieces of fabric needed to be knitted before constructing the garment was quite high. The finishing aspects of the garments were time consuming as well.

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If you could give advice to students just starting out their fashion degree, what would it be?  

Whichever creative course you are doing I would say embrace every aspect of it. Make the most of all the facilities available, collaborate with other departments and specialisms if possible, make the most of all the lecturers you are surrounded by and use their knowledge, support to help inspire and aide your path through the course. Most importantly enjoy every moment of it and don’t be afraid to question every aspect of your work and go with your gut feeling so that it can guide you to achieving your best. Lastly embrace every opportunity that comes your way, you never know where it will lead you.

How was it to receive an award as the Top Young Designer at the Midlands Fashion Awards? 

Receiving the award was an amazing experience and I never expected to receive it for a second. Coming third in such a huge competition is such an honour and privilege to be chosen and recognised for my work is beyond words. I am extremely proud to have represented not only myself, but my course and alongside other competitors from other fashion and creative courses nationwide and at Nottingham Trent University, who I really enjoyed networking with and seeing their works up close and on the catwalk.

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What is one of your favourite designers?

That’s the trouble with fashion, you are surrounded by so many inspirational and talented designers across all disciplines. For me one of my favourite designers has to be Sir Paul Smith. His mix of tradition meets quirky is an excellent design style and concept. I love his creativity with colour and the mix between traditional and contemporary shapes. He is a constant source of inspiration for me throughout my design works.

Where do you see yourself professionally in the next five years? 

In the next give years I see myself continuing to build up my skills and experiences, as I always enjoy pursuing and building upon my skills, experiences and opportunities. I also have the ambition to begin my own brand one day, at the moment I am not sure whether this will be in the next five years or longer, but it is a goal and aspiration of mine.

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Want to find out more about Joseph Storer? Check out his Ocotur

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