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Ayana Benedict

16th May 2021

Inspired by the idea of cultural fusions which celebrate the idea of the collective, Fashion Design BA student Ayana Benedict enhances and promotes designs with a global appeal, taking care not to appropriate and rather to champion different cultures. ‘The Company We Keep’ is a menswear collection which reflects on the effects of colonialism and globalisation, balancing traditional and contemporary design styles. The concept for the collection is a visualisation of Indian Pidgin English which is a grammatically simplified form of language, through subtle details, fabric textures, and construction methods.  

Ayana draws from her personal experiences, and began by studying the dialect of her family as a base for her research. She said: “The collection sartorially represents the linguistic struggle from my own perspective. It is an observation of minorities whose native tongue is not English.” As part of her in-depth research into IPE, Ayana studied transcripts of text, highlighting and circling grammatical errors and repetition of words. The shapes and lines resulting from this thorough exploration informed textures and design details within fabric and garment construction, such as double cuffs inspired by the repeated words. 

Post pandemic, the fashion industry will increasingly rely on digital presentation methods and the evolving role of global fashion weeks and runway shows in a digital world. As a designer, Ayana is drawn to digital aspects of design such as creating technical CAD drawings on the Adobe Creative Suite and detailed technical packs for manufacturers to follow closely. During the pandemic Ayana has used the time working from home to enhance her 2D skills, producing in-depth garment studies to understand garment construction and expand on her knowledge of fabrication, which in turn has led to innovations in her 3D work via sampling and toile making. 

The complex topics such as colonial India and Indian Pidgin English explored in Ayana’s final major project show a considered and contemporary approach to research and development while maintaining her historical roots, conveyed in a forward-thinking and thought-provoking way. The conceptual nature of this collection pushes the boundaries of Indian fashion in a global context, focussing on cutting edge garment details and silhouettes rather than the traditional way Indian aesthetics are shown through elaborate prints and textiles. She contextualises the project by studying key garments within colonial India and the evolution in Indian menswear tailoring, resulting in a modern cross-cultural menswear collection for the spring / summer season. 

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