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Olivia Fletcher, BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Marketing

28th June 2022

Fashion was always something Olivia Fletcher, who joined Northumbria University from Nottingham, was interested in, having spent a great deal of time growing up with her grandmothers, both keen crafters, one of them having worked with Nottingham’s most famous design export, Paul Smith.

Now a Graduate Fashion Week award winner, having been nominated in three categories, Olivia is mulling over a number of offers to join various fashion houses, but eventually hopes to build upon the creation of her final collection – a brand entitled ‘Otherness’ – and become an independent creator.

She said: “Northumbria University wasn’t originally my first choice because it’s so far from where I’m from, but having interviewed for five different courses, I came away from Newcastle feeling really positive. All the staff and students I spoke to seemed to really enjoy it here and were incredibly passionate. Even my mum said it was the clear choice.”

Of the three awards Olivia’s work was shortlisted for, she jointly won the Fashion Illustration Award, and was particularly pleased to also be considered for the Fashion Innovation Award because she feels this was great recognition for the fact that ‘Otherness’ is so people-focused, with an overarching aim of self-expression woven into each garment.

Olivia, who particularly admires the work of Loewe’s Creative Director and J.W.Anderson founder Jonathan Anderson, explained: “I want people wearing my garments to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

“While I realise such bold and colourful pieces aren’t for everyone, ‘Otherness’ is a quirky, fluid brand that promotes self-expression by putting people first. It’s ultimately about bringing joy to people, which was what inspired its original creation during lockdown.”

Initially after the Covid-19 outbreak, Olivia made a few pieces for friends, family and herself, but when people she didn’t know also showed an interest in her work, Olivia created an online shop and ‘Otherness’ was born.

This experience led her to volunteer as a member of the REVEAL team, working behind the scenes on the creation of the final degree show, which included portfolios being made available to viewers, including potential employers, online.

As an antidote to fast fashion, Olivia, whose final nomination was for the Fashion Marketing Award, wanted ‘Otherness’ to show the process of ageing in a positive way, so although she has specialised in knitwear throughout her final year, a jacket forming a centrepiece for ‘Otherness’ is 100 per cent upcycled, made up mostly of her grandfather’s old shirts, alongside offcuts from the rest of the collection. This piece was showcased as part of Graduate Fashion Week in London, alongside a dress, two bonnets and a skirt inspired by the theme of ‘Antique Queens’ under the ‘Otherness’ brand.

Olivia’s tutor Sarah Walton is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Design. She said: “We have been so impressed by the resilience and positivity shown by all of the students so affected by the pandemic and its associated restrictions during their studies.

“They’ve taken on those challenges, as well as the challenge of changing consumer behaviours through their work, and really getting to grips with what people want from tomorrow’s fashion brands.

“Olivia’s collection, which is underpinned by thorough research, is rooted in the idea of positive affirmations and seeing the best in people, so to see that development in confidence and ability and to watch students like Olivia develop as young designers is really inspiring.”

Find out more about Northumbria’s BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Marketing.

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