The science behind fashion: UN student comes up with a glowing design

Date 16.11.2015

Combining fashion with chemistry is not something that most fashion students would consider, but Daniyal Khan, a third year Footwear and Accessories student at the University of Northampton, did just that and has created a ground-breaking technological glow in the dark leather solution.

Having come from a scientific background, Daniyal was studying medicine before deciding on a more creative path and applied to the University of Northampton in 2012 to study the BA (Hons) Fashion (Footwear and Accessories)​programme. Now in his final year, he is one of 1,000 students showcasing his bespoke leather men’s bags and footwear at this year’s Graduate Fashion Week.

Fashion courses at the University of Northampton are unique; the strong link with the leather industry, through the Institute for Creative Leather Technology (ICLT) and the only functioning tannery at any University in the UK gives a unique perspective on this material. This offers fashion students a unique opportunity to develop their knowledge and expertise when working with leather, from understanding the importance of sustainable and ethical sourcing of the raw materials, through to high end leather working for the fashion and footwear industries.  Daniyal used the University’s tannery facilities to dye and emboss the leathers which he used for his final collection.

Daniyal created his innovative glow in the dark leather, with abstract printed design by making and mixing his own chemicals at the University of Northampton during a fashion material sample development process. His solution differs to current glow chemicals as it can be applied to leather and glows infinitely, rather than the standard 15 minutes of other products. His catwalk-ready collection, which is sponsored by Northampton-based Church’s Shoes, has been shortlisted for the Boohoo Fashion Innovation Award, with the final judging taking place during Graduate Fashion Week.

Talking about his concept, he said: “There are endless possibilities to working with leather. People tend to think that because it’s a traditional material the only innovation you can bring to it is through embossing or surface treatments, like painting, dying or patterns details, but I strongly believe that it can be very interactive as well and I always had a vision for bring an innovation to a natural material like leather”.

“It took me a long time to develop my chemicals and I was constantly working around it throughout my final year. There were a lot of health and safety hazards to comply with and tests but I eventually came up with the perfect solution! I plan to bring innovation to leather or any other material so after I graduate this summer, I will continue to work on incorporating science and fashion.”

​Northamptonshire’s shoe and boot making heritage dates back almost 900 years and over 25 manufacturers still operate within the county, with big names, such as Dr Martens, Church’s Shoes and Crockett & Jones. The University has strong connections with the industry and often hosts regular guest speakers, as well as supporting the students with internships and work placements.​​