Thrifty third-year styles second-hand fashion for Graduate Fashion Week

Date 16.03.2023

One University of Northampton (UON) Fashion Design student has kicked off her final year on the right foot after securing her place as a finalist in two national design competitions.

Third-year Fashion Design student, Emőke Stefan has stepped up to two challenges – the first set by UK charitable organisation, Graduate Fashion Foundation in collaboration with sustainable fashion start-up, Untagged, and the second set by Crisis x Love Not Landfill x GFF.

Fashion students from across the country were tasked with designing and creating a physical outfit made from second-hand clothing and no virgin materials in both competitions – with Emőke’s design catching the eye of judges across the board.

Emőke’s final design blended contemporary fashion design with upcycled clothing, using second-hand Adidas Predator trainers sourced from local charity shops as the centrepiece of her design – securing her a shortlisted place on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week in June.

On her final outfit, Emőke said: “Upcycling shoes is something I’ve become increasingly interested in within my final year of study, so when I received the brief for these competitions, I knew this was something I wanted as my core approach.

“I was struck by inspiration for my outfit in the middle of the night – almost like a lightbulb switched on and a voice said, “you have to do this!”. I spent the next two days working intensively to create my vision. I worked to combine a pair of trousers my housemate no longer wanted with the trainers I sourced from Barnardo’s.

“I’m really pleased with the overall final look and was really excited to see I had reached the finalist listing for the Untagged national competition. I can’t wait to see it on display at Graduate Fashion Week in June.”

After moving from her hometown of Brașov in Romania to start her studies at the University of Northampton in 2019, Emőke has been experimenting with her designs and exploring how to push the boundaries of high street fashion.

She said: “I’ve always been interested in fashion, however there are far fewer opportunities to progress my career back home, so I set my sights on studying at the University of Northampton.

“Whenever I went shopping, I’d get frustrated because I couldn’t find anything which I liked or suited my sense of style. In fact, my mother always used to say, “the things you want aren’t designed yet.”

“I’m excited to have these opportunities to explore my creativity on a practical level at the University of Northampton, and I can’t wait to use my newfound skills within the industry after I graduate.”

Now in her third year of study, Emőke is currently in the process of crafting her final year designs which will be presented during this year’s University of Northampton Runway Show on 22 June.

Her graduate collection will see factory offcuts of leather shoes – donated by local shoemakers, Trickers – transformed into a wearable outfits as she seeks to uncover a fashionable solution to non-recyclable footwear factory waste.

Emőke’s prototype design has already seen her achieve the Amanda Michel Microscopy scholarship award by The Worshipful Company of Curriers for her innovative methods of contributing towards more sustainable fashion, granting her £750 to contribute towards the development of her work which will be on display in June.

Find out more about studying Fashion Design at the University of Northampton.