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Ulster University students have been putting their design skills to the test thanks to the Live Here Love Here Fashion Forever competition in partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

The competition, designed specifically for first year Ulster University Textile Art, Design and Fashion students, focuses on sustainable fashion and repurposing clothes instead of throwing them out and hitting the shops for a new outfit.

The students were tasked with the mission of repurposing clothes and giving pre-loved items of clothing a new lease of life. With approximately 27,700 tonnes of textiles being disposed of in Northern Ireland over the last 12 months there has never been a better time to learn about reimagining and repurposing your wardrobe- if you don’t wear it, don’t waste it!

Students had the choice of using different items of clothing or the fabric to design something completely new, or reusing yarns to create a knitted/crocheted garment, with the option of reworking the garment into a different/repurposed piece.

Throughout the competition students had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry via webinars and presentations from Anna Schuster, Sustainable Fashion Designer and Redress Design Award finalist, Siobhan Purnell from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, and Ulster University Alumna and Jump the Hedges founder Siofra Caherty.

Alison Gault, Belfast School of Art Senior Lecturer at Ulster University, spoke about the importance of the competition, saying:

“Fast fashion is an ever-growing issue for a number of reasons, including its carbon footprint and the negative impact it has on the environment. This competition was an opportunity for our students to focus on sustainability and put their creative skills to use, therefore embedding good ethical approaches into their individual practice. We were delighted by the creativity of our students who were able to transform old clothes and unwanted fabrics and yarns into completely new pieces.

“As industries such as fashion and textiles are seeking to adapt by bringing environmental solutions, it is important that students have the opportunity to learn at the design stage how to address the issues facing their chosen industry. Working together with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a stellar example of how we incorporate different means of learning and involve students in industry trends.”

The winner of the competition was Brooke Nixon and Anastacia McGivern and Karen Hegarty were runners up.

Brooke Nixon winner of the competition, shared their delight at their victory:

“The ‘Reimagine Design Competition’ provided me with the freedom to create supported by industry insight from experts currently working in the textiles and fashion industry. I was able to challenge the concept that ‘sustainability isn’t fashionable’, by transforming second hand garments into colour co-ordinating staple wardrobe pieces.”

Siobhan Purnell, Tackling Textiles Coordinator at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful commended the students’ efforts on reimagining their items of clothing, saying:

“It was a pleasure to be part of the judging for the competition.  I really enjoyed seeing the creativity from all the students who took part and how they took old textiles and clothing and created something really special and wearable.

As a society we are throwing away more textiles and clothing than ever before. We overconsume and underuse our clothing.  We need to fall back in love with the clothing we already have in our wardrobes and also take time to reuse, repair and reimagine our clothing.  The students have really provided some great inspiration on what is possible and embracing Fashion Forever.

For tips and advice check out our @fashionforeverni Instagram page.”