International materials in London fashion

March 08, 2016

Last month we were fortunate to attend the International Fashion Showcase 2016 at Somerset House, London. In the days that followed, we posted this article, which took an in-depth look at the theme of utopia that the IFS chose to adopt this year. The blog focused on the symposium that ran for one day during the event and included talks by PhD researchers from Courtauld Institute of Art.

The IFS ran for 4 days and its main offering was the showcasing of 15 galleries, 14 of which represented a country and the final one called 'Next in Line' featured designers from 10 other countries. This week we discuss some of the materials from across the world used in fashion that we discovered at this year’s IFS, bringing London some of the most interesting and unique designs.

When we first entered Somerset House we discovered the stand representing the Philippines. This gallery offered pieces from a group of young designers who had experienced intimacies with dystopia in society growing up. This in turn has inspired them to use a whole range of distinctive materials that they have encountered through their life and culture.

The dress below was designed by Jared Servano and is made with fibres from the bark of banana trees, which are abundant throughout the Philippines. The material is fairly similar to linen and Jared’s use of it demonstrates how a highly unique style can be achieved through the innovative use of obscure materials.

The Romanian gallery at the IFS 2016 aimed to rediscover Romania’s cultural tales of lost treasure. Over 2000 years ago, Romania’s ancient Dacian civilization intentionally hid various treasures in preparation for a Roman invasion. Inspired by the early stories of their country, these designers have recreated history through the use of sedimentary material.

The beautiful jewellery piece below was designed by Adelina Petcan and contains soil.

The group of designers from Egypt at this year’s IFS were all inspired by both the country’s rich history and bright future; having the freedom in post-revolution Egypt to explore new materials and design. Sabry Marouf have used vegetation-tanned leather to craft their debut collection. This type of leather is entirely natural, which means it can be easily moulded through wetting it, stretching it and then allowing it to dry. These natural treatments have given them the liberty to create uniquely shaped handbags inspired by their culture and history.  Their collection, ‘Armana’, has been developed through research on art and sculpture from the Amarna period in Ancient Egypt.

The IFS reminded us of how important it is to incorporate international fashion with London; as it brings us materials and creativity that we would otherwise not discover. The British Fashion Council recognises this importance, which is why it launched the IFS 4 years ago to run alongside London Fashion Week. SHERENE MELINDA is also a brand that has a similar inspiration behind its use of materials in fashion design. It is designers like the ones at IFS that continue to keep the London fashion scene fresh and interesting. It was a fantastic experience and we want to thank the British Fashion Council and the designers involved!

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