Q+A MEET GEORGE CLARKE AND HIS AWARD WINNING STREET BRAND JUST 1 YEAR ON
Graduating from Bath University just one year ago, with a passion for streetwear and a love of textiles, particularly Denim, George Clarke is turning heads at the top with an incredible list of achievements. His style epitomises a new generation and a the reform of fashion as we know it!!
Embracing new technologies, sustainable practice and collaboration with many leading companies, the GEC brand that George founded whilst still at university has an exciting future:
George: Tell us why you decided on a career in Fashion?
Growing up all I was interested in was skateboarding, and with skateboarding there was a very unique edgy style, which inspired me daily to dress differently and style myself before I would go skating. This became quite a conscious habit and I find myself at a young age hitting up charity shops and buying garments to style out and alter to have a new original look because growing up I was never able to afford all the cool brands and expensive stuff so I decided to create it myself.
I always worked in retail through my education as clothes where my passion, and enjoyed dressing and styling customers. All of my education qualifications are in fashion, art and design, textiles, so my heart always lied with fashion and I have always wanted a career within it.
Why did you choose Bath University?
Bath was one of my first options for a university because I had heard great things about it, not only was it in a beautiful part of England, but the course itself offered so much. Bath Fashion course was taught in a historical building in the centre of Bath and the house itself was like a professional studio and each year only had around 20-25 students so you had more one on one time with the highly experienced lecturers.
Bath taught me so much from the basic of sewing to advance tailoring, I had opportunities to work on live briefs with high-street brands, also advance my fashion drawing skills to a professional level. Louise Pickles the head of course was a huge reason for my choice; Louise is a very educated and highly known figure within the fashion industry and has helped me through my studies and career to date, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help and support all of the Bath Spa university staff.
What inspires you the most?
I am extremely passionate about street wear and street culture, I love people watching and seeing how other people dress and style themselves, we all have a unique different style which we adapt growing up, so seeing this is a huge inspiration to me.
I have an odd obsession with abandoned buildings and derelict areas, I find it intriguing how these areas were once enjoyed and used for everyday use, they now have a very sinister look and feel. These areas inspire me for textures and prints and ways in which I can manipulate a fabric so is has a story of age to it.
How did you start using Denim?
Denim is a fabric which ages beautifully, it not only has an amazing story from where in originated from but it is such an amazing fabric to work with, there are so many creative conceptual looks and designs which can be done with denim, also as mentioned the age process of denim is beautiful, it’s a fabric which can tell a story, you can see how the owner wore or wears their denim, where they work, what they do, it shapes and distresses in a natural yet aesthetic way.
I have always shown an interest in denim from a young age, when I was growing up I would always purchase oversized jeans and distress them and alter them to my current style and look. Denim manipulation is so effective.
This is such a tough question, which I feel everyone has his or her own definition to; my personal opinion isn’t the cliché west coast skateboarding style. Streetwear to me is your own style and unique look to it; various subcultures adapt this to their own individual look.
I feel the word has no evident definition anymore, we dress to express ourselves in ways we can’t physically say, and clothing is a huge part of a person’s life, I would like to describe my clothing as a Luxury Streetwear brand but that is just to give it a title, I feel every style and subculture look is very expressive and beautiful in its own way and this is what inspires me.
Your clothes blur the gender lines; do you plan to expand on this for your next collection?
I would say I am a menswear designer, but my clothing I design is unisex, I love the look of oversized clothing draped on men and women. I don’t personally believe that clothing is designed and made for one sex; people express themselves through clothing so they can wear what they wish to feel comfortable and confident. I will continue to design a unisex range of clothing and do photo shoots of male and females wearing my garments.
How do you utilise sustainable fabrics?
Sustainability plays such a huge part in fashion, and designers today should have so much more involvement within practicing this, and being passionate about using denim I practice this constantly and educate myself with current innovation in sustainable methods and fabrics.
I had the amazing experience of working with Lenzing and Orta Denim, which both have apart and huge impact in the sustainable use of denim and other fabrics worldwide, a big part of my GEC®
Clothing which I sell is made from existing garments, where I have deconstructed and reconstructed them to have a new original look, I still stay very close with Lenzing and they have offered to support me with sustainable denim fabric for new and up and coming collections.
Denim offers so much innovation, have you looked into new technologies for printing / laser
Yes, Recently I attended Denim Premiere Vision at the Truman Brewery London, I met up with a company called Advance Denim, who have supported me and educated me in the denim world. They had been recently working with laser printing and cutting and many other methods, it’s fascinating to watch and the impact it has for changing the way denim is produced is fantastic. The laser cutting process is something I will be practicing in the near future, and this year I hope to be working on a collection of tailored denim with laser printing techniques.
Wow! What an incredible first year. Tell us about your year post graduation?
A year, which feels like a month, it’s been so fast paced, and exciting. During my final year studies I was designing and applying for multiple competitions, in which I was quite successful by becoming a finalist for British Fashion Council, Teatum Jones, British Library and Levi’s.
After showing my first GEC® 8-outfit collection, sponsored fabric by Huit Denim, I designed a fully sustainable outfit for the Denim Design Awards sponsored and supported my Lenzing and Orta Denim, from this was offered a job from GFW (Graduate fashion week) where I was interning for 6 month as a fashion creative consultant, during this period I was nominated for the Cassart and London School of fashion Draw Fashion Award, where my illustrations where shown in the Art Space Gallery Glasgow. From this I was asked by VIEW magazine to draw some illustrations for their new youth issue.
I then launched my first website, where I offer clothing which I have made and designed, also to view current portfolio work and photo shoots, to help promote myself as a designer and a brand.
In October last year I was selected from Arts Thread platform for the International Emerging Designer Award, where I was to fly out to New Zealand for the iD fashion week and show a 5-outfit collection.
This was where I was chosen for the Blunt design award, so a graphic of mine will be used on Blunt products sold worldwide as of September this year, and I will continue to work with them on new collaborations. I launched my brand GEC® clothing in my final year of studying, as I was selected for the Business Freelance Award, where I was giving a cash award to help start my brand. I have had my first collaboration with Everpress, which is a sustainable brand who only make what you sell, and also use recycled materials for all p&p, so I ran a 7-day campaign selling GEC® apparel.
What do you think makes your brand stand out from the crowd?
I unintentionally developed the GEC® brand while working of my final collection at university the ethos behind it was to do with mental health, which plays a huge part in todays society. I suffered from mental health through my life and I found that being creative and designing helped me escape these issues.
I expressed myself feelings through my clothing which had very distinctive characteristics and high contrast colour, the orange accent has become a key colour for the logo and the GEC® graphic which has slowly become recognisable, I feel a brand has to have a good history and mean full story behind it and where it came from and show passion and a journey, to me this is what stands out to people, as I love watching brands develop and grow when I no the designer has worked hard and is so passionate and willing. This is what stands out.
What's next for your brand GEC®?
I am constantly designing and making new garments at home, but I have recently been offered an unconditional offer with Westminster doing an MA in menswear, this would be something I would love to do to establish myself more not only as a brand but a designer. But this is all depends on scholarships and funding to support my education.
I am also working with some new London based factories for some new GEC® Apparel for later this year. Also have some new potential things in the pipeline for this year.
How can the Fashion Industry better help emerging designers?
I think firstly more fashion industries should be paying for interns, to gain experience you need to work within a studio, but unfortunately a lot of brands don’t pay, which makes it difficult. I would like to see more fashion brands collaborating with emerging designers however big or small, it helps us establish ourselves and gain valuable experience for the future.
There should be more funding available to help support emerging designers, there is a few companies that offer scholarships, but fashion courses are very expensive, and would be great to see more companies getting involved with this, as we all wear clothes.