Although the Covid-19 lockdown has brought many aspects of life to a standstill, @WestKentCollege third year BA(Hons) Fashion & Textile student Finn Wicks hasn’t let this hinder his progress on the practical elements of his course work at home.
His year group would usually be putting the finishing touches to their collections for their final catwalk show in a couple of weeks, and having the pieces photographed on mannequins. Obviously, all that has changed.
“Although the situation has brought lots of challenges, I’ve enjoyed the time to be creative and focus on finishing my designs without some of the distractions of normal life.”
Finn has completed the seven garments for his final collection hunched in front of a sewing machine on his bedroom floor. He is also preparing for an interview with Central Saint Martins to study an MA, having been shortlisted after submitting his digital portfolio.
“The unusual situation – being interviewed via Zoom with a digital rather than physical portfolio – brings its nerve-wracking challenges, but I’m very excited by the opportunity. “
As if Finn wasn’t busy enough, he also accepted an additional assignment triggered by the challenging times. A family friend was involved in setting up a Covid-19 unit for the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and got in touch with a request to see if Finn could make a bulk order of hospital scrubs.
He took on the task and asked around friends and neighbours to see if they had any suitable spare fabric to donate. He says: “The response was incredible, I received bags and bags of fabric left outside our door – I was drowning in it!”
Finn was provided with a very simple pattern and got to work: “I work very fast, so was producing around 8-9 pairs of scrubs a day.”
The family friend was only expecting Finn to produce around 20 pairs. He produced 50. After the friend shared his startling productivity on a Facebook group post, individual nurses began getting in touch with Finn to order scrubs for themselves. All this from a student who claims he ‘couldn’t even use a sewing machine’ when he started at College!
With the scrub orders fulfilled, he was able to dedicate time to working on his final collection, inspired by the clothing of the French Revolution. He explains: “Before I even started my fashion course, I was a history geek. I love the clothing of that period as the focus was more on a statement than the practicalities common to most modern clothing. It was more like wearing art, and I love the showy nature and theatre of it.
“I also love clothing that is intrinsically tied into a particular pivotal moment in history, be that the French Revolution or the Second World War, for example, as I think those garments instantly project the drama and upheaval of the era.”
His other design passion is mixing elements of historic clothing with modern clubwear. “Wearing a historical outfit to a club is not everyone’s idea of cool, so I love the challenge of reinterpreting some of those outfits and subtly incorporating them into modern garments that people would consider wearing in a club.”
His choice to study at West Kent was prompted both by geography – he lives fairly locally – and knowing that he didn’t want to stay on into sixth form at his secondary school, seeking to pursue his passion for the creative arts elsewhere.
He says: “I’ve loved it here at College. My favourite aspect of the degree programme has been the freedom of it. As long as the lecturers see you are focused, they let you steer your projects and I’ve really enjoyed being able to pick my own themes.”
“The Fashion department is great and the staff are all lovely. They’ve helped me so much and I’ve known them for so long now that they really feel like family.”