Forging a career on the fashion scene

THEY are the future faces of Scotland's fashion scene...and Lady Gaga is already a fan of one of these talented designers.

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Womenswear designer Laura Ironside is working on her first collection
Womenswear designer Laura Ironside is working on her first collection

Laura Ironside, Rebecca Torres and Hilary Grant are helping to put Glasgow firmly on the fashion map.

As revealed in the Evening Times on September 15, they are part of a group of 10 of the most promising fashion firms and designers to benefit from Fashion Foundry, a new project led by the Cultural Enterprise Office to nurture creative talent in Scotland.

The scheme, which has been given £150,000 of funding from Creative Scotland, Wasps Studios and Scottish Enterprise, is running for 18 months.

It is based at Wasps' South Block studios – a 500,000 sq ft hub over four floors, near the centre of Glasgow, which supports hundreds of visual artists, other designers and architects.

Some members of the group think the project could even pave the way for the city to bring back fashion week.

Glasgow designer Deryck Walker, left, is one of the mentors who will give them practical advice to help take their businesses forward.

Deryck, who attended Cardonald College and was named Fashion Designer of the Year at the Scottish Style Awards in 2009, described the project as a "breakthrough".

He said: "We started thinking about it two years ago because there was a dire need to facilitate young people, or any person who was into fashion.

"This is a breakthrough because we've got designers all over the world, so why didn't we have a base here in Glasgow which works with the whole of Scotland that can then export to the rest of the world?

"We don't need to give up everything here and run away to London.

"We can travel and export ideas and products but we needed a base in Scotland – and now we have one."

Helensburgh-born Laura's design of a black rubber body piece was worn by pop queen Lady Gaga on stage.

Laura is still in the early stages of her business and is hoping to launch her first collection next year.

The 26-year-old said: "I really hope to produce more garments for clients and performers as well as boutiques.

"This is the first time anything like this has been established for young emerging designers, it's exciting for Glasgow.

"I'm working on my first collection at the moment and the Foundry is helping with all the practical parts of the business."

The group's work was recently sent to Japan for a showcase of Scottish textiles and fashion, where buyers from high-end department stores and independent shops could view their designs.

Hilary Grant, 27, from Prestwick in South Ayrshire, began her knitwear label by selling hats and scarves to family and friends and quickly realised there was a gap in the market.

She said: "I wanted to make a brand between really high-end luxury cashmere scarves and the lower-end acrylic scarves.

"I'm hoping to keep building more stockists over the next season and I want to gain more customers overseas and more stockists.

"Working on new designs is always a priority and being able to increase the range of styles of knitwear and experimenting with different yarns such as cashmere and angora is going to be a goal over the next few seasons."

Hilary said the scheme was helping to establish Glasgow as a key fashion city.

A Glasgow Fashion Week was founded in 2007, but then axed just two years later.

Hilary said: "I think Glasgow could definitely have its own fashion week again because there are so many talented people here who want to showcase their work."

"I think people really pull out the stops in Glasgow, they are always wearing high heels and look immaculate.

"It's a very stylish city."

Rebecca Torres, who lives in the West End of the city, has already sold some of her body-con dresses through online retailer ASOS,

The 26-year-old, whose pieces have also been sold by retailers in America, hopes that the Foundry's support will allow her to expand her firm even more.

She said: "I would love my dresses to be stocked on all the big major websites like Net a Porter, or in Harvey Nichols.

"I'd also like to maybe try and do a swimwear line in the future.

"My designs seem to be quite popular in America so I really want to take advantage of that."


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