St James Quarter celebrates local fashion talent

Five Edinburgh College of Art fashion students have been recognised by a suite of new prizes set up to nurture fresh design talent

The prizes have been awarded by St James Quarter – Edinburgh’s new retail-led, lifestyle district – which opened its first phase in June. 

The St James Quarter Design Prizes have been developed to reward a diverse spectrum of design skills among ECA fashion students.

Winning collections

The awards have been made in five categories – commercial direction; creative innovation; inclusive design; sustainability and technical accomplishment.

The students’ collections draw upon a range of influences, including historic costume, literature, sci-fi films and cultural identity.

The winning students’ creations were showcased in London at Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) in June – one of the fashion world’s biggest events for emerging stars.

Creative inspiration

The group of winning students includes Isabella Gutierrez whose collection takes inspiration from mythical beings from Scottish folk stories to explore themes of femininity and identity.

The environmentally friendly collection, which was awarded the prize for commercial direction, is constructed entirely from plant-based sources including washable paper coats and corsets.

Skye Bending’s dramatic womenswear collection was recognised for creative innovation. The creations are inspired by how women are portrayed in gothic literature and modern-day media.

Dramatic garments

The designer combines contrasting materials such as rubber and soft silky drapes for dramatic effect and employs alternative methods of construction to create her sophisticated garments.

Fashion graduate Nikita Vora describes her collection as a tool to educate people and celebrate the beauty of South-Asian people through illustrated prints and silhouettes.

The winner for Inclusive Design, the dazzling collection of prints and structured garments in vibrant colours takes its inspiration from the designer’s Indian culture and heritage.

Sustainable designs

Lucy Mitchell’s received the award for sustainability. The designer’s dazzling collection explores the themes of grief and intimacy in designs which experiment with textile innovations.

The garments included an innovative use of sustainable sealant to coat textiles to make them waterproof and durable.

Xiaohui Yu’s portfolio was recognised in the category of technical accomplishment. The student took inspiration from sci-fi books and films to create a collection set around a group of people leaving earth on a space ship.

The futuristic collection incorporates the intricate lines of navigation maps stitched into the textiles. 

Fashion Week

The attendance of ECA students at Graduate Fashion Week was also supported by St James Quarter, building on the destination’s ethos of supporting the Edinburgh community and making a positive contribution to the city’s culture.

Seventeen students studying Fashion at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) were selected to present their designs alongside other leading fashion schools.

Edinburgh students have a successful track record at Graduate Fashion Week, with many scooping prizes awarded by the Graduate Fashion Foundation.

ZiLing Dong received the Sportswear & Leisurewear Award supported by Gym Shark, as well as being one of the winners in W1 Curates x GFW competition, alongside fellow ECA graduate Nikita Vora.

Congratulations to all of the winning students for their innovative and professional collections. We are incredibly proud of all of our students – particularly how they have navigated the challenging circumstances this year.

Mal BurkinshawHead of the School of Design

St James Quarter is passionate about supporting and nurturing local talent.  We’re delighted to provide an opportunity and platform for the incredibly talented Edinburgh College of Art graduates to shine.

Rochelle WeirMarketing and Brand Director at St James Quarter

St James Quarter is a new £1bn fashion district in Scotland's capital. The Quarter is home to an enviable line up of brands including Zara, & Other Stories, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Lego, Hamleys and Lane 7, as well as an enticing mix of restaurants such as Bonnie & Wild food hall, Salerno Pizza and Maki & Ramen. Still to come is Scotland’s first W Edinburgh hotel, a boutique Everyman Cinema, a Roomzzz Aparthotel, and 152 residential apartments by Native Land.

BA Fashion

St James Quarter

ECA Graduate Show