A digitally rendered look from Alexander Knight's graduate collection from Ravensbourne University

LONDON — Ten fashion design students from the class of 2020 at Ravensbourne University here will present their final collections on digital avatars in Rave Digital, a downloadable game, created in partnership with students from the gaming course on Twitch, a popular livestreaming platform owned by Amazon. The presentation will take place on Monday at 5 p.m. GMT.

A creative response to the coronavirus disruptions, the students spent less than six weeks creating the final works. Ravensbourne said this is the first fashion course in the world to embark on such a project.

“Our students take on a strong digital sensibility at Ravensbourne from the get-go and our tech team are forward-thinking and able to adapt and constantly come up with new innovative ways of working,” said Lee Lapthorne, program director of fashion. “The result has been a truly collaborative project between students from separate courses. COVID-19 has enabled us to come together against the odds and continue to showcase our students’ work in the very best light under their own unique creative control.”

“This unique project is a great fit for the 1.5 million people on Twitch at any given second.,” Harry Packer, UK partnerships manager at the platform. “Twitch is all about communities coming together around shared passions and interests. With a legacy in gaming, Twitch’s content now spans all creative categories from art to cooking, body painting to cosplay meaning Twitch is the perfect home to explore the intersection between fashion and gaming.”

Del Juan Brown, a men’s wear student at Ravensbourne, said: “The digital translation was the most rewarding aspect of this project. From a tangible process — refining cuts and details on paper, to then creating prototypes on a program in a short period of several weeks was a fulfilling challenge.” His collection “Take Flight” aims to encapsulate the embracing of Gen Z’s non-conformity.

A visual illustration of Del Juan Brown's graduate work digital transformation.

A visual illustration of Del Juan Brown’s graduate work digital transformation.  Courtesy Photo

Women’s wear design student Alexander Knight was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make adjustments on 3-D models. “If the fabric wasn’t draping right I could adjust the fabric properties. It was actually really intuitive and saved me a lot of time once I got the hang of it,” he said. His collection explores Catholic iconography through the lens of Seventies Pop Art, focusing in particular on the work of Andy Warhol and Corita Kent.

“Showing my work digitally isn’t something I necessarily would’ve considered before, but this project has really opened my eyes to all the possibilities of the medium. Not only would it be cheaper and less damaging to the environment, but it completely blows the doors open for all the potential possibilities,” Knight added.

He also believes designing purely digital clothes alone is a viable career path. “It sounds kind of ridiculous, but as a League of Legends player, I can personally attest to how much a person will spend just to make a character look a bit cooler than everyone else’s. Many other games also have features like this, where you pay real-world money for cosmetic changes to your character, so even those hypothetical, glowing, gravity-defying clothes could be sold as well,” he said.

Judy Tang, a fellow women’s wear design student whose final work is “all about connectivity,” said the experience provides her a sustainable, wasteless way to experiment with the design process.

“Using digital software has really opened my eyes to the potential of its widespread adoption leading the charge toward a more sustainable fashion industry. Carried forward into a post-pandemic world, this digital experience could lead to efforts to reduce the yearly load of physical fashion shows, instead of replacing them with virtual ones. This has the two-pronged benefit of not only decreasing burnout and increasing sustainability but also increasing public interest in fashion,” she added.

Judy Tang's graduate collection is all about connectivity with a minimalist touch.

Judy Tang’s graduate collection is all about connectivity with a minimalist touch.  Courtesy Photo

Adam Andrascik, senior lecturer at Ravensbourne, said it’s no longer enough to only teach the traditional skills of fashion in such a rapidly changing landscape.

“By incorporating new digital technologies into their design process, my colleagues and I at Ravensbourne are preparing our students for careers in industries that are just being born and giving them the confidence to lead them into the future,” he said.