Our LCFMA18 MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear catwalk show is on Friday 5 January, and our Graduate Spotlight series continues with MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear grad XUBO from China. Bo’s collection will appear at the show and here, we discussed the final collection, inspirations and London life.  Tune into the MA18 Menswear live stream at 10.30am on 5 January. 

Tell us about your final collection…

My collection explores the concept of humans who dress as animals. It examines both the traditional culture of humans dressing in animal costume for religious purposes, to the modern subculture of “Furry Fandom” – a contemporary community who identify themselves as animals. I focused on the interaction between human and nonhuman species, and contextualised the phenomenon of people dressing and acting as animals in the past and present. I focused on one particular group called “Furries”, who are interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. I developed the possibilities offered through traditional handmade techniques, such as crochet, weaving and hand knitting.

Talk us through any specific techniques you used…

The collection contains a variety of handcrafts, like hand-weaving technique, crochet, hand-knitting, and fringe-making techniques. Most items are handmade by artisans, so all the pieces are unique and slightly vary in tone, size and finish. Weaving was a fundamental part of this project. I located a hand-weaving artisan who is a specialist in hand-woven bamboo mats – a skill that is part of her village’s traditional heritage. As for hand-knitting and crochet, my family helped me to produce samples and final garments. Without the help of the craftspeople and artisans, my collection wouldn’t include such a large amount of handcrafted textiles.

In the early stages of the collection, testing fringe samples was the focal point. Over time, I produced several fringe samples, and the fringe-making technique was also developed throughout the experiment. The final improved fringe-making technique was used for manufacturing fur coats, and it saved a considerable amount of production time.

What influenced your final collection?

My concept for this collection is human as animal, and “Furry Fandom” is my research subject. For my primary research, I did a field observation on local social group “LondonFurs” in order to investigate the contemporary subculture of “Furry Fandom” to gain knowledge. “LondonFurs” social group will hold a fursuit walk during the meetings, fursuit usually is a head-to-toe costume for them to express their animal identities. And it significantly influenced my design, from furry textiles to over-sized silhouettes.

Describe your work in 3 words…

Wild, textiles and handcrafts.

What would be your top tips to new students…

It’s a fast-paced course, it will be stressful at some points, so please prepare yourself for this challenge. The most important thing is being prepared for your tutorials, this is your one on one time with your tutor so please don’t waste this valuable time, always have everything ready and offer some new developments. Time flys, so work hard, enjoy the learning process and have fun!

What made you chose LCF and London…

London is such a diversity city, full of art galleries, museums, shopping departments, and it’s a really great to live in. The reason I chose LCF is because the MA Menswear reputation speaks for itself – it is one of the best menswear courses in the world. And the biggest reason that I chose this course is the teaching quality, I knew I would learn more things here and I did.

What were the highlights and biggest challenges of your course…

One of the highlights is the Collaborative Unit. Collaboration definitely enhanced my project, and working with all sorts of people taught me how to communicate as a designer with other partners, in a professional way. The experience of working with people from different backgrounds and with different skills helped me to understand a new field, and gain knowledge that I didn’t have before. I have benefited from this learning experience in this MA course; not just from the more thorough research and the creative approach, but also from being taught how to be a designer, through lots of professional practice.

Have you been on a work placement or internship…

I have some project experiences working as intern at Chinese Fashion Trend of Leather during my BA study.

My biggest inspirations and muses are…

I don’t think I have biggest inspirations or muses, you can’t rely on those things. The things you can depend on is your own aesthetic that you build over the time, and your design methods and work habits.

What are your plans for life after your MA…

At this moment, I need work experience to expand my knowledge, so my plan is to look for a design job and gain more experience and knowledge about the fashion industry.