With an enthusiasm for creative design and sustainability, Jodie Hughes overcomes any issues the pandemic brought along with her innovative gender-fluid collection ‘The Time Is Now”. The Scottish designer seeks to interweave awareness with style as her streetwear range reflects the stories of homeless people as she reworks upcycled cotton and scrubs into statement pieces. Her efforts were not in vain, as the sustainable designer is one of the fifteen Global Young Talents featured in the June issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
Throughout your design process are there any key factors that you consider?
I find it easier as a designer to have a brief set-in place, so I know what I’m designing for. It’s pretty much a case of combining everything to create some initial ideas that I then go on to develop into a final collection. I always consider who my target market is, the season, colour, fabric and also incorporating my own style. I find it really important to research deeply into the factors as it sets you up for designing. Once I have completed my research, it’s pretty much straight forward after that. The whole process is really collaborative, and I love being in the workshop as you are able to bounce ideas off other people and help each other out. I’m always changing the approach to my design process the more I learn and the more experience I gain.
You tend to use sustainable and recycled materials throughout your designs, has sustainability always meant a lot to you as a designer?
Before studying at Heriot-Watt, I didn’t think about fast fashion or the cons of the fashion industry. Only now studying Fashion Technology, I have been taught and researched into the fashion industry and how it is polluting the world. I found out that not a lot of people actually know what happens to a garment at the end-of-its-life or the impact the waste from fashion does to the environment, which is mind blowing. So now as a designer, I try and make sustainable choices in my work to try and bring awareness about the industry. Picking sustainable fabrics and thinking about my garments before making them, is my way of trying to help this growing issue and I’ve become very passionate about it.
Your recent collection, “The Time Is Now”, was designed for “The Blankfaces”, where did your inspiration stem from and what is the meaning behind your collection name?
My inspiration firstly came from the work that The Blankfaces do themselves. They are the first UK fashion brand aimed at ending homelessness and every design is created or inspired by someone who is homeless or was homeless. They give 100% of profits back to the homeless community which I find so motivating. I started to look into homelessness very intensely and found out lots of things I didn’t know. One thing I found interesting is how newspapers portray homelessness and homeless people so that’s how I came up with my collection name. It was a play on the name of “The Times” newspaper and it basically means that the time is now to end homelessness as it is an ignored issue in today’s society.
“ So now as a designer, I try and make sustainable choices in my work to try and bring awareness about the industry. Picking sustainable fabrics and thinking about my garments before making them, is my way of trying to help this growing issue and I’ve become very passionate about it. ”
What research did you carry out before designing your recent collection and how did you go about it?
While researching for this collection, there was a mix of primary and secondary research carried out starting with homelessness and its impact on today’s society. I felt like I had to try and understand what it is like to be homeless and understand what they go through every day to try and tell a story through my collection. I then went on to looking into the Blankfaces and what they do as a brand, who their customer is and what their style is. I got the opportunity to go on the Invisible Cities Tour in Edinburgh. Sonny , who was our tour guide, told us his story about being homeless and then how he changed his life for the better. Sadly, due to covid-19, the majority of my research was all online based. This was disappointing as I never got the chance to go and speak to homeless people and hear their stories but I’m glad I heard Sonny’s story as this made me determined to bring awareness through my work.
In the draw up of your final collection you blanked out the faces of the drawings, why was this?
I decided to blank out the faces in my collection as this is how homeless people feel. After speaking to Sonny during the Invisible Cities Tour, he told me while he was homeless and, on the street, people would just walk past him as if he wasn’t there and he just wanted to be treated as equals, so this design decision was just to portray this.
“ I felt like I had to try and understand what it is like to be homeless and understand what they go through every day to try and tell a story through my collection.”
Discover Jodie Hughes's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens