We Are Human” is the title of your collection, what’s the meaning behind this?
“We are human” is an idea inspired by the homeless community. I feel passionate that every human is important, regardless of their circumstances. After researching personal stories from those who have experienced homelessness first-hand, it became clear homeless people can feel alienated. Physical and verbal abuse are a regular occurrence which understandably, has an impact on their self-esteem and identity. “We are human” aims to raise awareness of homelessness and remove the stigma that this community face. No-one should be treated differently for not having a home. Homeless people are valued humans too. These individuals don’t want to be treated like humans, they are human.
Your collection was created in collaboration with The Blankfaces; how did you conduct your research for this?
I initially became aware of the The Blankfaces brand through an online meeting during my University studies. This introduction allowed me to learn more about them and begin to understand what their aims were, as well as having a first look at their designs. To further my knowledge of The Blankfaces, I visited their website and learned about their objective to end homelessness. I examined their current collections and became aware that each garment came with its own story, an idea which I incorporated into my own designs. To ensure my work was consistent with previous collections, I looked at the types of graphics and prints used, as well as colour and fabric choices within their designs.
I looked at the types of graphics and prints used, as well as colour and fabric choices within their designs.
Line drawings are incorporated throughout your designs, is there a greater meaning behind their use?
Line drawings were central to my designs for several reasons. In my opinion the ‘We are Human’ message is a rallying call for inclusivity and the continuous line represents these designs being accessible to all. The impartiality of line drawings ensured the collection was gender neutral, in keeping with previous The Blankfaces collections. During my trend research for the season, I also discovered that minimal lines were an upcoming trend and therefore could combine the ethical message with a commercially viable garment.
Therefore could combine the ethical message with a commercially viable garment.
Has creating gender neutral, sustainable clothing always been of an interest to you?
Gender neutral, sustainable clothing has always been of interest to me. I am passionate about creating work that is inclusive but also produced in a sustainable way. I believe the distinction between masculine and feminine has been narrowing in recent years, and my designs reflect this movement. Gender neutral fashion is becoming more current and I feel this is because people are looking to express themselves without label. I feel it is crucial that every new designer should be actively trying to create work in a sustainable way. From initial design development to garment end of life, there are so many opportunities to make sustainable choices. I firmly believe that sustainable fashion is the future and the responsibility rests with everyone in the industry to do their part.
What have you learnt so far during your time studying at Heriot-Watt University and what can we expect to see from your graduate collection?
I have learnt a great deal so far during my time at Heriot-Watt University, and I relish the opportunity to expand my knowledge even further in the future. I have become very familiar with the design development process and have used this to improve the quality of my collections. It has allowed me to broaden my understanding of sustainability within fashion – an aspect which I am particularly keen to use in future. It has also given me a greater confidence in my designs and myself in general. For my graduate collection, I want to continue in creating designs that are accessible to all and raise awareness to issues we face in today’s society.
Discover Tiegan O'Neill's full collection
Words by Holly Cramman