David Stoneman-Merret, 22. Kingston University, Fashion BA (Hons) Graduate 2010.
– specialism: Menswear
Foundation completed at UCA Rochester in Kent. I won a design competition with Banana Republic in 2009 with another fellow student out of 56 students in our year to go and work for the company in New York over the summer for a paid internship where I helped design their 2010 a/w collection in the mens knitwear department.
Playing In The Snow
I looked at the elderly for inspiration through the way that they dress and style themselves. Looking at the condition Dementia that effects a large majority of the elederly for interesting ways of styling both day and nightwear together. This was personal too as my Nan who recently passed away suffered with Dementia so I had personally experience of what the condition is like and took inspiration from others in her nursing home in the later few months of her life. This also inspired my knitwear directly as there is an oversized jumper with a family favourite photo of her at Christmas in a Christmas hat knitted into the front. Again going round her home and the homes of others taking print and knit ideas from wallpapers and soft furnishings such as florals and pixellating them turning them into jacquards on jumpers and all in ones and enlarged printed vest tops.
Where do you get inspiration from in general?
I am inspired with what it around me, which is why I think that my final collection took on a personal route even though it just started with the basis of the elderly.
How is your process when you design?
I started by taking loads of photos of the elderly around New York while I was out there in the summer, toiling up aspects of their outfits that I liked. This was accompanied with vintage pieces of clothing that I felt were typical and should be main elements of my collection. From styling outfit ideas with simple shapes I started designing elements that I felted worked and working on others that were important. Alongside this working with images for textile inspiration, playing around with pixellating images and plotting knit patterns to be experimented with.
What do you find most difficult about the design process?
I don’t believe it to be difficult but the area that takes the most time is working out the knit patterns to make each garment, but its mathematically based which I like.
What are your strengths?
I think colour and keeing things simple but effective. Each of my looks I did in a single colour with tones throughout. This derived from finding that the elderly tend to dress in singular colours, matching these with accessories in different colours so this is how my colour palette arrived, with my accessories throughout my collection appearing in the ‘wrong’ outfit colour.
What are your weaknesses?
I don’t see it as a weakness anymore but used to think that designing simple garments once was but have learnt throughout this year that although simple there has been a great deal of thought put into each of my garements and looks for them to work individually and as a whole.
Describe your collection with three words?
Humorous, playful, colourful.
What techniques did you use:
I used a lot of jacquards, playing with tones of colour to bring them out. Mixing these with hand sewing sequins on top to bring out areas of the knit. These were plotted into Shima knitting machine. Along with enlarged ribs and basket stitch in my hand knitted coat, scarves and hats. I created tonal striped by transferring stitched between single and double bed so both the knit and pearl side of the knit is shown on the same side in stripes.
Which machines did you use to create your collection?
I used a domestic machine for my striped mohair coat. A 5 gauge machine for my purple cardigan. A 12 gauge Shima machine for all of my jacquards (jumpers, all in ones).
Which technique was the most difficult?
It wasn’t difficult to do but the jacquards took a long time to plot out by hand and then again into the computer as each pixellated square of each pattern had to be done individually.
Do you have a technical or conceptual approach to designing?
I think a bit of both. I would say I am quite technical minded, finding pattern cutting exciting and incredibly experimental, but yet can use this technical tool quite well to develop my conceptual designs into real garments. This is the same when I am designing my knit patterns, by coming up with a concept and thought behind what I want to achieve and then having to work out how it will be done and produced.
Which garment was most difficult to make?
The all in ones were probably the hardest to make, but only through the fitting stages, as knitting them didn’t take very long at all. It was just making sure that the fit around the entire body was correct and not sitting funny in places. This is because it was originally taken from a child’s vintage night suit, so everything had to be scaled up and then adapted to what I wanted to achieve.
Which garment took the longest to make?
To finish it would be the pink pixellated floral jumper. This is only due to the amount of hours it took to sew on all the sequins into the design. The basis of the jumper didn’t take long to knit or plot but was the hand sewing that made it take so long to do.
Which garment is your favorite?
I find that my black coat has become a good favourite, but obviously I love the blue knitted face jumper as this was the first to be finished and for personally means a lot.
What technique is your favorite?
I love how the enlarged rib and basket stitch works in the chunky hand knitted black coat, because although tonal and dark the textures speak for themselves and changed the drape and weight of the garment when worn.
How long did you work on this project?
I started on my research for the project obviously since July 2009 while in new York but design and making has been since January 2010, while also doing other projects at the same time.
Is there something you regret not doing in your collection?
I would have liked to have done more looks. I did do 8 looks but was only allowed to show 6 at GFW due to regulations, but I would have liked to have done more looks so could have had a broader range of knitwear designs and experiements.
What made you pursue knitwear?
I was going to do architecture or interior design but during my foundation I developed a love for fashion design so that’s how I ended up on the course. This is also where I found my love for print and designing print. As for knitwear I find it exciting being able to design your own canvas, being able to something totally unique through the technique, yarns and silhouette that you choose to put together. It is a completely way of thinking and designing which I love.
What designers inspire you?
Missoni knitwear is incredible and truly inspirational. Marc Jacobs and Burberry are also favourites for their style and look on fashion and deign, pushing menswear especially yearly into something fun and exciting.
Which designer would you like to work for in the future?
I would love to work for any of the those I have just mentioned as I feel they are really driven and strong in what they do and want to achieve.
Why did you choose Kingston University?
I chose Kingston as I wanted to in and around London and warmed to the tutors and atmosphere of the university. I don’t think that any other open day I went to put across such a positive attitude to the students they were teaching and actually looking out for their futures not just numbers on a league table.
What did you think of the education?
I have loved every minute of it. The opportunities that were given to us I don’t know of any other university offering them to their students.
During your education, which project has been your favorite?
My favorite project. I really enjoyed doing my final collection but thought that the self initiated project, where we had to contact a company of choice to ask them to write us a brief was probably the best in terms of getting out into the industry and being involved in our first personal project.
– What was the project about?
I did a project for Marc Jacobs, getting the New York based team to write me a brief for the project. I looked at British Heritage, using old research of fishermen and farmers from the countryside as inspiration for silhouette and yarn choices. Producing something eccentric with using a variety of typical yarns with more modern choices and the same with fabric choices.
– Which techniques did you use?
I kept it simple, mixing yarns together when knitting so a disrupted flow of colour was among the knit, using graduated ribs pulling in areas of the garment instead of their usual use at the hems of garments.
How were the school? Facilities? Teachers?
The atmosphere within our year especially was amazing. We all gelled incredibly working together and I now have friends for life definitely. The facilities were good, being able to work highly skilled pattern cutters and seam stresses that are actually working in the industry instead of being just hired by the university to come and teach. This is the same for our tutors. They are all industry based and have their own labels and work for designers which I think is highly beneficial as we aren’t being lulled into a false pretense of what is working and not and they give advice based on their experience from working in their specific field. For me though the knitwear team are amazing. Especially with the introduction of our Shima machine, which now allows for so much more experimentation for students and also tutors, opening areas for the university. Fiona Whitehead and Sam Elliot are incredible and are what keeps the knitwear of Kingston so high, but yet brilliantly enjoyable. Every university should have their own versions of them.
What advice would you give new students?
Go around Kingston University and hear what they have to say. The opportunities for competitions and dealings with companies and designers that are in the industry are amazing and unheard of in other parts of the country.
Which fellow students would you like to highlight?
For knitwear Lucy Hammond, and Sophie Hudspith. Beth Spurr for her contemporary designs using high tech textiles with reflective materials. Nicole Bradshaw for her amazing fur in her collection and approach to textile. Liam Stafford’s mohair dresses in his collection using Swarovski crystals. Anna Singleton’s simple shapes, print and approach to textiles. Therese Beanini’s print work in her collection. All worth looking up.
Why do you want to be a designer?
I love the sense of achievement you can receive from being a part of a process that you can see completely and be individual to yourself or a brand that has come from your own ideas.
What was your childhood dream job?
To go to stage school to sing, act and dance and hopefully become a performer.
Have you ever been nominated or won a design competition?
I have been a finalist for French Connection, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers and Pringle design projects, winning Banana Republic, coming 2nd in French Connection and top in menswear and also being a finalist for a project for M Studio a trend prediction company. I also was given a personal design project by Marc Jacobs this year for a self initiated project.
With one word, what is your best quality?
What have you been doing since graduating?
I haven’t graduated yet, I have shown my work at Graduate Fashion Week this Monday and have my last day at university today so will see what happens over the next few weeks and months.
What are your plans for the future?
I would quite like to see myself working for a high end label.
If you have just finished your BA, will you continue to MA?
Maybe in the future but not this year I feel I need to be out of education and in the industry for a while to decide on that.
Where can we find more information on you?