Three Fashion Alumni make their mark on the high street
Individual brands created by Arts University Plymouth graduates Oliwia Nowotnik, Poppy Yeoman and Nina Westwood all now have their own retail spaces in Plymouth’s Go To Marketplace (GTMP).
With frequent opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration between different year groups and courses at Arts University Plymouth, Oliwia, Poppy and Nina’s combined venture is an excellent example of the ways that students and graduates come together to support each other and share skills.
We spoke to the graduates involved about starting their own labels and finding a home on the high street.
Oliwia Nowotnik, who graduated with First Class honours in 2022, set up the Wia Wear label while studying for her final year on our BA (Hons) Fashion Design course. Talented designer Oliwia was picked to showcase her collection at London’s Graduate Fashion Week 2022. During her time at Arts University Plymouth Oliwia also acted as a public speaker and ambassador for the IGNITE: Festival of Creativity, speaking at live events and appearing in interviews with the BBC.
WIA WEAR’s designs are inspired by Oliwia’s expressive and extreme art, illustrations and graphics. Using handmade and reworked garments, with bold graphics Oliwia credits creating her label with giving her purpose, which is reflected in the clothes that she makes.
“In current times especially after lockdown and isolation, we have all felt a little bit lost and confused. I know for sure that from my experience the challenges I faced created a massive strain on my creativity and my identity, however my love for art and fashion gave me a reason to carry on and never give up. The importance of fashion is represented throughout my work.”
Nina Westwood's work exhibited at the Summer Show
Alongside Wia Wear you will find Nina Westwood’s MINSKI, a slow fashion collective with a focus on creating sustainable and funky clothing using a variety of hand crafting techniques. Nina is a graduate of our UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Art, Design and Communication. She was inspired to create Minkski in 2019 while taking part in our annual Pre-Degree Design to Sell event, which is currently being planned by students for November 2022.
Since the inception of MINKSI the label has developed into a project advocating upcycling, slow-fashion and the importance of fun. Nina uses hand printing methods frequently to design fabric and rework old clothing. Taking inspiration from festival and bohemian style, as well as streetwear, she aims to create a sense of fun and playfulness in her work and encourages people to try clothing on and get experimental with their outfits.
Nina Westood said: “I want people to experience and enjoy the simple act of adorning oneself with clothing and accessories of all kinds. My initial inspiration for starting MINSKI came from a time in my teenage life when my friends and I would all get ready to go out together, playing loud music and taking lots of photos. I started to design my own clothing and accessories when I could no longer find what I wanted in high street clothing stores. I thrived off of the feeling of wearing items of clothing that I knew were one-off pieces and were completely unique. I now create fun, groovy clothing, reminiscing about those times and encouraging people to play with their style.”
Oliwia's Wia Wear collections backstage at Graduate Fashion Week
Poppy Yeoman, who also graduated with First Class honours from our BA (Hons) Fashion Design course, is the founder of The Original Fruitcakes. Promoting sustainable fashion, Poppy’s hand-picked funky vintage garments were previously sold in a space on Southside Street in Plymouth's historical Barbican.
“I am so proud to be a part of Drake Circus, offering a sustainable shopping option!” said Poppy. “What a brilliant first for Plymouth. I’m over the moon to be a part of it! When I was really thinking about getting serious with my shop, and it becoming more of a 'location' and space people would be in, I knew I wanted it to be welcoming to everybody. That's gender, sexual orientation, anything. I want my space to be somewhere where everybody feels comfortable.”
A garment designed by Poppy Yeoman for her end of year show
You can visit Wia Wear, MINKSI and The Original Fruitcakes at the GTMP store on Old Town Street, Plymouth, immediately outside of Drake Circus. If you’re thinking about preparing for a career in the creative industries, visit an Open Day to speak to our expert academics and current students on our popular BA (Hons) Fashion Design and BA (Hons) Fashion Communications courses, where students frequently collaborate with each other and take advantage of peers from other courses who specialise in textile design, filmmaking and commercial photography.