The latest collection by Stina Smith – the label created by 2016 Fashion Design graduate Christine Egeland – was featured in last month's London Fashion Week. We spoke to Christine about her achievements as a designer, and the impact her recent studies at Regent’s have had on her career.
Why Stina Smith?
When building a fashion brand, the name is incredibly important, as it should aesthetically reflect the brand and the designer’s design philosophy. As my full name is Christine Smith Egeland, deciding upon Stina Smith was a choice of creating a more international and memorable name, while at the same time crafting a distinction between Christine ‘the person’ and Stina ‘the designer’. As a fashion designer, I put my mind, thoughts and ideas on display, which easily reveal the perpetually tortured artist within me. However, though I played with the notion of using my full name, I am the brand – the brand is not all that I am.
You only graduated this year, but you have already achieved a great deal. How did you manage that transition?
When you are studying for a degree, and especially a course like Fashion Design, it is easy to get caught in a protective bubble, as you spend years surrounded by familiar faces and tutors who want nothing more than to see you succeed. I spent the final year of my degree breaking out of that bubble, learning to trust my creativity and instinct, while becoming an independent designer.
Becoming a fashion designer involves much more than just designing garments, so in order to build my brand and get known, I spent a lot of time throughout this last year organising photoshoots of my designs, which helped me gain insight into the industry, and helped me network and build my portfolio.
By the time I graduated, I had been published in three different magazines and had travelled all over the UK shooting with talented photographers and models. This led to bigger opportunities, including showing my collection at charity events, taking part in photoshoots with esteemed New York photographers (such as Katie Levine), having some of my designs used in a new music video by artist Kyan Kuatois, and being sponsored by Fashion's Finest to have my collection on the catwalk during London Fashion Week September 2016.
However, though I am primarily focusing on promoting my name and brand at this stage of my career - as well as working on a new collection - I am also looking to find a job with a brand that shares my design aesthetics.
What inspires you?
Designing is about my genuine and visceral love of creating something new, spending time creating and enjoying it and making fashion that one feels attached to. It is upsetting to think about the challenges of ‘fast fashion’: how it destroys creativity, as well as the now old-fashioned notion of owning garments that would last for years – items that you would love and care for. We have become so accustomed to inexpensive products and new collections being released every few weeks, that it’s hard to understand and appreciate the true value of what we buy in the shops. Nevertheless, I believe fashion will become more and more conceptual in the years to come, and will produce new designers who embrace past craftsmanship.
How did your studies at Regent's impact on your career?
Regent’s is very design and technically driven, and I learnt the essential skills for fashion design: patternmaking, sewing, draping, designing and fashion illustration. However, what made me become an interesting and innovative designer was the focus on conceptual design, creating original and avant-garde fashion. Conceptual design requires a more complex level of research and reasoning, which taught me to approach fashion in a much more interesting way.
Throughout my degree, Regent’s motivated me to explore all aspects of designing, allowing me to basically do whatever I wanted to do without being overruled by my tutors, yet there was an emphasis on being able to explain the meaning behind your work. While many people design and dress to make a statement of personality, the fundamental force of my design philosophy is an ongoing interest in our current society and the chaos of the human psyche. I believe my time at Regent’s blurred the lines between my personal life and my work, and my designs are a visual representation of this.
What are your goals for the future?
Having showcased my latest collection at London Fashion Week, I have accomplished something that I have dreamed of - and worked incredibly hard for - for years. Ideally, my future aspirations are to have established my brand, Stina Smith, within the next five years, but, until then, I wish to gain experience from different fashion houses while I travel and collaborate with creatives around the globe. I find it magical when artists from different creative sectors come together to craft something unique and to realise a common vision. I already have an idea for a next collection, so I will concentrate on some conceptual projects - which will be something between art and fashion, something that pushes the boundaries and challenges the ideals of the traditional fashion establishment. It will be quality over quantity; people should not be discarding my clothes after a couple of seasons.
Find out more about Christine and Stina Smith: