GFW hopeful Charli Cohen brings sportswear into a whole new arena with her fashion-forward, performance focused designs. The Kingston Uni student’s already had a strong start, having sold customised T-shirts in New Zealand and a 28 piece collection in NZ and the UK. We get the inside track as she prepares for GFW.
I’m sure you’ve been working very hard to get your collection finished on time. What’s been your inspiration for the collection?
Yes - there’s certainly a lot of organisation and co-ordination involved!
The collection is inspired by female weights training and powerlifting. This is personal to me, having qualified as a personal trainer alongside my studies and specialising in this area. There’s an unfair stigma around females and weights training. The women are in fact cool, understated and extremely dedicated. And outside the gym you’d never guess – there’s something very ‘undercover’ about it.
The collection’s called ‘Power Dressing’ - the notion that fashion bestows power upon its wearer makes literal sense when applied to sportswear. I’ve used technical fabrics, high function silhouettes and explored the psychology behind how design inspires the wearer to train harder, faster and heavier.
What designers do you particularly admire?
I think Stella has done wonders with her line for Adidas – she’s one of the very few designers to fully explore how to combine performance-enhancing functionality with good design. I also very much admire Yohji’s work for Y-3. He can be relied on to bring a new and innovative twist to traditional sportswear silhouettes.
What is it about Graduate Fashion Week that made you want to take part?
It’s a chance to get a real taste of working in the fashion industry, from the planning and preparation, to the show itself and then the potential press and industry interest afterwards.
What advice would you give to young people who want to get onto a fashion design course?
To be fully aware of and prepared for the workload! And to be confident in your own aesthetic – whilst it’s important to be able to work to a brief, it’s even more important to keep a sense of ‘you’ in everything you’re designing.
If you could create an outfit for any notable person, who would it be and why?
I couldn’t think of anyone better to design for than our very own weight lifting medallist and prospective Team GB athlete, Zoe Smith. Zoe represents what this collection is all about – you’d never meet her and think ‘weight lifter’ outside the context of the gym or the stadium, yet she can comfortably lift twice her own bodyweight!
What do you think the future holds for fashion design?
I think textile innovation with play a major role along with sustainability. I used technical fabrics from Schoeller and eco-fabrics like bamboo jersey, which is temperature regulating, anti-bacterial and sweat-wicking. Future advances in technology will ensure style and function won’t need to be mutually exclusive.
Written by GFW Contributor Emily Hodgkin