What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Birmingham?
Perhaps it’s the famous Selfridges building inspired by a Prada dress, the big dirty canal system, the old brass bull, or even the strong Brummie accent.
For me, Birmingham will always be associated with my childhood, my upbringing, and my family and friends.
But on a recent trip down south, a long walk around the city I used to call home brought new surprises in the way of unique street art.
These are just some of the headlines that have hit the news in the past few weeks, and in the wake of legendary Scottish fashion designer Jonathan Saunders resigning and closing his label, I wanted to open the discussion about this very real problem.
In the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival this summer, I went to a public talk celebrating the late great Louise Wilson, and Saunders was one of the panellists. His passion for good quality fashion education and for the creative industries across Britain was inspiring. It is not only his designs that were awe-inspiring, but his personality too. The industry is mourning the loss of his label, and mulling over the pile-up of other designers leaving their lucrative careers due to personal issues; Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, Alber Elbaz, just to name a few.
I recently watched Dior and I on Netflix and it truly shocked me how hard these couturiers have to work. The stress put on creative directors to create and curate flawless collections under the pressure of time, reputation and the press, is clearly becoming too much. I also attended a guest lecture by Kenny Wilson of Cath Kidston last week and he spoke extensively about the effects of a high-flying career on relationships. Is there really a need for such fast fashion, when personal lives pay the price?
And its not just the big names that are suffering too. On a more personal level, last month it suddenly hit me- I am not happy. Studying fashion at university is insightful, interesting and valuable, but the increasing pressure of personal issues and mental illness has made it impossible to enjoy, or achieve my full potential. Sometimes, we have to put ourselves first, and a year out back home seemed like my best option. Overall, I am a huge advocate of happiness, and as much as I adore the fashion industry and will continue to immerse myself in it, sometimes it limits our ability to be truly content.