Today’s Industry Interview is with Mark Atkinson, the creative mind behind Modeconnect. If you have yet to visit Modeconnect, you’re seriously missing out. The site offers a worldwide platform on which fashion students, educators, and young designers can show their work and share valuable information and inspiration with their peers. Each month they highlight a different city, and they launched in May with San Francisco! Several of our students’ work was featured, from Massa Ito and Zhangchi Wang’samazing senior collections, to Katarina Farley’s fashion journalism skills, and the School of Fashion’s180 magazine. Mark has years of experience in the fashion industry, and has met some amazingly talented people along the way – many of whom he highlights on the site. He was kind enough to talk with Fashion School Daily about Modeconnect, elaborating on his inspiration and goals, and offering advice to students!
Mark, can you tell us about your fashion experience? I trained at Central’s Saint Martin in London, the year after John Galliano. London was incredibly fresh at that time. There was a sense of chaos, rebellion and pure creativity. London is still very exciting but like New York City, it is today very polished. After my studies I worked as a designer for a number of labels and experienced the ups and downs of the industry. I left my job at Katharine Hamnett, one of the driving forces of fashion in the late 80’s, to launch my own label. I lived in Paris, came back to London. I taught fashion for eight years.
What inspired Modeconnect? Laurence King Publishing commissioned me to write a book for fashion students entitled How to create your Final Collection. It will be available for purchase this August. My plan was to illustrate it with students’ work. I wanted to show different approaches, so I contacted schools all over the world. It involved a ridiculous amount of work but I got to meet exceptional students and their exceptional teachers. It was fascinating. Modeconnect is born from this experience.
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What are your goals for the site? The work I did for my book How to create your Final Collection highlighted three things.
The days when fashion was created in a handful of cities around the world are long gone. Today fashion emerges everywhere. You cannot understand it if you only look in one place. Modeconnect intends to investigate every major fashion centre around the world.
The fashion industry evolves and changes very quickly. It is hard to comprehend how everything works and keep abreast of it even when you are doing the job. In contrast, academia allows students to explore their identity, it offers a stable environment ideal for self-discovery. Modeconnect would like to provide a bridge between these two worlds, academia and industry.
Fashion retail generates an incredible amount of noise on the web. Include the word ‘fashion’ in your Google search and you will probably not find what you are looking for. Modeconnect’s ambition is to show works and collaborations that cannot be ignored.
Most of all I would like Modeconnect to become a community of fashion creatives, sharing, exchanging and collaborating with the aim of contributing to the fashion of tomorrow.
What role can students play in Modeconnect? I can only wish that students will find something of value in Modeconnect. If they do I hope they will engage with us. As I explained, Modeconnect is a place to exchange and share, to connect locally or across the world, to start new projects and new collaborations.
You’ll be highlighting a different city each month – why did you decide to start with San Francisco? I have been lucky enough to visit SF several times and I love the city for its beauty, culture and individuality. While doing research I discovered the work of Ashon Sylvester which impressed me. I wanted to find out more about the Academy of Art University, and here I am.
If you could only give students one piece of advice, what would it be? Fashion is in constant flux, it is a permanent reinvention. The only way to succeed as a fashion designer is to always look for something new. Look at your surrounding with fresh eyes, travel, seek new experiences and never put your pen down.