I don’t tend to watch reality TV or competition-based shows so when I found out that Netflix was hosting a series on Fashion, I was all ears.
As soon as I dove into Episode 1, I began to become familiar with the various characters that entered the competition. From start to finish, I found out more about the 18 hopeful designers.
With a background in streetwear, Brooklyn native Kiki has helped shaped businesses at the forefront of the scene, designing garments for the likes of Beyonce & Jay-Z. She’s tired of being behind the scenes and wants her work to be in the spotlight.
Known for his avant-garde streetwear, Ashton combines punk & goth styles to create fashion with an edge. He has worked with Post Malone and created tour pieces for Beyonce and Usher.
A friend and colleague of 10 years to Ashton, creates pieces that are larger than life, with some collections inspired by the queer community to which he belongs. He’s worked with the Black Eyed Peas and Ariana Grande.
Ever the perfectionist, Carli found fashion in an unorthodox manner deciding to try her hand at something new as a challenge. This career change turned out to be fruitful and she’s worked for various large brands including Alexander Wang.
Angelo is the Creative Director of his own brand Yezael. He describes it as “grand glam contemporary wear”. He sees himself as an ideas person with a knack for conceptualising looks at the drawing board.
Born in Zimbabwe, Zarai draws a lot of power and inspiration from her home country. Having been inspired by her aunt’s work as a designer, she decided to pursue this further and ended up working with Kiki, becoming good friends.
With no formal fashion training, Isaac created a luxury streetwear brand called Mercy x Mankind.
Narresh is the Creative Director of Shivan & Narresh, run with his family members. It is a luxury brand known for ornate prints and designs.
Minju Kim is a South Korean designer who has her own label aptly named – Minju Kim. She is heavily involved in creative processes, even making her own fabric pattern.
Hailing from Scotland, Hayley didn’t see many opportunities for fashion and decided to start a business of her own from home. After working hard at her craft, she was awarded Scottish Young Designer of the Year.
Julian comes from a military background, having served time in the Army abroad in South Korea. It was there that he found the opportunity to model, met his husband and found a real desire to further his interest in fashion design.
Straight after finishing college, Daniel started his own menswear label – Daniel W. Fletcher. With no experience he has slowly but surely managed to carve a name out for himself, seeing his brand enter stores.
Nashelli is a mum of 3 from Puerto Rico who has fought against all odds to pursue her love of fashion, and make a living from it.
As alumni of Central Saint Martins, Angel’s career in fashion reached new heights as she was named by Forbes as one of the “30 under 30” in Asia for her field.
Claire’s style was fostered when she found others as a teenager. Meeting other creative POC, she found belonging and fashion.
Growing up in a traditional family, he had to hide his desire to design clothes as a gay man. He would hide under his covers and create his costumes for events with his friends when he was younger. Now he’s followed his dreams and his family have accepted him.
Surrounded by fashion-savvy strong-minded women, it was inevitable Lorena would end up following in her family’s footsteps. She has created her own brand with the contemporary woman in mind.
From a young age, Charles fell in love with fashion making his first collection when he was 1. He used materials from his dad’s garage to create the collection. Having worked for others with little personal progress, he hopes the grand prize can help him start his own brand.
Hosts Tan France and Alexa Chung introduce the new series with a spunk only a duo like this could muster up. I didn’t expect this combination but with hindsight, I think it was a good choice. Everyone there will know but for us viewers, the competition is briefly explained. The winner of the competition gets $250,000 to fund their collection on Net-A-Porter and an opportunity to retail designs on Net-A-Porter’s site.
The very first challenge is to create a ‘Red Carpet’ look, working with one female model and from now on in teams of two.
Monique Lhuillier, an “influential tastemaker” helped judge this challenge.
One feature that I thought was quite interesting was the expansive fashion closet. Anything you’d need to create the perfect look from embellishments, textured fabrics to items like bleach. They provided a lot of resources that the contestants could work with, and I think it allowed the designers to explore their creativity and grow.
The teams for this challenge and from this point forward were as follows:
- Marco & Ashton
- Daniel & Carli
- Nashelli & Isaac
- Angelo & Charles
- Kiki & Farai
- Claire & Adolfo
- Narresh & Lorena
- Julian & Hayley
- Minju & Angel
During this challenge, you can tell who found working in a team difficult and who was able to bring their ideas together to create cohesive concepts. Nasheli & Isaac’s opposing views on the kind of fabric they should use were their downfall. The snakeskin material Isaac wanted for an edgier look didn’t result in the look they’d hope for. The garment was very restrictive, making the model feel uncomfortable and impeding her ability to walk properly. I believe sending them home was the right choice, although I do feel Nashelli never got the chance to truly show what she could do as an individual. Her progress would have been interesting to see.
Halfway Through ‘Next In Fashion’
At this point, there are six teams left, unexpectedly one extra from the last episode. The judges unable to decide on who should stay or go decided to reset the task and challenge the designers to create underwear. They were to dress a female plus-size model and a male model to show they could tailor to various body types. An interesting moment that led up to this decision was Farai’s defence of her team’s garment. In episode 4 she talked about representation and how big brands take from lesser-known creatives namely POC. Regardless of her team’s performance, I thought this was a valid point to introduce into the conversation. Fashion revolves around culture, people, humanity – and it’s emotional. For POC to be exploited, their lives, culture and stories appropriated without repercussion is completely unfair.
In episode 5, most of the designers struggled with creating functional yet aesthetic underwear. However, Marco’s experience with creating bondage-inspired lingerie helped his team create vibrant pieces and steal this episode’s win. Unfortunately, Kiki and Farai’s inability to create supportive, well-constructed underwear led to them leaving the competition.
Last Episode of ‘Next In Fashion’
Designers – Daniel and Minju, were an interesting pair for the final two as they have contrasting styles. This time around, they were to create a ten-piece collection in 3 days with the help of their own sewing teams. However, they were not allowed to consult their team on creative aspects of the garments. There also had to be a final garment that was the swan song of their collection: the ‘Show stopper‘.
Daniel based his collection on the ‘Bright Young Things’, a group of rich young adults in the 1920s who wore and did what they wanted. The essence of all things British was woven through all the pieces in his collection, with of course, the odd personal touch (you’ll get Pig Parties when you watch this). Despite his lack of experience with women’s garments, his showstopper piece was a quirky delight that I’m sure a member of the ‘Bright Young Things‘ would’ve worn. The silver deconstructed dress teamed with knee-high socks and brogues was amazingly well done. Daniel’s decision to change the material at the final stages was a wise choice as the shiny fabric combined with great construction gave the dress the wow! factor.
Minju decided to base her collection on feminist artist and icon – Frida Khalo. To pay homage to Khalo and what she stood for, Minju decided to create all womenswear. As soon as her team arrived, Minju’s thoughts of self-doubt were evident and even I didn’t know if she would be able to pull off the collection she wanted to create. The judge also seemed to notice her lack of conviction and self-confidence, and let her know she could win it. With a new head on her shoulders, Minju set to work on her ambitious collection. What stood out about her collection was the fact she explored her creativity, making her prints and taking risks. Her collection was cohesive, wearable yet something that could easily be seen on a runway. Her showstopper piece wowed judges and her style shone through. She created a wedding dress with a connected headpiece that transforms into a train. A very chic, contemporary take on the classic bridal piece.
The winner of the series was Minju and I believe rightfully so. Whilst Daniel’s ideas were incredibly interesting, the execution conceptually wasn’t as good as Minju‘s. I wanted more opulence and grandeur, and I think he was possibly holding back creatively. The essence of joy and freedom could be seen in Minju’s collection compared to Daniel’s.
Wow and Hmm Moments
- Marco’s injury during episode 3 was very unexpected adding tension to the already uneasy atmosphere.
- Lorena’s attitude in the “Patterns & Print” episode was questionable. I felt her reluctance to explore fabrics hindered her team’s work. As expected, her team ended up leaving.
- Farai’s defence of her team’s work in episode 4 was admirable and I appreciated her bringing up the culture appropriation in the Fashion industry.
- The idea of having to team up for challenges seems pointless to me. The disparity in skill and experience between designers meant they couldn’t show their full potential. For example, Angelo admitted although he is good at conceptualising he has very little technical skill.
- Minju & Angel’s cute introduction: I live for team “Dragon Princess”.
- The friendships *smiles*
- The friendships *frowns* … Having people teamed up with friends whilst others had strangers seemed unfair to me. Julian and Hayley were victims of this setup. They were strangers with contrasting styles who had to learn about each other over a short period of time.
- The closet. An amazing Narnia of fabrics, embellishments and occasionally bleach.
- The ideas. I loved Daniel’s take on sustainability for the denim challenge; taking scraps of other designers fabric was an intelligent idea.
Overall, Next In Fashion was an interesting show led by charismatic hosts. Improvements on the set up of the competition could be made, but I enjoyed the global talent that got to showcase on the runway.
Words By Louise Worthington
*Disclaimer – All images within this article are sourced from Google and Next In Fashion’s official Instagram account. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd. does not own copyright of images featured in this article. All rights reserved*