Rob: Today I have Amy Brogden, Head Stylist for Leeds RAG Fashion Show 2018 with me for a little chat about all things RAG and Fashion! So to start, can you tell us a little about yourself and the RAG Fashion Show generally?
Amy: Hi! I’m Amy Brogden and I’m a final year fashion student at the University of Leeds, and I got involved with RAG fashion show this year for the first time! The charities we’re fundraising for this year are Pancreatic Cancer Research and Behind Closed Doors – so a national and a local charity – they both do really great work in their respective fields. I’m a big ol’ feminist you see so especially with the local one - Behind Closed Doors – I want to make sure we do the best we can in order to help them. Also, Pancreatic Cancer Research is so important - there’s not enough going into it at the moment and it’s ridiculous how little funding they get, so the charities this year are really important to me and that’s why I chose to get involved.
R: Both are great charities. With that in mind, what inspired you to go for the role of head stylist?
A: Well I wanted to be involved in LRFS the whole time I’ve been at uni. Obviously doing fashion I’m really interested in all that stuff and it’s always such an amazing show. To be honest this is the first year that I felt qualified – on my year in industry I did some stuff for Charlie Casely Hayford, and that was the first time I was like ‘yeah, I can probably do this!’. It was just a lack of self-confidence that had stopped me from doing it before.
R: Have you watched the show in previous years as an audience member?
A: I’ve never actually made it to one of the shows, but it’s always all over campus and once you’ve seen all the advertising and the videos from the event on social media you feel like you’ve been to the show anyway! It’s basically its own business, there are departments for everything and it’s such an amazing committee to be a part of – I feel like until you’re 40 you’ll never really be doing these kinds of roles again, until you’re well established at least.
R: So, in terms of the committee there’s – how many people – 40 I’ve heard?
A: Yeah about 40!
R: In terms of working together with them, do you feel like you’ve become quite a close-knit group of 40, have you worked with every member of the group?
A: Yeah, so every week at committee meeting, everyone is there, and we all go around the departments and say what we’ve been doing during the week, and we’re all sort of collaborating on different things. Like if sponsorship needs something and we’re like ‘oh we can do that’ it’s very collaborative. And doing the socials like the launch party and the pub quiz everyone’s having a good time and bonding together.
R: That’s really nice to hear! So, to the launch party last night - were you able to attend?
A: Unfortunately, not (laughs) but I feel like I really missed out – we had our styling meeting this morning and everyone was saying how much fun it was hanging out and having a good time – apparently people did actually get some doughnuts – I’ve never been to donuts and actually got a doughnut! So that was remarkable, I was like ‘ah I missed the doughnuts too!!’
R: It’s all about turning up early, and the launch party is perfect for that because you’re there at 11 already liking that Instagram page and grabbing that donut!
A: And they’re still fresh!!
R: Exactly! The whole vibe around the fundraisers has been so professional so far, how have you found being a part of all that jazz?
A: Yeah, it’s so glamourous and sophisticated, it’s not just a regular social. I went to the pub quiz and the RAG committee is like a different level of style, everyone was dressed up and looking so glam and fashionable and I turned up in a workman’s jacket like ‘hi guys’ just thinking it would be a regular pub quiz, but it so wasn’t! (laughs) And I thought “I’m the head stylist, I’m the one who’s meant to be looking the best here!”
R: Everyone always says that; any designers will tell you going through design school you always know who’s the stylist and who’s the marketing team, because the stylists will turn up in pyjamas and the marketing team will turn up in Gucci!
A: Yeah and that’s LRFS! (Laughs)
R: So, take me through a day in the life of a stylist currently!
A: So, a day in the life of a stylist would start with scrolling through Instagram (laughs) trying to find local designers, so students, graduate students, or fashion designers who can be featured in the show. They need the most exposure, so we’re supporting young designers and we’ve had most success with finding them on Instagram so far. And then we contact them saying ‘hi would you be interested in being in the show?’. For our promo video we had the shoot recently, so we did fittings for that, obviously we did the model castings, so we had to get the models for that – it’s all over the place, very professional and organised, but it’s very all over the place in what you’re doing!
R: So, you say you’re sourcing a lot of local talent, is that the aim every year?
A: I think generally it’s trying to find graduates, whether they’re local or not – usually British designers – and obviously for us Leeds is the best place to source designers from because it’s all about community with RAG, so using Leeds-based designers and new talent in the area is the main aim.
R: Do you know of anyone in the past who has used this as a springboard into the industry? Do designers get a lot of exposure from the show?
A: I mean on committee people have been scouted for jobs! Directors will get scouted by corporations, I think someone last year got a job out of it. But obviously designers get exposure from the Instagram that we have, and local and national newspapers come to the event so if a picture of your garment is used in that, that’s big news! You just have to hope you’re one of the ones who gets photographed! (laughs)
R: It feels like such a big event – do you guys cultivate the event to feel high profile but also inclusive?
A: Yeah! One of the main things especially at the model castings is diversity and inclusivity – it’s so important. I don’t understand how you can just not be inclusive when it comes to this kind of thing, the fashion industry is so behind on inclusivity and diversity and that’s ridiculous. I think we can break the mold and get new faces and interesting faces and different faces involved.
R: Spring-boarding off that, is there anything you guys want to improve on this year from last year’s show?
A: I think we are quite well rounded already – I would like to get more independent menswear designers in because I feel like menswear is harder to get exposure for. Obviously with womenswear it’s quite easy to create an iconic piece because you can put a woman in anything and people aren’t going to bat an eyelid. That’s how womenswear works, it’s all about following trends - they’ll all be wearing one thing one week and another the next week. I don’t think menswear is that fast. I think it’s more that you get your style and that’s how you dress for a while. So I feel like it’s not as pizzazz-y, obviously there’s a lot of interesting things happening but there’s no going and putting them in something crazy and knowing that regardless of how it looks it’ll be received well. So, I’d like to get more exposure for menswear that we use because I think it’s harder for them to gain that exposure on their own.
R: And menswear is one of those things where it’s on the precipice of reinvention – people like Virgil Abloh are bringing a lot of new things to the table, so getting that new generation of designers out there is crucial.
A: Yeah and I’ve seen so many interesting things, but I just don’t think it’s as easy to be found as a young designer.
R: So have you booked many of the designers in yet?
A: If anyone has popped up on our Instagram we’ve been contacting them…
R: …Sliding into their dm’s?
A: Yeah sliding in there like ‘hey’!
R: And can you drop any names of people you’ve got so far - or is that a secret?
A: I don’t know about that! It’s a secret for now.
R: Any hints about any upcoming features you want to share?
A: I think we’ve got some really interesting designers who are doing clothes that you may not think are clothes when you first see them. That’s all I’m going to say.
R: That sounds exciting.
A: We’ve got a couple of those but we’re in the process of contacting them for the show now - we’ve done the promo video a couple of weeks ago so now we’re getting people for the real thing!
R: And what are you the most excited about over the coming months leading up to the show, what’s the one moment you look forward to the most?
A: I think the theme reveal on the 11th [of December] is going to be really interesting because the marketing guys want to do some cool stuff around campus and things like that – they’re going to be interesting. So, I think that’ll be a lot of fun, and everyone always wants to know what the theme is going to be.
R: And where can we find tickets for all the upcoming events?
A: Fixr. That’s where all of our tickets are sold – otherwise there are plenty of posts about it on all of our social media, so follow those for any updates!
So there you have it, all you need to know from Leeds’ own fashion guru! Keep yourself up to date on all the upcoming events by following the LFRS social media pages on Instagram and Facebook, and here with Lippy for more exclusive content!