Bollo Makes Fashion

Since March 2020 young people from the Bollo Brook Youth Centre are invited to reflect on their relationship with clothing and fashion and engage in clothing creation themselves. Due to the successive lockdowns, the project quickly moved online on Bollo's Instagram and YouTube to provide a source of interaction, inspiration, learning and distraction whilst the Youth Centre remained closed.

To give young people a sense that artistic practice can emerge from their daily lives, perceptions, surroundings and heritage, six Instagram “challenges” invited them to reflect and share on various aspects of their lives through a picture of their choice (self-perception, what they cherished, what Bollo meant to them, how they relate to their heritage, etc). These challenges received a total of over 50 replies from over 18 young participants, all regular Bollo attendees. The outcome was presented as 6 collages and provided an opportunity for young people to hear and learn from each other as well as articulate their perspective in all its singularity, intelligence and sensibility.

Answers to these challenges then became the starting point for clothing design, using for the most part second-hand clothing from young people themselves. Due to restrictions/limitations on young people's direct involvement with clothing design and making, designs propositions were developed by the project leader and, together with the sketching & prototyping that had gone on behind the scene, were shared through social media calling on young people for feedback (or choice when options were offered). Whenever possible do-it-yourself step-by-step instruction was also created to give them all information needed to make their own.

Bollo's wardrobe is currently made of :

  • A kimono t-shirt to lounge at Bollo
  • A pimped football training bib for Bollo's football tournament
  • A black refuse bag jacket
  • A denim Macbeth Shield Jacket
  • Transparent trousers
  • An unravelling spooky t-shirt
  • An opulent outfit about eloquence
  • A pair of "ode-to-boxer shorts" trousers
  • An extra snuggly "hoodie-in-a-hoodie”

and more is to come!

The realisation of these designs provided young people with an opportunity to learn about the experimentation and making process. It also presented design as a space for introspection, experimentation, a tool they can use to develop their own voice, create their own space, to give form to what they think deserves to be seen, heard and thought, to live better.

In response to the continued limitation on young people's involvement in the direct making of the designs due to the context, smaller creative exercises "flash challenges" were added to give opportunities to participate in creative thinking more actively and do so with a sense of fun and spontaneity. "Your clothes got on a fight with each other! Depict the scene", "What if we considered clothing as a surface to record?", "Drawing your silhouette as in a shadow play, re-invent its outline.” such are some of the prompts put out to young people in these creative challenges.

The project will also leave behind a repository of online resources for young people in South Acton to be inspired or supported in clothing design, from introduction to stitching, pattern cutting, embroidery, or information relating to starting a fashion business.

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