Patrick McDowell with the model Kobe Darko


By Alice Butterlin

At twenty-three, Patrick McDowell belongs to a new generation of designers who are placing an ecological consciousness at the center of fashion. In today’s world, no young designers would launch a clothing brand without thinking long and hard about their production methods, waste and environmental impact. The planet is now more than ever a central concern for students worldwide, as they seek to combine style with recycling. McDowell made a name for himself at Central Saint Martins, where his 2018 graduation show earned general applause from the fashion industry. Sponsored by several major luxury houses, his collection entitled “Climbing Family” draws inspiration from his father’s summit of Mont Blanc, which he contrasts with the glamour and exaggerated femininity of young women in Liverpool. Through his silhouettes, he brings a feminine touch to the hypermasculine and extreme world of mountain climbing: he adorns trekking poles with Swarovski crystals, creates windbreakers in satin and turns chalk bags into sophisticated accessories. Every detail of his first collection is informed by the trappings of outdoor sports – a note of sincere nostalgia that pays tribute to his family while deconstructing the clichés of masculinity. During his third-year internship at Burberry, Patrick McDowell realized that the company only uses around 30% of the fabrics it buys. He took that opportunity to contact the brand’s creative director Christopher Bailey, who let the designer reclaim the fabrics destined otherwise for the dustbin. Initially just a solution to solve his resource shortage, reusing old fabrics soon became a wellspring of inspiration for the young designer. After attracting a long list of sponsors, from Oakley to Swarovski, he put together a graduation collection composed entirely of upcycled materials. According to circular economy principles, any material – even if has already been used – can be reintegrated into the production cycle without diminishing the originality of the finished product. McDowell has shown a strong grasp of this principle, as he sets out to base his brand on these increasingly popular methods.

Photographer: Josie Hall

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