Future Archive is a diverse collective of young, freshly graduated designers who decided to take fate into their own hands and create a platform to showcase collections on their terms. Having no time to waste and nothing to lose, they’ve put their hearts and funds on the table and organized an independent showroom in London.
From 17 to 19 September anyone thirsty for anything freaky and fresh can pop in and experience some edge-cutting fashion. There are nine different collections by nine different designers with one goal. “We are independent. We are bold. We are here to be seen. We’re not here to be taken advantage of. We are here to be independent. We want to make a change. We want to bring fun and craziness. We want to bring our twist to fashion. We don’t want fashion to mould us. We are moulding it ourselves,” Tamara Djandash improvises Future Archive’s manifesto. Tamara’s the designer behind the ‘sale jacket’ that Bimini Bon-Boulash has been recently spotted wearing, slaying around BBC radio.
It’s not like university and industry have provided them with many other opportunities anyway, especially in the pandemic age. “There are so many different things that you need to consider. They don’t like to talk about that at uni. They should. They’re not preparing us to enter the industry,” says Arf Barkley whose final collection brings excitement back to fashion in a form of spring-based, bouncy garms. “I would call it a rebellion CSM spirit. If the authority doesn’t recognise you as you recognise yourself, you have to stand up and fight for yourself,” adds Oscar Ouyang, realising that in a world that’s falling apart community is the key to survival and success. That worldview linked directly to his collection inspired by Ghibli’s apocalyptic tale ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.’
Stories behind each collection are as diverse as the designers themselves. From Angelica Ellis’ modern warriors, ancestors to Windrush Generations and Black Lives Matter Movement, Isabella Smith’s stripped-back glamour that undertakes a dialogue between a ‘projection of the self’ and a ‘protective shell’, Thora Stefansdottir’s designs studying how emotions connect to memories to Gregory Ojakpe’s mesmerising sculptural pieces paying homage to surrealists.
Future Archive’s mission is to honour the past, learn from and use it to perfect the present. It’s a method that Lynn La Yaung applies to rejuvenate his Georgia O’Keeffe-like knits for the showroom: “There’s no point creating something new when you have something already in your archive that you can revisit”. “We built this platform so we can preserve our narratives going forward,” Angelica agrees.
While celebrating the past is important, relevant is what matters most. Some old habits and social constructs that’s been imprinted into the industry’s DNA have to be replaced. Celine Yu Hei Kwan is outspoken about that: “Being a woman and being Asian, it’s hard. Having this platform is very important. Especially with all the Asian hate going on. I want to be someone so the younger person could be like ‘oh if she can fit into this community, this showroom, I can do it too’.” Celine’s already an icon in the making. After all, Lizzo wore her custom design and her living room utopia collection got applauded by Vogue.
For anyone with as much passion as those young grads, the sky is the limit. If they reach it, they’ll go beyond. “You can do whatever the fuck you want to do. We have the power. Give yourself your own platform. There is power in the community,” sums up Gregory.
The collective fills the gap on the market by going against it. Forget everything you know about fashion and join the revolution. The industry is continuously called out for being elitist, exclusive and simply overwhelming. Future Archive represents the post-pandemic dream we’ve all shared in lockdown – to change the world by working together. “We are all a part of the future archives of the fashion industry in the literal sense. It’s about welcoming in a younger generation, seeing them as part of the entire fabric. We’re not separate,” says Isabella and Thora adds: “Future Archive is about building connections and hopefully, it can help all the graduates to start their own thing or get the name forward.”
They might be just starting but nothing is stopping them from making the showcase a yearly event. For the next generations’ sake. Today, they take a leap of faith. “Who knows what it will mean? What it will become? All you know is that we put love and effort into it. Whatever blossoms blossom. Sometimes people say that the most exciting thing is the actual journey,” Tamara sums up. If you want to be part of this journey and witness the birth of something special, pay a visit to their showroom.
Get tickets to the FUTURE ARCHIVE showroom online here.