Stockport fashion designer John Earnshaw is turning heads with his catwalk creations

Young fashion designer John Earnshaw from Stockport is turning heads with his catwalk creations WORDS BY ELIZABETH SHORT

Fresh out of Manchester Metropolitan University, budding fashion designer John Earnshaw is taking the fashion world by storm. His graduate collection went down the catwalk at the prestigious Graduate Fashion Week and received rave reviews.

Appropriately named, ‘Northern Soul’ his latest project is greatly influenced by northern working class fashion in the 50s and 60s. He says: ‘I feel that the working class, especially in the north of England, have this pride about them, this pride that they have to look good, no matter what background they have. I like that.’

Giving a strong nod towards classic silhouettes and focusing on wardrobe staples, such as the trench coat, John, from Stockport, hopes to bring classic fashion to the forefront, while providing a grungy edge to his work.He says: ‘I am strongly influenced by sub-cultures, like the skinhead look, but at the same time, my grandmother, who dressed very properly, was my greatest inspiration for my collection’. He says that a strong, independent woman is the kind of person he hopes to cater for.

John proudly sources all his fabrics locally, in Manchester and Cheshire. He sees the area as a rich influence on his work, from the music and subcultures which emerged here, and the shifts in style that followed.Strongly motivated by street fashion, John takes in what people around him wear but, perhaps surprisingly, says: ‘The people I admire most in terms of style, are the older women, the pensioners in their tweed twin-suits, sitting at the bus stop.’

Comprising everything from de-constructed trench coats, and foiled high collar shirts, his collection has a This is England meets Mad Men feel to it.When it comes to tips for other young designers wishing to break onto the scene, John suggests experience is crucial. ‘Intern as much as you can. It gives you an insight into the professional world. Experience is everything, and you learn a lot of things about the pressures in the fashion industry.’ Last year, he worked for the up and coming designer, Michael Van Der Ham.

In his final year John was in the final three of a national fashion competition run by Debenhams, has been featured on The Guardian website, and has also had offers from people who want to sell his designs. And it is not just clothing that he is interested in.

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‘I designed some jewellery for the collection,’ he said. ‘I’m like a magpie, I like foiling and diamonds, done tastefully, of course.’Fellow student, Maria Hawkins from Great Sankey, Warrington, has also put her designs on show during Graduate Fashion Week.

Maria said: ‘I’d describe my design style as simple and feminine. I’ve combined bold, happy colours with beautiful fabric and flattering shapes to create a wearable, versatile collection.”

Maria, like John, hopes to follow in the footsteps of designers like Stella McCartney, who some years ago showcased her work on the same catwalk.

Alison Welsh, Programme Leader for Fashion at MMU, added: ‘John and Maria should be very proud of themselves.’