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Steiff bears and childhood memories make for collectible fashion

Posted Friday 24 May 2013

Fashion student Sarah Goodwin has drawn on memories of childhood and top-of-the-range teddy bears as the inspiration for her final year collection.Memories of childhood and top-of-the-range teddy bears have inspired a striking new womenswear range just unveiled by a final-year Kingston University fashion student.

Captivated by her grandmother's Steiff teddy bears as a young girl, Sarah Goodwin from Worthing, West Sussex, has created six looks for her latest collection incorporating the soft pink and blue mohair usually reserved for the treasured toys.

German manufacturer Steiff, whose cuddly collectibles can sell for hundreds of pounds, sent Sarah several metres of material for her new work. She has incorporated the fabric into looks which include a baby blue oversized downy duffle coat with giant wooden toggles matched with a white collared dress. "I couldn't press or fuse the furry fabric, so I had to think really carefully about the shapes I wanted to create," Sarah explained. "I've used crinoline, for example, to help hold the duffle coat away from the body and give it that cuddly, two-sizes-too-big look."

Meanwhile, hand-drawn graph-like prints in bright pink feature on a trouser and top set layered over a sleeveless jumpsuit. "Everything is too big for you when you are small," the 22 year old said. "Children often end up picking out far too much to wear because they don't know any better - a T-shirt with a shirt and trousers and a skirt all at once. I wanted to use that naivety in my collection and layer up my looks in a playful but considered way."

Giant-pleated culottes continue the oversized theme. "I think everyone hated those heavy culottes we were forced to wear year-round at school," Sarah, who won a competition last year to travel to South Africa and work with retail giant Woolworths, said. "But, in a nostalgic way, I wanted to bring this aspect of my own school days to the collection - just like the doodles I used to make all over my maths books that I've transformed in to the prints."

The baby blue duffle coat is made from materials supplied by German toy manufacturer Steiff.Sarah's grandparents, John and Jean Goodwin, have been eagerly awaiting their first glimpse of her collection. "My grandmother is really excited to think that her collection of bears influenced my fashion designs," Sarah said. "She did dressmaking as a young woman and has been really keen to hear all about how I've put the collection together."

Alexander Schönfeld, strategic marketing and design manager at Steiff's headquarters in Giengen, Germany, said the company had been intrigued by Sarah's request to incorporate some of its mohair and alpaca plush materials in to her fashion designs. "Steiff has been involved in toy manufacturing for more than 130 years and built up a strong, internationally recognised brand," he said. "We're really looking forward to seeing how our iconic bears have influenced this fascinating foray into the world of fashion."

Senior fashion lecturer Andrew Ibi said Sarah showed a sensitive and subtle approach to design. "Sarah is an excellent designer, she sketches brilliantly and is never short of an idea. She has particularly good way with colour, print and texture," he added.

  • Sarah is one of 65 Kingston University fashion students currently putting the finishing touches to their final year collections. A selection of their work will be on show on the Graduate Fashion Week catwalk at London's Earls Court 2 on June 4. The Kingston University show will be held in Theatre A at 8pm.
  • Find out more about studying fashion at Kingston University.

Sarah Goodwin's collection was sponsored by Steiff - German manufacturer of collectible toys.

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