Donegal’s first ever fashion graduates are making history today after celebrating their graduation from LYIT.

Nine students completed the Bachelor of Arts in Fashion and Promotion this year and are now stepping into the exciting and dynamic world of fashion and textiles.

These students have already made remarkable achievements in the past three years. Many people with an interest in fashion will have caught their designs in shows across Donegal, in shop windows, exhibitions or on the national stage.

The innovative Fashion and Promotion course was launched in Donegal in 2015 and specially tailored to prepare students for employment or to become an independent designer.

Students in today’s graduating cohort are already making great strides into the fashion world.

Lecturer Sharon Maxwell with the LYIT Fashion with Promotion Class of 2018 graduates

The originality of some students’ work has propelled them to award successes, including Luke Barber, who launched his new collection at Fashion Fest last weekend and is setting up his own business from Buncrana. Luke was recently awarded Mc Elhinney’s Fashion Designer of the Year.

BA Fashion with Promotion student Luke Barber winning the McElhinney’s Fashion Design Award. June 2018. Photo Clive Wasson

Niamh Porter was awarded the Johnny Boyle award for Most Innovative Student at today’s ceremony. Niamh was an IBYE 2nd Place winner and is planning to travel to the USA for a design internship. Niamh’s work was featured in the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards twice.

Lauren Doyle has also been featured in the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards. She has been busy creating ‘made-to-measure’ occasionwear in Buncrana and has set her sights on making it in the US also as an intern.

Eimear Bradley is planning to set up her own business for occasionwear. She currently works as seamstress with Tokyo, Letterkenny and was shortlisted for Irish Fashion Innovation Awards 2017.

Niamh Porter, Lauren Doyle and Eimear Bradley with their Irish Fashion Innovation Awards shortlisted designs – March 2017

Valerie Taylor set up in the Fashion Hub, Derry and will soon launch her own collection of handbags with her woven fabric.

Fashioning the Future: LYIT Designers and their models at the LYIT Design Innovation Creativity Enterprise (DICE) event in the LYIT in March 2018. Photo Clive Wasson

Other graduates are following new career paths, while LYIT Fashion Lecturer Sharon Maxwell points out that all of this year’s graduates are well on their way to pursuing their dreams.

Speaking to DW at the LYIT graduations, Ms Maxwell said textiles is making a real comeback in the north-west.

She said: “Fashion and textiles is definitely back on the agenda in Donegal. We have such an amazing tradition of textiles and now we are taking it to a more contemporary level.

“Those traditional skills and the understanding of fashion and textiles is embedded in everything we are doing here.”

Lecturer Sharon Maxwell with LYIT finalists in Irish Fashion Innovation Awards

The LYIT BA Fashion with Promotion sets itself apart with the added business element. The course combines design with promotion training. As students allow their creativity to flourish, they also develop skills business, marketing, photography, costing and sourcing.

Ms Maxwell explains: “It’s about developing an idea and taking it forward into business. Our graduates also have great skills to work with other companies, who also need skills like marketing as well as pattern cutting and design.”

Today’s graduation marked another exciting step for Donegal’s newest generation of designers. Ms Maxwell was full of pride for her graduates’ achievements and is looking forward to leading many more students through the programme in the years to come.

She said: “The last three years have been a rollercoaster of emotions but today was the height of the emotion. I’m so proud of the students, I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved and I’m so proud of what they are going on to do.”