The BA (Hons) Fashion and Textiles student was named one of the top 10 sustainable thinkers among UK graduates by WGSN, a leading fashion forecasting and trend service.
As part of her final year project, the 22-year-old created an outfit fit for the future with a scarf woven and knitted from recycled jersey material, a t-shirt made out of organic cotton jersey and trousers made out of organic jersey fleece.
And as she would like to continue to focus on sustainability and recycling, the first class student has decided to stay on at Wolverhampton to complete a Masters’ degree.
Gemma, from Kidderminster, originally chose Wolverhampton because it was local, friendly, and one of the few universities that offered fashion and textiles as a combined course.
She says: “The chance to explore both disciplines helped me develop my skills and find where my strengths lay. However even after specialising in my second year and deciding to focus my work on a fashion route, I still had support with any textile-based work I wanted to do, and was able to combine both disciplines in a balanced way for my final collection.”
Gemma faced challenges along the way, but received the right support to enable her to flourish: “Like all new university students I faced a few challenges with balancing studies, work, new friends etc. However during my first year I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, which is a curvature of this spine, which caused major discomfort at times and made travelling to university sometimes difficult. However with the help of my tutors and friends on the course I managed to keep on top of any university work I may have missed and made sure I never fell behind.”
During the second year of her course, the students looked at the environmental issues relating to the fashion industry and visited a textile recycling centre in Bilston. The visit had a major impact on Gemma and the direction of her creative work.
“Visiting the recycling centre, and seeing the sheer volume of clothes going to waste, really inspired me to look carefully at how we can produce new clothes from old garments,” she says.
Through her course, Gemma also had the opportunity to exhibit her work at New Designers in London, which showcases new talent entering the creative industries.
The Faculty of Arts student also took part in sewing workshops, teaching adults and children how to sew, pattern cut and recycle old clothing, and her future ambitions are to help and educate others though workshops and adult education.