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Current Lancaster University student and fashion’s latest protégé, Harith Wilson talks to SCAN about his love for clothing, designers, and what it’s really like to be a model at London Fashion Week.
So Harith, introduce yourself…
Hi guys! My name is Harith Wilson and I’m from London – South East London to be specific. I am currently studying a joint marketing and design degree here at Lancaster University.
I saw that you recently walked in London Fashion Week – that’s amazing! What started your interest in fashion? What made you want to pursue this sort of work?
Thank you! Yes, it was a very fun and surreal experience. It’s so crazy because if I’m honest, I only really started getting into fashion after high school. I went to an international school in Swaziland (South Africa), where you didn’t have to wear a uniform, so getting the opportunity to always dress yourself meant I always wanted to look good, but it was never really something I paid much attention to. What really caught my eye was when I saw Kanye West’s ‘Yeezy’ clothing line take off, and seeing other creatives like Luka Sabbat and A$AP Rocky have such an impact on the fashion scene because of their style and individuality. From there my interest really developed from seeing such a variation in street wear and the unique designs and fits of certain brands that were being released. Walking for Liam Hodges AW18 collection in London Fashion Week was my first time doing any sort of modelling, so it was a totally wild and unique experience. I do a lot of photography in my spare time, always taking pictures of the street style at LFW events, and relishing in the opportunity to be involved in a few shows with my cousin, who is also fashion designer. It seems that my interest has constantly been influenced by what I observed. In many ways I do think of myself as a creative, so taking part in something like LFW was definitely a bucket list must-have.
Does your degree at Lancaster link in any way to your interest in fashion, or is fashion something you have pursued in your personal time?
My degree is a totally different pursuit from my interest in fashion. I’ve always valued creativity, so it very much stimulates that aspect of me, but fashion specifically is something that I look into more during my own time. I would say I have two goals in life: my career objectives and creative endeavours, and whether they merge into one career or not would be an amazing prospect – but of course it’s definitely something I’m still thinking about.
So what label(s) did you model for in fashion week? Do you have any future plans to walk in other well-known fashion shows?
I modelled for Liam Hodges who is a British streetwear brand, using a unique DIY aesthetic to create its appeal. Each year Hodges’ designs and themes are evolving, and I would recommend it as a label to definitely check out! I’d followed the brand on Instagram and before we broke off for the holidays I saw them advertising an open call for their Autumn/Winter collection, and I just applied from there! This was ultimately my debut onto the fashion scene, but I would love to walk in other shows – who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.
What was your highlight of being at fashion week, and did you find anything difficult about being involved?
The highlight for me was actually the prep for the show – I was styled with a bright green wig that I didn’t know I was wearing until the day. On top of my hair they also placed green slime – it was all really great fun! I enjoyed the idea of almost changing into a character for the show. However, it definitely does become very busy and chaotic behind the scenes with photographers everywhere and getting prepared for the show, but I guess that’s just a part of the whole experience. It certainly was very nerve-wracking for me at the beginning, as I found the idea of walking a runway completely terrifying, especially since it was all very new to me. But in the end it all came together – sometimes you just have to take a chance. The music was also really cool; I just slipped into character!
How did you get into the fashion world? Is it really about who you know, more than what you know?
A lot of the time these brands have open calls and street cast people into their shows. Sometimes it’s just about finding an opportunity and taking a chance, especially in the age of social media when there is so much out there on offer.
Have you already represented some fashion brands before LFW?
Nope this was my first time – I’m a total newbie.
Today we see a lot of supermodels becoming besties e.g. Kendall and Gigi – would you say it is easy to make friends with the models you work with, or does the pressure and short-term nature of the project make it difficult to make good work friends?
Well, as far as I know it’s ultimately about who you connect with and has a good vibe. The models I walked with were generally very friendly and easy-going. What made it less nerve-wracking was the fact that I was with people who were going through the same experience as me. A lot of the models were street cast and not signed to an agency, so that put me at ease. The models were cool and I exchanged social media handles with some of them. From what I’ve noticed, a lot of these supermodels become friends through being in a lot of the same campaigns and shows together, but it’s all dependent on the person to be honest. There are definitely egos in the industry, so it’s all really about being true to yourself and not forcing friendships just to be seen – which does happen sometimes.
What are your favourite brands or designers? And who would be your dream designer to work with?
Wow, there are so many! My favourite brands include Gucci, Raf Simons, OFF-White, Burberry, Gosha, Palace, Liam Hodges, and A-COLD-WALL to name a few. Being a student it’s not like I have a collection of these in my wardrobe, but I do admire the designs and real craft behind the clothes. I find their styles really bold and beautiful in their own way. My dream designer to work with would definitely be Virgil Abloh, the founder of the brand OFF-White. Their collections blur the lines between high fashion and street wear. If not him, it would definitely be a tough choice between Raf Simons and Kanye West – these people are like my creative icons!
Who would you say is your biggest style inspiration right now?
My biggest style inspiration at the moment would have to be A$AP Rocky. Some people may only know him as a rapper, but that guy wears clothes like art! He has his own style and is confident with it, and I like how he changes it up from a polished high fashion look to a more street and expressive style.
What would you say to other young people who want to get involved
in the fashion world from your own experiences?
Well this is all very new to me so I’m not a total expert, but honestly, my advice woul
d be to constantly be on the look-out for opportunities. Follow brands on Instagram, especially emerging labels who are always on the look out to experiment with new faces. Social media platforms open up a lot more doors for us than we think, so it’s all about using it to your advantage.
To see more of Harith and keep updated with his activities in the fashion world, find him on Instagram @forrest.blak