menswear by max jennings

Graduates 2021: Max Jennings: Fashion Design with Business Studies

“Looking back on my first year I can see such growth in my skills and my ideas, that really demonstrate the care and attention that has been put into my growth. When I first came to Brighton, my sewing skills were rocky, and I am leaving with a graduate collection that I am immensely proud of.”

Hi Max – can you tell us a bit about your work and your influences?

“My graduate collection, Arcadia, is a semi-autobiographical luxury menswear collection rooted in my upbringing in the English countryside. The motivation behind this collection is to determine a balance between fragile elegance and masculine virility. To find in beautiful details, colour palettes or ways of wearing clothes an imbued notion of softness and fragility, yet to remain firmly grounded in menswear.

“Tropes of traditional English public school and countryside clothing such as tailoring, cable knit, and cricket jumpers will be reinterpreted to form new notions of English masculinity. The collections muse would be akin to characters such as Sebastian Flyte, the protagonist of Brideshead Revisited, and Rupert Everett’s portrayal of queer defiance and fragility in the face of British tradition in Another Country. As well as this, the spirit of Cecil Beaton and his delicate male portraits, and the languor of Deborah Turbeville’s photographs permeate the collection. Ensuring a departure from the traditional ‘buttoned up’ idea of English men, remaining couth but with an instilled sense of self-determination.

“I wanted to create a collection that had commercial appeal and covered key product areas within menswear: outerwear, both tailored and more technical, trousers, shirting, and knitwear. As well as this I have designed a range of accompanying accessories, including bags, small leather goods and scarves. I wanted all these pieces to be able to work together in any combination and not solely in the styled looks, and to feel authentic to the modern man I design for.”

How have you found your course and time at Brighton?

“I have immensely enjoyed my time at Brighton. Looking back on my time in first year I can see such growth in my skills and my ideas, that really demonstrate the care and attention that has been put into my growth. When I first came to Brighton, my sewing skills were rocky, and I am leaving with a five look graduate collection that I am immensely proud of. As well as this I am incredibly grateful for the skills, I have gained across communicating my work, from the technical drawing skills to the fashion illustration skills.

“As well as the course itself, I have greatly enjoyed being in Brighton. It is such a great place that always has so much happening, be that restaurant, nightlife or just the beach and parks. This year, whilst there has been a lot closed, I have also found a new appreciation for how much there is to do, even whilst everything is closed, going on many walks or socially distanced takeaway coffee outings.”

How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Fashion Design?

“I came to this course via an art foundation at Falmouth University. Through this route I was able to try a range of different creative disciplines, and I always found myself coming back to fashion, as this is where I felt I excelled. I think this was incredibly beneficial as it meant that I knew exactly what I wanted to be doing, I know that if I had decided on a degree in my final year of school, I would have ended up doing a fine art degree, which would have been an unmitigated disaster for me.

“I chose to come to Brighton because I knew I wanted to be outside of London, as this is likely where I would be headed after graduation, but still desired the proximity Brighton offered. As well as this I knew I wanted to do a placement year, as I felt this year in industry was an important for both employability and increasing my skillset. Finally, the small course size ensured me that I would be part of a community and be given the tutor and technician time and attention that has proven so formative for me in my time at Brighton.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I feel that after this year having designed and manufactured my collection fully within the Covid-19 pandemic it is important for myself to take somewhat of a breather and to reflect on my next moves. Initially, I plan to stay in Brighton, and to enjoy my final summer here, whilst refining my portfolio further and working on some exciting freelance projects. During this time, I will also be applying for jobs, looking to find a job or graduate internship in menswear, whether that be in London or abroad. However, this could all change, as we have seen with this year, plans can change very quickly.”

Find out about studying Fashion Design with Business Studies BA(Hons) at Brighton.

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