An inspiration drawn from street gangs, boxing and personal struggles
Refusing to leave creative art off the catwalk, fashion design graduate Dale Nathan Ridley utilises the boldest colours and prints in his final collection, drawing on influences ranging from street art to boxing. A graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University, Ridley says of his collection ‘love it or hate it, either way you can’t stop looking at it’. Make sure to check Dale Nathan Ridley’s portfolio.
Dale, what is the background of the work you submitted?
The work I have submitted comes from my final collection, which has been my most personal work to date. I found myself in a dark situation when I started working on this collection.
I was going through a rough time, struggling to gain motivation to attend university or even get out of bed. With its focus on self-expression, the collection helped me overcome my troubles. I then discovered the rapper Tino Kamal on Instagram, whose account reminded me of my love for fashion.
How did Kamal inspire you?
I loved his style and energy; it was the kind of design I wanted to do. I immediately emailed him with a small questionnaire and to my surprise he responded. His answers were incredibly inspiring and helped me through my struggle against personal demons.
It was at that point that I immediately changed my design process from tailoring in spite of my tutor’s concern. I only had a month to complete this new collection, but I took full advantage of the time available. I created all the garments from neoprene, each hand painted and drawn. Each piece expresses meaning, displaying inspirational quotes and people that helped me be myself. It helped me heal a little. It helped me to realise it’s not only okay, but important, to be me.
What inspires you creatively?
I have mostly drawn my inspiration from tattoos and gangsters over the last year. I love tattoos, especially the artistic skill behind them. I respect gangsters’ sense of family and loyalty. In spite of criminal activity, they can demonstrate respect and valuable morals.
I have a particular interest for the Kray twins, and have completed several projects on Ronnie and Reggie Kray. I intend to portray the gangster lifestyle with my garments. I want those wearing my clothes to feel empowered and have confidence; I want my clothes to make you feel on top of the world, unique and amazing.
What is your favourite film of all time?
My favourite film is ‘This is England’ from 2006, based on a group of skinheads during the Eighties. I love this film as it’s written with inspiring detail. The acting is exceptional as the actors were given basic lines and told to improvise to fulfil their characters’ roles to their own interpretation. The community portrays incredible morals. They live a carefree way of life. There is a fierce loyalty resounding throughout and even though they don’t have much, their lives are rich with happiness. I love that.
What is your favourite music track or album right now?
I’m a lover of all music: sad, happy, loud, quiet… Whilst working, the most motivational music is probably Maximes or Wigan Pier. It is uplifting and motivational. It makes me want to get up and get on.
What is your favourite on-line video?
I’m currently watching ‘Orange Is The New Black’ on Netflix – I love it.
What is your favourite blog or website for inspiration?
When I’ve decided on what project I’m doing, I tend to gain inspiration from sources online. However if it’s a project based on real life (like the Kray twins), I tend to avoid the Internet, as I don’t believe it gives you the whole truth. There are too many stories out there so it’s hard to know which ones are true. I find Instagram is great for coming across inspiring things; it’s where I found Tino Kamal.
What is hot or new in the world and/or where you live?
Tattoos. Although they are not new, there is now a greater acceptance and appreciation for the art. I have a lot of tattoos myself and I consider the movement still new in 2015. My mum has just completed her tattoo sleeve at the age of 44, which I find inspiring.
What does Fashion mean to you?
For me, fashion is art. It can make you feel in different ways. It’s an art for the body. When you’re wearing something incredible, you’re like a walking, talking Mona Lisa.
What would be your ideal Fashion Project?
My ideal fashion project would involve working on a huge collaboration with multiple talents from graffiti artists, tattoo artists and hair and make up artists. I would want this project to be on a global scale, with hundreds of collaborators, to inspire many across the world, as all my designs have meaning and reason behind them. My ideal fashion project would be show stopping. It would make people think, feel good and change for the better.
How do you imagine your future?
Perhaps I will be living in America as a menswear designer. That’s just one idea, but is it me? I feel claustrophobic when forced to limit myself to just one category of menswear. I want to design for both genders, and I’d love to design avant-garde, or even create pieces for performers on tours, music videos and movies.
What is your ideal internship?
Having already interned at a sports brand, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience, I would jump at the opportunity to intern for Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.
What is your inspiration? How do you want to feel when selecting the clothes you put on yourself?
What inspires you creatively? Why not tell us in the comment section below.
Dale Nathan Ridley is a finalist for Modeconnect’s #YourView15 fashion competition sponsored by Bloomsbury Publishing. The support of our sponsor extends to all our readers: until the end of July 2015 they can benefit from 20% off ALL Bloomsbury’s fashion and design books! Just use the code YOURVIEW2015 at the checkout on www.bloomsbury.com.
Voting open 11th – 19th July 2015.