Interview with EFWA2017 Upcycling Challenge Designer Francesca Phipps (London)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

I have always been interested in the arts/fashion. My dad is an artist and my grandmother was a seamstress so I was constantly watching her sew growing up. Creativity is a way for me to express myself as a person, I love being able to get inspired by the smallest of things and watch this develop into a story which I hope will inspire other people too. I first properly studied fashion at college which really pushed me in the right direction, making me want to learn more, and from then on I have always pushed myself, watching myself grow and having the amazing support from my parents. I want to keep on developing my brand and myself as a fashion designer.

I know you trained at De Montfort University (Leicester). Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

I am so grateful that I studied at De Montfort University. During my studies I learnt a variety of skills from initial research to creating the final garment with all the technical elements. There was a lot of pressure and high work load however I found this very beneficial because the fashion industry is very fast paced so it was great practice. I have always found colour placement/print fascinating this is a skill I really like to test the boundaries with. One of my main struggles was keeping to schedule, however over time I got quicker and always got tasks done.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I aim for my brand to be high end, an effortless chic/streetwear look. My customer is a young woman from 18-40 however this does vary on each collection. My work involves a lot of colours and prints which I have hand drawn myself. I currently work full time so in my spare time I constantly give myself projects to do to keep myself learning and expanding. I also create custom work.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

I am thrilled to be participating in this event. Yes I have, previously when I was studying at University I got picked for the ‘Katharine Hamnett – Just Fashion Hay Festival challenge’ I had to create a up-cycled garment in a week which was a challenge however very exciting and useful. I created a garment by printing on the back of denim with the prints being paint splashes allowing the user to add to the garment with their own print idea so they can re-use the outfit various amount of times as fashion is so fast paced and moving. I didn’t want the consumer to get bored of the outfit.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

This is an exciting project for me as I love working with used garments this is a way I usually create shapes for my collections. I want the audience to expect potentially a clash of prints, contemporary shapes mixed with classic details and drape. I want there to be an element of drama from this piece.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

For me I always love to see the reaction of the audience. This is what helps me build and grow as a designer. As I love draping and mixing tailoring I really want the audience to see the detailing. To me it is always important how the body manipulates the fabric, this is something I have always focused on.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

I want to keep showcasing my designs worldwide, so far I have been grateful to showcase in, London, New York, Vancouver and now Australia. I want to keep improving my brand and gaining a bigger audience. As eventually one day I see myself fully established with my brand having boutiques across the world.

Links -

Website –
Instagram – @francescaphippsfashion
Facebook –