Introducing the amazing Joshua (he/him) and Zuzanna (she/her).
Leeds Rag Fashion Show is back for 2023, so Lippy fashion editor and previous LRFS Director, Catelyn Louwrens is getting the first details. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, LRFS is the largest student run event in Leeds, with all the profits raised going to charity. It is a celebration of local creativity, and perfectly demonstrates how fashion can be used to represent a deeper meaning. Read on to find out exclusive details about this year’s show, including information about the upcoming launch party!
Q: Can you tell us all bit about yourselves?
Zuzanna: My name is Zuzanna, I’m from Poland, I’m 22 and I’m studying Business Management with Marketing.
Josh: And I’m Josh I’m 24, soon to be 25, and I’m doing a Masters in International Relations.
Q: What was your motivation to apply to direct the show this year?
Zuzanna: I started university in 2019 so the majority of my university experience has been during lockdowns and I never really got to experience being involved with LRFS myself, but I always followed the show and really loved it. I actually considered studying Fashion Marketing, but my parents didn’t really get it, so I went down the business route and decided to go into fashion later. I spent last year studying abroad in Copenhagen and got involved with fashion weeks and a PR internship in the fashion industry while I was out there. So after that I couldn’t go back to Leeds and just do uni – I had to do something fashion related as well to get some more experience and this seemed so fun so I thought why not apply.
Josh: For me I just needed something to throw myself into, I wanted to test my limits and prove to myself that I’m capable of doing something like this. I also needed a creative outlet, obviously doing international relations is really interesting and I love it, but it’s very heavy. So I loved that with this, it’s a platform to actually do something really good and help people, but I also get that creative outlet.
Q: So Zuzanna you already touched on this, but would you say you have a strong interest in fashion and are you both wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Zuzanna: This sounds so cheesy, but since I was a little girl I’ve always really enjoyed fashion. I think since I’m the first one in my family to get into fashion I didn’t have anybody to look up to so I wasn’t too sure about pursuing it as a career because it’s so new to me. But I think with time I realised I just have to try - but it’s definitely something I have planned for a long time and I’m finally doing it! Ideally I’d like to continue down this path and maybe do a Masters in Fashion.
Josh: When I was very young, I was completely obsessed with fashion and wanted to become a designer. Then I changed my mind and wanted to focus more on humanitarian work and politics. But I’ve realised that you can do very political things with fashion you just do it in a more creative form.
Q: How are you have you found working together so far?
Josh: I think considering that we applied separately and had never met each other before it was an absolute relief and a pleasure that we complement each other very well. We have a very similar vision and a similar work ethic.
Q: Have you had any challenges so far?
Josh: Not any, like, huge challenges
Zuzanna: Yeah like minor ones that you’ll always have to face. I think the only issues were related to communication but this is something we highlight the importance of to the committee. I think both of us aren’t afraid to speak up if something doesn’t work and then improve any issues.
Josh: I think I would say one of our biggest strengths is that we have initiative so that we can solve problems quickly, and our team is very much like that as well. Maybe it wasn’t at first, but I would say that now our communication is very strong, and we have that trust between us.
Q: What are you most looking forward to the most about directing the show?
Zuzanna: I think up until now there’s been a lot of admin and organisational stuff to do, which is fun as well, but I’m very much looking forward to starting the creative process including the photoshoots and working more closely with the stylist team because I really enjoy clothes.
Josh: It’s getting more and more exciting the more involved we get and the closer we get to the show. The tension is starting to build and it’s super exciting.
Q: Could you tell us which charities you will be supporting this year and why you choose them?
Josh: So the local charity we’ve picked this year is the Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service. This is a very sentimental charity to me. They’re based in Halton, which is where my mum grew up – actually in the building which used to be her dentist - so it’s meaningful. When I had mental health struggles she actually reached out to them for advice.
Basically they’re a group of mental health survivors that have set up a place of sanctuary. People can go in and just have someone to talk to or they can guide you to an expert if you’re in a crisis. It’s a different approach than going into hospital, which can be quite clinical or intimidating, as it’s a more personal approach coming from a place of experience and empathy.
The other charity, Young Minds, is a national charity which is helping young people speak up about their mental health. They encourage that initial conversation and guide people to where they need to go - whether it’s speaking to a friend or if they need more professional, medical help.
Zuzanna: I think what spoke to us the most about Young Minds is that they obviously focus on helping young people. We thought it was important to highlight fighting the stigma from the youngest age so that people don’t have to find help only when they’re in the most critical stage.
Josh: I think there’s a lot of pressure on children and teenagers to be having the time of their lives and to always be happy but for many people that isn’t the case.
Q: Would you be willing to give us an exclusive preview of this year’s theme and your vision for the show?
Josh: I would say the show this year will be symbolic of experiencing a mental health episode. How everything can seem really dark and like there’s no hope, and all the different emotions that you go through, but ultimately you can get help and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Zuzanna: We want to highlight that it’s not a process that you have to go through alone but you can come to the light with help from the community and other people.
Q: Finally, when will your theme reveal and launch party be and why should students come?
Josh: Our official theme reveal will be at our launch party on the 5th of December at Belgrave. Everyone should come because we are getting some amazing local bands, of all different genres including an up and coming punk band, and some really cool DJs and giving light to the local music scene. But also, this will be our time to officially broadcast who we are and what we’ve been doing for so many months now.
Zuzanna: It’s going to be a really fun night to see what to expect from the show and meet the people that are involved, and also maybe find out ways you can get involved closer to the show. We’re also thinking of doing a raffle.
Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Josh: I just want to emphasise that we’re obviously pushing the fashion show but our marketing and social media teams this year will be really focused on raising awareness for mental health and encouraging people to talk about it.
Words by: Catelyn Louwrens she/her
Imagery by: Jack Williams