Birmingham fashion designer Stephen Arthur is calling on the best of the city’s artistic talent to lead the region out of the shadows of rivals London and Manchester.
Arthur, who won a national television contest last winter to design a perfect party dress, is determined to prove that Birmingham is at the forefront of fashion.
The 22-year-old former IT teacher, from Handsworth, is launching his autumn and winter collection next month amid much anticipation but he wants Birmingham to prove that it is capable of at least sharing the limelight enjoyed by the capital and trendy rival Manchester.
“I just want my home city to show what it has to offer,” he said. “Sometimes Birmingham does not get enough recognition and there is so much young, up and coming talent in the Second City. People think of Birmingham as just an industrial area but our skills and talents are a fine advertisement for the region’s creativity,” added Arthur, whose previous collection sold out when it was stocked by chain store John Lewis.
Arthur, who has been sketching and creating his own designs since he was young, learned his art as he watched his seamstress mother Carol work.With no formal training in fashion design, Arthur admits to drawing some of his creations on ‘bits of paper in the pub’ but said his dream has always been to have his own design label.
Independent funding helped him gain a chance to study at the renowned Central St Martin’s School of Art and Design in London, but his win in the competition run by ITV’s popular This Morning programme brought his work to mainstream attention.
“Most of my designs are diverse and unique and some are quite flamboyant. I want to make quality fashion accessible for all, but at the same time show how much Birmingham has to offer,” he added. The designer’s fledgling business already employs several young fashions enthusiasts and he’s keen to expand so more local people can join in his drive to have Birmingham marked as a centre of artistic excellence.
“I have a small team but I want to give others the chance to enjoy my success. I am very proud of my roots and I want to put a Made In England stamp on everything I do,” he said.
Arthur has already dressed guests for the glittering MOBO awards, but he’s not allowed to reveal their identity. He only wishes he could let on who wore the sparkling red carpet creations from inner-city Birmingham.
“I’m not allowed to say who wore my work. I had to sign a contract promising I wouldn’t name who wore my design,” he laughed. “There is so much creative talent in this city we just need to shout about it. I hope that I can help bring these skills to international attention,” he vowed.
* Stephen Arthur’s latest collection will be previewed at The Vaults in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter on June 6.