Her Fashion Show was Inspired By Her Caribbean Grandfather’s Immigrant Experience

Tihara Smith, 21, who lives in Elephant and Castle, would hear stories from her grandfather, who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the 1950s.

A fashion student has presented her collection inspired by her grandfather and the Windrush generation at the Graduate Fashion Week.

Her work draw from his story and from photographers who documented the black experience in this period. 

She said: “He tells me stories about his experience of London when he first came here, like where he worked, how he and his friends socialised, and of course how cold it was in London.

“I think it’s important for young people who are second and third generation Windrush to listen to stories of those who are part of the Windrush generation as it allows us to understand the sacrifices that our parents/grandparents made so that we can have the opportunities that we do now.”

The University of the Creative Arts Epsom student focuses on the generation’s everyday objects, such as ornaments and souvenirs the immigrants would bring from their homes.

The collection she presented at the college’s Graduate Fashion Week on June 5 featured embroideries of Caribbean plants and included a handbag with the slogan “You Called, We Came” — to show that the Windrush generation were responding to a call for help in coming to the UK.

The Graduate Fashion Week is an event that displays work of student fashion designers at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, east London.

Ms Smith said: “I started this project in October 2017, quite a while before the ‘Windrush scandal’ was in the media, so it didn’t really affect my creative process.

“However, when the media started reporting on the scandal and I heard the terrible stories of people that belong to the Windrush generation, who had lived and worked in the UK for years being send back to the Caribbean, it made me want to push my work out there even more to show people all the positive, great things that the Windrush generation had brought to the UK.”

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