Fashion student wins BBC Three streetwear design competition

06 May 2022

Kemi Gbadebo’s next collection will be stocked by luxury retailer Flannels



A fashion student’s streetwear brand will be stocked by a luxury online retailer after she won BBC Three design competition The Drop.

Third-year Manchester Fashion Institute student Kemi Gbadebo was chosen as one of Britain’s most promising up-and-coming creatives by an esteemed judging panel of artists and designers after an eight-week competition.

The next collection from her clothing brand GBADEBO, already a hit on social media, will now be bought and stocked by Flannels, one of the country’s leading luxury brands.

She said: "I feel so blessed to have been given such an amazing opportunity to push my brand to the levels I only dreamed it would go. The whole process, although stressful and intense was one of the most uplifting experiences I've ever had. Having both judges and contestants consistently building you up and helping to instil a sense of self belief was a huge part in helping to get to the final.

“I am beyond proud of my fellow contestants and will continue to aspire for a more eco-conscious change in the industry as well as everything I want GBADEBO to be."

Her victory was announced by the Grammy Award-winning artist and senior judge Miguel and BBC Radio 1 DJ and host Clara Amfo at the end of Monday’s final episode.

I feel so blessed to have been given such an amazing opportunity to push my brand to the levels I only dreamed it would go. The whole process, although stressful and intense was one of the most uplifting experiences I've ever had.

Judges were impressed by Gbadebo’s sustainable brand, heavily influenced by the 90s and hip hop street culture, a love of music and art, and her dual Nigerian and Spanish heritage.

The Drop contestants were set a series of challenges for a show designed to “capture the cultural synergy between fashion, music, sport, celebrity and business”, finding the brightest young streetwear designers “ready to make the leap from the bedroom to the global market”. The judging panel was completed by artist, clothing designer, skateboarder and model Blondey McCoy and entrepreneur and fashion designer Marc Jacques Burton.

Speaking about her brand, Gbadebo said: “The reason why I started was just because I love making clothes. As a student, I didn't really have any money to buy new fabric so I started using old jeans primarily and any sort of clothing I get my hands on.

It has been great to see Kemi on The Drop, using all the skills she has acquired while studying on our programme. This has ranged from the expected skills in design and make as well as working well under pressure and collaboration.

“It all started in lockdown when all the fabric shops were shut down so everyone was going through their wardrobes, sorting through them and people were just given me bags upon bags of clothes. My whole dining room was packed!

“So then I just started making clothes and then my brand kind of blew up. From then on, I started learning about sustainability. People branded me as a sustainable brand, before I even necessarily knew what sustainability was and then as I got to know about it, I grew a massive passion for it and I thought, you know what, I am a sustainable brand! This is something that I really care about.”

Dr Susan Atkin, Programme Leader for BA Fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “It has been great to see Kemi on The Drop, using all the skills she has acquired while studying on our programme. This has ranged from the expected skills in design and make as well as working well under pressure and collaboration. Kemi has successfully balanced her university projects and what she has been doing through The Drop, and she is producing some really exciting work. We wish her well in her future endeavours!"

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