Condé Nast College graduate Finn Colfer, talks digital fashion with his new phygital brand of sustainable streetwear.
Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design is always at the cutting edge, but graduate in BA(Hons) Fashion Communication, Finn Colfer, has taken things one step beyond with his new phygital brand of sustainable streetwear.
Turning Fashion from physical to digital
“I was looking for a way to utilise new technologies to connect with those Gen Z people who are so drawn to innovations,” Finn explains. “It all stemmed from my degree dissertation, which is on fashion digitalization and the future of the technological fashion industry. I have to admit, looking back on it, it was a pretty ambitious project to take on. There aren’t that many theorists in this area so I had to do a lot of thinking and speculating about what might happen, but the College was really encouraging and supportive and urged me to do as much research as I could. Ruth Marshall-Johnson, my supervisor and tutor was with me all the way and saw me every week, guiding me and giving me help, so what could have been a nightmare ended up as a really good experience.”
Finn’s journey into the unknown has taken him into the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), avatar clothing skins, and myriad other tech-based concepts which he has merged with physical fashion into his brand, IRL, “to create something new and exciting to grab the attention of those Gen Zs – to connect with them,” he says. IRL is itself a play on words; it stands for In Real Life even though it has a second identity online as well. His inspirations are rooted in the physical world and come from sports, music, pop culture, and cars.
“I draw a lot of inspiration from those things especially when it comes to logos and branding in a similar way to how Shawn Stussy gets much of his inspiration from surf and skate culture. He’s drawing on things that interest him, so I’m doing the same things, channeling my passions into my brand ideas. If the brand isn’t personal to me, what would be the point?”
The inspiration behind the project
Finn is from Ireland and that’s where IRL’s second meaning originates. “It’s simply the abbreviation used for Ireland in international competition,” he says, “and there’s a look of the athletics singlet to some of my designs. I also drew from the BMW M3 Series, which I think is a beautiful triumph of branding. I’ve taken the colouring and logo and kind of reconfigured and redesigned it. It’s an ode to the design of the M3, if you like.”
Finn talks about his debt to the College and how it broadened his horizons. “If you’re interested in fashion and considering coming here you’ve got to look at the incredible breadth of the modules available – there’s so much choice covering everything from fashion styling, image making all the way to graphic design, branding, marketing – it gives you the perfect package for creating a product then being able to communicate it before delivering the final piece. You get to grips with all of those stages of the process which is really good.”
He has one piece of advice for anyone just starting out.
“Try everything; figure out what you like and stick to it. If you don’t feel really interested and engaged you won’t be able to give your best. Explore what’s going on around you, what’s affecting the world, and draw inspiration from it, because that’s how you’re going to connect with consumers.”
Find out more about IRL with Readymag: