Home / News / The Future of Fashion – Burnley College Student Wows Judges To Win Sustainability Themed Competition

The Future of Fashion – Burnley College Student Wows Judges To Win Sustainability Themed Competition

A creative Burnley College Sixth Form Centre Student combined his design skills with style and sustainability to win the Gawthorpe Fashion Challenge. 

The competition saw teams create, photograph and present fashion concepts around a theme – upcycling and sustainability. 

Finlay Maguire, 17, from Bacup, was recognised in the contest organised by the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, for his bold, character driven pieces which featured reused clothing to ensure minimum impact on the environment. 

Finlay, who is studying A Level Graphic Communication, Media and Product Design at Burnley College and is a former pupil at Alder Grange School describes his route into fashion as “unconventional”: 

“I’ve always been into design and creating. I undertook a project to highlight funding in the NHS and, as part of that, started creating merchandise, experimenting with screen printing and gradients. 

“An opportunity to venture into fashion came when my Tutor, having seen the work I’d created, suggested I take part in a fashion show: this really intrigued me.  


I view all art as a form of expression and think strong art carries a profound meaning. Themes of sustainability had already been part of my work for some time, using clothing from charity shops – which also provides a huge variety in the type and vibe of the garments you work with.

Finlay Maguire

A Level Student at Burnley College

The competition is an annual event organised by the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, the internationally-renowned collection of global textiles located in Padiham; Super Slow Way, a cultural development programme developing social spaces where people can express their cultural identities and celebrate creativity and British Textile Biennial, a Pennine-based charity dedicated to creativity, innovation and expression in textiles.  

Amanda Odlin, from the University of Central Lancashire, is one of those responsible for staging the competition. She says the subject resonated with young designers: 


Fast fashion is a significant issue when it comes to sustainability and we wanted to see how young people would go about promoting slow fashion and environmentally conscious design among their peers.

Amanda Odlin, UCLAN

Competition organiser

“The competition is a hugely educational experience for the participants who get to work alongside mentors from textile backgrounds who are experts in their field, passing on so much valuable knowledge. 

“We’ve seen really strong creative relationships develop over the course of the competition, even given its fast-paced nature. That’s exactly the experience we wanted to create.” 

Amanda says Finlay’s exceptional drive and dedication were part of the reason for his success: 

“His graphics skills are evident, but what really impressed us was his open-minded approach on how to translate those skills into creating incredible fashion that really stands out. 


You saw every side of his personality in his process and designs. He has a quiet dedication while working, but then a vibrant, playful side emerges during photoshoots.

He brought these together to create a comprehensive look, even working with very tricky materials at times. Whatever he chooses to do, he will do it brilliantly.

Amanda Odlin, UCLAN

Competition organiser

Finlay is also looking to the future: 

“It’s nice to get recognition for your accomplishments, but I always know there’s room for improvement. I’m always trying to elevate my work. 

“I’m currently developing a lifestyle and clothing brand. I’m envisaging a unique marketing style with the use of characters to model the clothes in a cinematic universe and comic strips for each item of clothing, adding extra layers of detail and interest.” 

Are you looking to the future? Do you have a passion for creating? Is sustainability something you want to learn more about? At Burnley College we have a wide range of courses for creative people and people who want to make a greener, cleaner future. 

If you’re in Year 10 or Year 11 and thinking about your future after GCSEs, come to our next Open Event, talk to our expert Tutors, explore your study options and discover our new fashion room. 

Book your place now: Events – Burnley College Burnley College