On Representation: Rosie Newton, the Designer Defending the Working Class

On Representation: Rosie Newton, the Designer Defending the Working Class

As part of the ‘Representation Issue’, XXY wants to give this generation of young creatives a voice to speak for themselves about their work. Today we meet with Rosie Newton; a fashion design graduate currently based in London. Newton’s work plays with ideas of classism and politics; her fun and playful designs pay tribute to her working-class northern upbringing, whilst making a stand against the political turmoil that threatens the environment she grew up in.

What does the word ‘representation’ mean to you?

When I think of the word representation I think of fair representation in a specific field. I guess to me it means a portrayal of every type of person in a field, specifically marginalised people who don’t usually get represented.

What informs your work the most?

Probably my own life experiences. A lot of the time it’s my childhood/teenhood and nostalgic elements of growing up, and films I have seen which relate to those times in my life.

When you create, do you have an end goal/vision in mind beyond the creation itself?

Sometimes there is an end goal or vision but mostly I just start with an idea and build on it until it morphs and develops into something even better.

How important is representation in fashion?

I think representation in fashion is really important, especially for people who have always been left out of the industry for example working class people, people of colour and queer people who aren’t cis white gay men. I feel like the fashion industry is still filled with rich white men!

What is most important to you generally in fashion?

I think it’s important to have a voice within my work and to somehow make a statement even if it’s a small one. I don’t think clothes can change the world but sometimes they can start a conversation.

What do you think your industry could be doing to be more representative?

I think the industry could be more inclusive of marginalised groups and of people who have been left out of the industry, like I mentioned earlier. There needs to be more designers from working class backgrounds, more queer designers, more designers of colour.

Image not owned by XXY


Is there a particular issue you feel strongly about highlighting or better representing?

I think from my graduate collection it’s clear to see I feel strongly about having more working class designers in the fashion industry. It is a really hard place for anyone who isn’t rich or doesn’t have a safety net of rich parents. It means we have the same kind of designers and the same visions constantly triumphing in the fashion world, and when we do see the odd working class designer doing shows they die out within a few seasons because it’s too hard to stay afloat without a cash flow behind you. There needs to be better ways of supporting young and upcoming designers from the inevitable shelf life the industry creates.

Do you have any tips for younger emerging creatives who find it hard to sync their activism with their careers?

It’s extremely difficult to sync activism with careers because that’s not the way capitalism works. At the end of the day we all have to pay our rent, not every career is going to allow for activism and some are going to make you succumb to your morals but I think creatives are lucky in that they can use their own work as an outlet for their activism. If you want to sync your activism with your career – make your own work in your spare time that outlets that activism/voice. Even if it’s a small side project that you just put out to your instagram followers.


You can find Rosie Newton on Instagram here.

Interviewed by Ellie-Connor Phillips

Fashion Assistant

Visuals by Ellie Connor-Phillips

Image by Ellie Connor-Phillips

Image not owned by XXY

Image by Ellie Connor-Phillips