Alva Wilson


Alva Wilson is a hat designer for men and women and has been making, designing and teaching for 25 years. Alva has been to arts school and has had many good and bad experiences in the fashion industry. In this talk he spoke about his love for designing hats,clothes and textiles. Alva had a presentation behind him of images and explained his journey through the fashion industry like a timeline. He started by talking about himself and how it all started from a young age and then he went on to explaining his journey from then till now.

Alva had explained a story from when he was younger, he worked with people who basically did not like his originality and his designs. From this experience, he felt like he could not be himself which is a disappointment. Knowing that Alva had this bad experience sounds scary and made me wakeup. Alva said that he hated fashion because of this.

Through the years, Alva discovered his love for hat designing/making , after he was working in a shop when a customer had asked him to make a hat to match a gown she had bought. He realised that he enjoyed making it and decided to practice and produce professionally made hats(hand stitched too).  Alva had a small stall in a market selling hats in 1998.

20160125_131430181_iOSINSPIRATION: Alva started his presentation by showing how he would find his inspiration. He said he carried a camera everywhere. He took photos of sculptures, buildings, patterns and even the floor.

EXPERIMENTING: Repetition: to create form+structure. Colours and texture.

Alva used wig heads to present a creative look for his hat designs. He had used a photographer to take proffessional pictures of his ideas, in 2007.

20160125_132626056_iOSPHOTOGRAPHERS: When Alva had a stall, he had a photographer who came in and said he loved the hats and asked to do a collab. The photographer wanted to enter a competition and knew some models who could model in Alva’s hats. Alva had agreed to work with this photographer and successfully won the competition, which was great for Alva too because after winning the competition, word got around that Alva had a small stall and he had gained more customers and also more confidence beause many people loved his designs. Collaborating caused everyone involved (hair stylist etc) many achievements and advantages. Alva said that its imorrtant to collab which is very true because both will get a good outcome out of it. Alva had also been offered his own shop a couple days after. He decided not only to make hats but clothes too. When he had his shop,many of his customers had bought hats instead of clothes which he didnt expect.


Alva was asked to design a hat to represent the street his shop was on. He decided to make the hat rim shaped like the road and had his hat presented in a Black Beauty Magazine:

20160125_133330621_iOS 20160125_133428970_iOS 20160125_133558407_iOS Alva had lost his shop and became suicidal and depressed, so he started felt making which he found a intrest in. It made him feel better because he was doing something he enjoyed. He applied for a teaching job in a college to teach felting and textiles, and got the job. Alva had idea to collaborate again, to work with a hair stylist to build up his portfolio more. Alva was apart of a fashion show and had more good experiences after his breakdown. Alva is still designing and making hats and menswear clothes and also still teaches in a college.

20160125_133748286_iOS 20160125_135812877_iOS 20160125_140024344_iOS 20160125_140140867_iOS 20160125_140452268_iOS 20160125_140814669_iOS 20160125_141253221_iOS

Alva’s talk was very motivational and I really enjoyed it, his experience and outcomes were interesting to listen to. My favorite parts of the talk was his collaborations. He also had a collab with someone who had a shop in Japan and wanted Alva’s hats to be sold there so they made it happen, Alva got 50% which is amazing having your work in a different country. His hats had also been sold in Birmingham. Another favorite was that Alva took photos of customers who bought a hat so that he could have a collection of his customer base/target and to stay in contact he asked for their email and sent them the image too. I also liked that when Alva designs, he likes to go beyond minimalism and likes to develop his ideas instead of doing a seasonal collection. And also with develping ideas he realised that it does not have to be a hat idea or garment, it could be something like decor.

Overall Alva has inspired me to keep trying,keep going. Whether there are people who do not like my work or even hate it, He has proved that when you do what you enjoy, it will be a hard journey but a great outcome with MANY people who admire your work.



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