Ripping It Up: How Scottish pop music can inspire fashion

Fashion Communication students from Heriot Watt University have used the Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop exhibition and its rich archival reference points to inspire and underpin new ideas for contemporary fashion imagery and styling.

The exhibition, which showcases the inextricable link between music, art and fashion, introduced the millennial students to a new and wide variety of artists, musical genres and youth cults, while highlighting communication in a pre-digital age, from DIY fanzine and poster design to letter writing.

This archive provided much inspiration and encouraged the students to explore their own brief through DIY and the ethos and aesthetic of the late 70s and early 80s. Students researched its protagonists and practitioners, and investigated the influence of DIY culture on music, clubs, fashion and graphic design.

In the development of their own ideas, students embraced collage and cut up techniques to inspire ideas for both text and fashion styling through sketchbook work. Citing influences from the musicians and stagewear showcased in the exhibition, they used this reference to explore cross pollination, juxtaposition and mash up techniques to develop new styling aesthetics.

The DIY approach encouraged creative freedom within the design process, enabling Fashion Communication students with no background in pattern cutting or garment construction to confidently make statements of individual expression through adaptation and customisation of existing garments. This approach references both a punk manifesto and also the approach of the original club kids in the manifestation of original, self-expressive fashion statements.

Students have combined their research into the images of the bands and artists featured in the Rip It Up exhibition, with the ideology of Club Kids and the concept of spontaneously making an outfit for a night out, to inspire their own ideas for contemporary club wear.

“My favourite area of fashion is the link that it has with music, so the exhibition really inspired me as it gave me so many ideas and also introduced me to some artists and stories I wasn’t previously aware of.  I also discovered the photography of Harry Papadopoulos, which I really liked.  It was really inspiring to see how much success has come from Scotland” – Marnie Archibald

“The exhibition has inspired me to think outside the box regarding my own styling and to be more aware of the different inspirations that artists have incorporated into their own style.  I can see how current artists reference bands of the past and I have taken this into my own work.” – Bluebell Ross

“I have really enjoyed the concept of DIY and mashing things together to create something new.  In such a digital age, its nice to remember the benefits of hands on creativity” – Jordannah Singh

“You don’t need to look at London 24/7!” – Jack Shanks



The Fashion Communication students from the Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design will debut their contemporary club wear at Museum Late: Rip It Up on Friday 16 November in Edinburgh. This adult-only event features live music from two of the exhibition’s featured bands, along with bars, food, themed activities and a chance to explore the museum after dark. Find out more and book your tickets at

Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop runs at the National Museum of Scotland from 22 June – 25 November 2018. Find out more and book your tickets at

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