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JW..the small town boy who's made it big in fashion.. DERRY DESIGNER'S CREATIONS INSPIRED BY RURAL HERITAGE.

Byline: VICTORIA McMAHON

HE counts the biggest names in fashion among his fans but JW Anderson isn't intimidated by Donatella Versace or Karl Lagerfeld.

The feted fashion designer has his down-to-earth upbringing and family to thank for that.

Growing up in a rugby- dominated household, his father is former Ireland captain Willie, JW's jet-setting lifestyle is a far cry from his childhood in The Loup near Magherafelt, Co Derry.

The designer credits his rural upbringing for feeding his creative ambitions.

He said: "When you come from a small town, you want things to be big."

But living the designer's dream doesn't mean JW, who is known to friends such as Alexa Chung as J-Dubs, has forgotten where he's from.

In fact, his acclaimed couture which is seen on catwalks around the world is often inspired by his rural childhood.

Recalling his favourite item of clothing he said: "I had an amazing sweater that I wish I still had.

"My dad's side of the family are farmers and we used to go to the farm. My grandmother knitted a turquoise jumper with a tractor in the middle of it in red, yellow and black.

"To be honest, I think the placement graphic knit we do now comes from that. My grandmother's sewing was also a big influence."

Working alongside fashion brand Nikon he once again delved into his childhood memory bank.

JW explained: "I wanted to create a bag with Nikon that was JW Anderson but functional and not a boring camera bag. It had to be something I would want.

"I was inspired by one I was given by my grandfather, a very old leather-bound camera that I wanted to make modern."

The designer has been making waves with his androgenous designs and has fast become a name as one of the hottest young designers, especially since he landed the role of creative director of Spanish luxury brand Loewe.

He added: "I think people love to keep the next big thing - I think we'll be the next big thing for 10 years.

"Ultimately people felt we came out of nowhere but we've been going for seven years and people are aware of you or they're not.

"You need to keep people around who won't just tell you what you want to hear, and keep your feet on the ground because when they're not on the ground that's when it will all go wrong."

Jonathan originally wanted to pursue a career in acting but discovered a love of stage costume while studying drama and went on to focus on menswear at the London College of Fashion.

His collection made its debut at London Fashion Week in 2008.

And due to demand from fans - who include Rihanna, Rita Ora and Pixie Geldolf - he launched a smaller collection for women.

In September 2012 the young fashion genius collaborated with high street giant Topshop on a limited edition collection that sold out within hours of the launch.

As for working with the biggest names in fashion, it would take royalty rather than fashion icons to leave him feeling speechless.

He said: "I never find it intimidating - to me people are people. "The only person who could intimidate me would be Obama or the Queen.

"Whereas these people are just human - I really don't care as long as I can sit and have a conversation with them.

"The minute you worship someone you'll never go past them."

JW Anderson is up for our Heroes of Youth Award's Northern Ireland role model gong which will be decided by public vote.

victoria.mcmahon@trinitymirror.com

TO PLACE YOUR VOTE LOG ON TO WWW. HEROESOFYOUTH.CO.UK BY THIS FRIDAY, MAY 8

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BOLD JW's catwalk collection

style icon Designer JW Anderson has his feet firmly on the ground
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 6, 2015
Words:632
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