A De Montfort University (DMU) student’s colourful knitwear collection made from shoelaces and inspired by her Indian heritage was awarded a top textiles award at one of the UK’s most prestigious student fashion events. “We are very proud of Sarika and the uniqueness of her work, which meant she stood out as the best contender worthy of winning the David Band Textiles Award. It’s a real testament to the quality of the innovative collections we had on the catwalk this year.” Sarika Pancholi, a final-year fashion design student at DMU in Leicester, UK, was one of three students to be put forward for the David Band Textiles Award at Graduate Fashion Week in June. This follows a successful month for the student whose talents have been spotted by fashion retailer River Island, who have just offered her an internship as a knitwear assistant. English fashion designer Zandra Rhodes has also named Sarika as one of the top five British designers to look out for this year. For her collection, Sarika took inspiration from her rich Indian culture and traditional British knitwear techniques, and also incorporated everyday items into the garments, such as shoelaces, straws, lolly-pop sticks and whistles. The 22-year-old, who lives with her family from India in Leicester, spent 40 hours a week for seven months to creating the catwalk collection. Sarika said: “I am still feeling very overwhelmed by the whole experience of Graduate Fashion Week – it was an amazing few days. It’s a privilege to win an award in honour of the late David Band, who has been an inspiration to so many artists and designers. It’s a real reward for all the long hours spent on finalising my portfolio and catwalk collection.” Della Swain, fashion design course leader at DMU, added: “We are very proud of Sarika and the uniqueness of her work, which meant she stood out as the best contender worthy of winning the David Band Textiles Award. It’s a real testament to the quality of the innovative collections we had on the catwalk this year.” Commenting on Sarika’s work, judges at Graduate Fashion Week said: “From research to conclusion Sarika has used her own personality and understanding of textiles to a great degree.” Her collection also recently won her The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters Bursary of £2000. The bursary meant Sarika was mentored by someone from the company throughout her final major project.