Meet the two streetwear designers from Manchester competing for the ‘life-changing’ prize in BBC Three’s The Drop


BBC Three’s latest show, The Drop, is best described as the cross between The Great British Sewing Bee and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. It’s something we didn’t really know we needed until now, but we’ll take it.

Filmed in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the show follows nine entrepreneurial streetwear designers as they aim to make a name for themselves in the fashion world and win a “life-changing” prize. The winning designer will win a contract with retailer Flannels to exclusively purchase and stock their next collection.

With high prizes at stake, this is something everyone takes seriously. Hosted by Clara Amfo, the show features Grammy-winning singer Miguel, alongside clothing designer and skateboarder Blondey McCoy and fashion designer Marc Jacques Burton.

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Each of the nine contestants come from different parts of the UK and all have a different focus on what they want to create. There’s Saaba from London who likes to pay homage to her African roots, Sophie from Leeds who creates unisex “festival-ready” outfits and Missy from Essex who draws inspiration from the 90s R&B scene.

Of course, given that this is a show filmed in Manchester, it wouldn’t be fair if the Northern Powerhouse didn’t have its own representation either. Greater Manchester is replaced by ‘dysfunctional’ Luke and Bolton boy Sam.

Blondey McCoy, Clara Amfo, Miguel and Marc Jacques Burton

“I wanted to show people that I was designing clothes for amputees”

Luke Marshall, 28, has his own streetwear brand called Dysfunctional, which creates “disability-friendly yet stylish yarns”. “He’s got that name because I’ve had a very dysfunctional life,” he admits.

“The brand was created after I lost my leg in 2012. I stopped to help a girl who had been in a traffic accident and went to help her but then I was run over by a driver drunk who took my leg off.”

Prior to appearing on The Drop, Luke admits he never made a piece of his own line – instead relying on suppliers and factories. Although he says the challenge was tough, it’s something he knows he’s destined to do since the accident.

Luke Marshall
Luke Marshall

He explains: “My mother also died around this time (from the accident), but before she died she said, ‘You’re crazy about clothes, so why don’t you start a clothing brand?’ I didn’t think about it at first, but then I kept debating what to do.

“Then when my mum died it made me want to do it even more and that’s how the brand started.”

The former plumber, who is inspired by Virgil Abloh, said that while many people often see him as the wild card of the pack, he likes to tell important stories with his designs.

He says: “Everything on my clothes has meaning to me – the date I lost my leg, the day my mother died. These are things that mean something to me and to others as well.

“The North isn’t grim – it’s a pretty happy and fun place!”

Sam Shep, 28, from Bolton, started his label Donkwear with girlfriend Madi in 2018. Inspired by rave culture, it encompasses everything from smiley, glowing faces to bold graffiti pants and glow-in-the-dark prints.

He explains: “We both grew up in the towns around Manchester and Rochdale and in the early 2000s a genre of hard dance music called donk was prevalent in the communities.

“The essence of this music is what we wanted to incorporate into our brand – cheekiness, playfulness, but also showing that the North isn’t grim. It’s a pretty happy and fun place. I think it is important for us too.

Sam says her path to fashion came after studying graphic design. He says his “honest, transparent and real” brand makes “lightweight punky clothing for the working class”.

“As designers, we try not to be inspired by fashion, because we’ve found that you can end up copying things by accident,” he says. “So our line is more people-inspired. It’s about different kinds of cultures. It’s about club culture and how working-class people in the North use clubs to escape their realities.

“It’s how we use art, music, dance, all these different spaces to escape reality, but it’s specifically about being working class. I think we just want to be honest and as authentic as possible with our process.

“I think that’s something the fashion industry doesn’t have right now. We make our clothes for culture and community.

“It’s a highlight for me”

Radio 1 DJ and former Strictly Come Dancing star Clara Amfo takes on hosting duties for The Drop. Having worked in streetwear boutiques before taking her big break, it’s something she says was destined to be.

“My day-to-day look is very casual,” she says. “I live for innovative sneakers, t-shirts and designs and worked in streetwear stores before getting into TV, so this is a full circle highlight!”

Clara Amfo hosts BBC Three's latest competition series, The Drop
Clara Amfo hosts BBC Three’s latest competition series, The Drop

Asked what sets The Drop apart from other shows, Clara said: “I think it’s quintessentially British and I think it’s very timely as people are more aware of who they want to buy from.

“I love the direct-to-consumer element, everything the creatives did was tested immediately on the buying audience. I think that was really valuable to their business process and something that hadn’t been seen before in a show like this.

She added: “To see someone think and create a piece of clothing from scratch is really amazing and I was impressed with what I saw, I wanted to buy a lot of their stuff!”

The Drop airs on BBC Three every Monday and can also be viewed via iPlayer.


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