Plymouth College of Art makes plans for fashion success
Described as a no holds barred seminar lifting the lid on the UK garment industry, the event was led by Fashion Capital CEO Jenny Holloway, drawing on her experiences as a Senior Buyer for M&S and the Arcadia Group, as well as owning her own label and running Fashion Enter, an ethical UK Factory which was recently awarded SME of the Year at the London Evening Standard Business Awards.
Boasting a range of influential names, the seminar offered exclusive insights into all aspects of the industry, from targeting consumers to how to choose the right fabrics. The event was attended by members of the public and students and staff from various courses at the college, including BA (Hons) Fashion, BA (Hons) Fashion Media & Marketing, BA (Hons) Costume Production & Associated Crafts, and ED Fashion & Textiles..
Speakers included Caren Downie, who has long been an ambassador for young British design talent in the UK. Caren shared insights from her work as a Brand Director and Buying Director with the likes of Topshop, ASOS and Finery, including the importance of consistency across branding and messaging.
Deborah Shulton, former fabric technician at Marks & Spencer, shared advice on choosing fabric including country of origin, wearability, and aftercare. Gabrielle Shiner-Hill, a highly skilled textile and fashion designer, offered insight into the design process and product development, highlighting how to ensure that your production and sampling is right first time.
“Know who your customer is and where they shop,” was the advice shared by former Head of Garment Tech for Topshop, ASOS and Finery London, Sophie Glover. Sophie shared what the industry defines as quality within garment production for brands. Former Group Marketing Director for global brand Monsoon & Accessorize Tracey Parks-Taylor offered advice on maximising marketing, followed by a discussion on the importance of technical qualifications from Bernadette Done of leading national awarding organisation ABC Awards.
Finishing the successful three-hour seminar, Plymouth College of Art’s Hannah Harris showcased the college’s own plans for a fashion focused factory based in the city. The college is currently exploring the idea of creating a "sampling unit", working in conjunction with the Millfields Trust to set up a social enterprise which would be situated in the old Jaeger factory near the city centre.
This exciting project looks to re-establish the city’s historical links to the fashion industry as well as providing jobs and support for recent graduates, new designers and SMEs in building their businesses.
Hannah said, "We are hoping to launch early in 2018, subject to funding. We want to hear from anyone that wants to use the service or work in the industry. Plymouth has a heritage of making, we used to be great at manufacturing, and celebrated it as a career and skill."
Paul Singleton, Associate Dean of Design at the college, said, "The unit would start small but grow with the ability to employ people locally. We are already producing talented designers, so this is a logical progression.”
Jenny Holloway, Fashion Capital CEO said, "Plymouth has academic excellence already with Plymouth College of Art, and now we have to harness that talent and create the businesses of tomorrow that will bring the London buyers to the South West.
"You don't have to move to London, you can make it here. Plymouth has huge potential."