Option 3: Fashion Industry

Words: Abi Goodman

“What’s good about Unit X is that it’s collaborative. It is more like industry. It gets students to think about their strengths and how they can combine those as a team.” (Sarah Easom, Senior Lecturer, Fashion)

Still to do

Last week we caught up with second year BA (Hons) students from BA (Hons) Fashion, BA (Hons) Textiles in Practice and BA (Hons) Fine Art who have selected to undertake the Fashion brief for their Unit X project.

Students selecting this option were able to choose from two briefs:

  • To design a fashion collection for James Long
  • To design costumes for the forthcoming play ‘Cuckoo’.

James Long has fast become one of the most sought after design talents in London. His fan base ranges from Alister Mackie (Creative Director at Another Man) and Luke Day (Fashion Director at GQ Style) to Lucas Ossendrijver who cites James as his favourite young designer.

Students working on the James Long brief were thrown straight into coming up with a concept in the introductory week. After a presentation by Tom Norcombe from James Long, groups of students worked together on initial ideas. They then had to test these ideas with Tom before the first day was up!

The brief involves working as a group on a range of 12 menswear or womenswear looks for the James Long customer to be presented back to Tom on his next visit. Students are encouraged to use experimental techniques with varied fabric weights and produce samples and illustrations of their collection.

We were fortunate to speak to four groups who spoke to us about their underlying concepts, what it is like to work as a group (especially one made up of students from different disciplines), and whether what they have learned will inform their future practice.

“We are learning a lot. Textiles works a lot differently from fashion. Textiles is about texture. Fashion have knowledge of finishing and fabrics.” (2nd year, Textiles in Practice)


“Fashion is more about technical sampling and learning. I have learned a lot more about experimental ways of working from textiles students. We can be more experimental as we are sampling rather than making a full garment. You can mix genres. You can go crazier.” (2nd year, Fashion student)

“Unit X is different. It is very fast paced. When you start you are more used to working individually which means you think you have to do everything. You get used to delegating. Working with 6 other people can be hard, sometimes it’s hard for us all to get together, but it does mean you can do several things at the same time.” (2nd year Fashion student)

“Group work is challenging but collaboration is probably something you need to get used to for the work place. It certainly makes it easier to come up with ideas within a group and to get work done.” (2nd year Fashion student)

“I have learned a lot. I mainly work in 2D but think I will take from this more 3D ways of working.” (2nd year Textiles in Practice student)

Themes arising from the groups we talked to include: Botanical Glamrock, 70’s tennis wear combined with rust references, Dirty Kitsch inspired by 1990s’ derelict towerblocks & hotels, and Sci-fi horror mixed with sportswear. We look forward to the presentation of the final outcomes of the project at the exhibition next month.

Meanwhile those engaged on the Cuckoo brief have been contextualising their work, drawing out and about in Manchester with some initial costume ideas.


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