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My discovery into fashion

Monday, July 21, 2014

My name is Hollie Robson and I am currently studying at New College Stamford. I’m studying Level 3 extended diploma in fashion and clothing which is a two year course (I’ve just completed the first year).

I regularly find myself being asked ‘what can you study in fashion?’  I will let you know there’s more to learn than meets the eye!

In September 2013 I began studying art at GCSE. I love the fashion world and how it impacts society and as a person how it affects us, as well as makes us feel towards others and ourselves. Despite this I didn’t know the first thing about it.

In September one of the first tasks was a textile project. We had to design costumes for our College production of Moulin Rouge, which was being performed by the drama students. This included having to create a garment which would be practical as well as comfortable (one of the main aims in clothing), yet has to look drop dead amazing, right?

I had also never used a sewing machine before which was a very scary moment, as well as having the pressure to actually create a garment. The project included research of Moulin Rouge as well as Indian clothing. The Indian Clothing references to a scene in the film, however the costumes are worn throughout the performance. After researching we then had to make measurements and amendments ensuring it would fit our clients. This links into many areas within fashion especially for our project for Yours Clothing. This is only an example of one of our projects which personally I found challenging as it was designing and making functional garments to be worn.

In our course there is a diverse range to learn, we discovered this due to our next project, where we looked into the timeline of fashion. We researched about the decades of fashion and how it has impacted to this present day. This also included research in trend prediction, we looked at a range of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Dazed and how their styles differentiate. Textile base is where we create garments and this also covers how they are constructed (seams, buttons, fabrics, hems, zips, printing, stencils, dying fabrics and techniques such as tie dye, developing samples and pattern cutting).

There is also a lot of writing involved, we have to give explanations of what we have done and give justifications (e.g. colour choice, stitching techniques, how it benefits our client, how we developed it, the texture, the pattern composition) Before doing this, I  always research what is needed, if not where would I start?! It is necessary to always research the client and topic.

Imagery is also vital in our work, for example, why we have been inspired and the link between primary imagery and secondary imagery.

Function and form is something else I have learnt during creating our collection for Yours Clothing, which I discovered is very important to the high street. Whilst taking part in the Yours Clothing project we learnt how to use the software, Photoshop. Photoshop is incredibly important and useful for many uses. You can create and edit images, or we used it for scanning in flats of our designs and developing them for our final collection for Yours Clothing. Function is also important during seasons as we need to understand which fabrics suit which weather.

We always have deadlines of projects which is similar to the fashion industry.  We have the end time of the project where everything needs to be finished. At the end of every project we need to do an evaluation which includes positives and negatives we came across.

During class we all received our new project which was to create a collection for Yours Clothing. The project we were told needed to be on trend for our client as well as suitable (the season was Spring/Summer, so there were no big fluffy jumpers ladies!). The form was also very important to design, the main consideration is how the client feels and at Yours Clothing the customer is suited to feel confident and feminine. Before doing this we needed the professional touch which required the skill of Photoshop. Within my class everyone’s skills of Photoshop varied, some experienced and others having none, which was me! This required accurate stitch markings to show the construction for manufacturing.

Since having to design the collection for Yours Clothing we needed to firstly design a practice collection which required a top, jacket, dress, bottom half (trousers, shorts or skirt) and a bag (you can’t forget the bag it’s the most important item in the women’s world!) However like I said before, fashion isn’t just creating a pretty outfit; it’s what’s best for the company and their customers. As a class we were asked to research into Yours Clothing. What can be better research than visiting the company in person!

On our visit we went into the board room where we all sat down as a class with our Lecturer Rachel. We were introduced to the head of the company in which he gave us information about the store and how they are developing internationally, as well as their aims as a unique fashion company for plus sized women. Trend and comfort of the consumer was the main focus and how current trends can be translated into shaping, patterns, fabrics and colour. Target audience is important as clothing needs to cater for a range of ages and sizes.  We also were told the target age varied between three main age groups, 16-20, 20-45, 45-65. All this information was required to reflect Yours Clothing.

Our production started to emerge, almost! We now needed to research about trends from the catwalk shows of 2013/2014 to know our prediction for Spring/Summer 2015. Since I’m not the typical high street shopper and I just throw any old thing on, I found this very interesting. This required further research however with the knowledge from Yours Clothing we knew we had to adapt these trends for the requirements of consumers from Yours Clothing.  These trends will inspire us for our upcoming collection. For our final collection we created trend boards which featured imagery from research of catwalk trends we wanted to include in our collection for Yours Clothing. These were three boards which were Shaping, Colour and Pattern. In the class everyone is individual and has their own thoughts and ideas which is why in the final outcome was interesting to see the diverse styles yet which all benefited our client.

In my opinion the stereotypical Yours Clothing consumer is very feminine, girly which is why I linked my patterns, shaping and colours together in the collection. Since designing for a feminine client, I chose six pastel colours, pink, green, blue, peach, yellow and purple, all pastel shades. I found this had many benefits for my client such as it is on trend, can be used for all ages and sizes, flattens the figure as well as is feminine and vintage which is my key theme. The imagery I selected were a range of pastel coloured sweets, hair and flowers as well as other images of catwalk models and my Photoshop colour chips I created. To complete this was a little description on why I chose the colours. Others went for peacock colours, blues, purples, reds and bold colours. I found the lighter tones would also be more appropriate for the season. Since I wanted my collection to link for all ages, Ethnicity, hair colour, skin colour, culture and sizing I found my collection was all linked to this which I further explained in my book. From previous research on Yours Clothing I knew it was a high street brand, therefore I had to consider finance. The patterns I selected were floral and very feminine I find they can be a diverse print of composition movement and scale, shape and colour. Therefore I went on to use this pattern. I do know that not all women are stereotypically girly, which is why I chose a plaid pattern. Plaid is classy and looks formal which links into the vintage theme and is an alternative compared to the floral.

On the first day we learnt shape was extremely important and it was vital to make the consumer feel comfortable and more importantly confident. My key main shape which I firstly chose was the skater dress/shape. Yours Clothing told us this was the most popular selling shape. I then translated this shape into dresses and skirts with a variety of pattern or block colour. The next shape I decided on was cigarette trousers, they show off a bit of flesh and it is a formal look. They are also vintage and would focus more on the older target age. The final shape I chose was loose tailoring, I found them very multi-functional as they were lightweight, lose but appeared fitted. Length was essential as the target consumer needs to feel confident and not focus on areas they are self-conscious around. For this reason I chose long dresses and skirts as well as long sleeved, loose collared arms and three quarter length sleeves for those whom want to show off flesh (no lady should be covered up in the summer!) After completing our research about the company, visiting Yours Clothing, practice collection, boards of prediction, form and function research, imagery, and Photoshop skills it was finally time to begin our final production.

We started off designing our flats which are templates of free hand designs of the garment. Then we scanned them through a printer and opened it into Photoshop. We needed a variety of shapes in two dresses, five tops and three bottom garments.  I started off by drawing around the template of an A3 sized woman; we had to stick to the exact measurements of a plus sized lady for an accurate garment size. By drawing half the garment I was then able to copy and paste it on to Photoshop. I then flipped the image to make it symmetrical. In photo shop it was important to have symmetrical stitch marks to show the manufacture the construction of the garment. As a high street retailer it is best for a variety of shapes and patterns as then an alternative is always available, after all how many times has that happened to you? I wanted a range of length, colour, scale of pattern and a variety of shape which would suit all ages. I initially designed my dress in a skater style mainly aimed for a younger audience.

I then designed two other dresses with long sleeved cuffs, combining the function of a small cut out area on the bust for a feminine young trendy approach. This is a long length garment of loose tailoring with the formal approach of cuffs which also featured a high neckline. Yours Clothing told us that high necklines are most popular for their clients which I took note of. The floral print consisted peach base colour, featuring hints of pink and green leaves. The fabric I would’ve chosen is chiffon which can be loosely tailored as well appearing slightly transparent for the summer cool look.

The next dress was three quarter length, suitable for all ages. This dress I designed in block colours of purple and green. Other than this I had the same shape however with a lower neckline and a back collar with a funky floral pattern.

Upon finishing my dresses I then moved on to creating my tops. The first top I designed was a peplum style with three quarter length sleeves. The main pattern I used within the top was floral and resulted in being my favourite garment which I created. I liked this because I chose to have a design feature of fading dye to show the tones of peach and yellow for the summer feel. I feel they blended together using a brush tool on Photoshop with one sleeve yellow and the other peach. This featured a low neckline as well as a playful colourful pattern. I designed this to be baggy at the top and drawing it in to be fitted at the waist for the flow of the peplum shape. For an alternative pattern I then created a plaid top, this was half purple and the other half green.

My next garment I suited to an older target audience and it featured block colours in pink and peach. This garment I wanted to make the composition of poly cotton as it is light weight yet still has some flow within the product.  As an alternative to this style I wanted to aim something to a younger audience. Therefore I introduced a peplum top with no sleeves and a low neckline to show off some flesh.

These are both very busy patterned styles. I loved my first design of the lily pattern which I drew on Photoshop; I found the colours I used complimented each other really well and that they are iconic feminine colours. As a range I included a full plaid pattern garment of pink. I also comprised a jacket which was multipurpose as a cardigan also. This could be worn indoors and outdoors, either suiting casual or formal wear for a range of ages and sizes. I also considered seasonal features, therefore I designed it to be lightweight suitable for the warmer seasons. I chose button fastenings which opposed the colour of the main garment, e.g. pink cardigan, peach buttons.

My second shape of top was a loose tailored shirt which I find playful and links to the colours I’ve used. I had in mind this top would be worn for formal or business occasions, designed for all ages. It’s composed of a collar and design featured buttons. I chose block colours instead of a specific pattern.

Following on from this I created a long sleeved loose tailored top, consisting of block colours green and blue. This is baggy and features a pink collar and cuffs, made from poly cotton. Since having a variety of shaping as well as pattern I decided to do a simple block coloured vest top which has the range of all colours.

It was now time to create the bottom garments! I began with cigarette trousers in a plaid pattern. Looking into their design I decided this heavy pattern wouldn’t compliment all sizes so selected smaller sizes to portray the pattern. I decided I wanted a variety in block colours which would suit all occasions.

Next were the maxi skirts comprising of block colours, blue, green and purple. Two other patterns were also included to suit the collections, the classy rose and the classy centre playful look which would benefit the range.

Finally my last creation began… I created a skater skirt as they’ve been on trend last year and was very popular. They are also suited to a younger age range looking for some variety. I showed line movement to indicate the flow and shape of the skater skirt. Many of my patterns were block colours, yet I did do one pattern of the classy rose which has a variety of scale roses. I also wanted this waist band on show, so to complement the roses I chose a shade of pink.

On completion of our collection we needed to present our ranges on boards for a formal presentation. This meant ensuring it looked professional and included a range of images, fabrics, patterns and descriptions. This allowed us to give an insight into our collections. With this all complete it then meant the Yours Clothing presentation was our next task.

Since our deadline was complete, it was the wait to visit Yours Clothing Head Office on our last day of college. We arrived and sat in the board room where we were greeted. I had cue cards prepared which summed up the most important and vital information. I was very shaky!

Once our presentation had come to a close we needed to cover any questions that had been raised. I was happy to hear ‘No I think you’ve covered it all, well done!’

Since knowing very little in September regarding fashion, I have now created two garments and was proud of my overall achievement. Thanks to my course and Yours Clothing I have learnt a range of skills within the fashion industry. I’ve learnt skills within Photoshop, how to create a final collection and the definition of form and function. I’ve also learnt features within design to make women feel confident, despite your age or size. It has been a great experience and I’ve really enjoyed it!

In the future I hope to work in fashion communication. I also hope to attend university in September 2015. I’ve learnt a huge amount and thank Yours Clothing for all they have taught me.

‘The body is meant is to be seen, not covered up’

Hollie Robson

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