9 Things we Learned from Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson CBE

As part of our Fashion Means Business blog series in celebration of the launch of our Fashion Business School, we asked CEO of Whistles Jane Shepherdson CBE to give us some of her wisdom to help all you LCF students on your way to fashion business greatness! And she definitely didn’t disappoint, here are 9 things we learned…

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1. The UK does fashion brilliantly

“I’ve spent my entire life basically taking the creativity and talent of our British design and turning it into something commercial. Fashion is a huge industry and one of the great things about it is that it’s something we, in the UK, are really really good at! And I think that’s something to celebrate.”

2. It is important to have a creative vision

“Without a strong creative vision your brand will just float around on the winds of trend, it will be inconsistent, your customers won’t trust you and will end up becoming dependent on price.”

3. It’s important to find your niche and deliver it Read the rest of this entry »

LCF MA15 graduate shows at Lisbon Fashion Week

LCF MA15 graduate Ana Duarte, MA Fashion Design and Technology: Menswear has recently shown her designs at Lisbon Fashion Week.

LCF News caught up with Ana to find out more about her experience and the wonderful feedback she received…

Image credit: Gonçalo M. Catarino

Backstage at Ana’s show, Image credit: Gonçalo M. Catarino

LCF News: How did you get involved with Lisbon Fashion Week?

I applied to the “Sangue Novo” competition. It is a platform for new designers to present their work. In the end I was selected along with 9 other brands.

LCF News: Tell us a little bit about your experience there…

It was very good to present there. It’s a big honour to show in my country and get to do it at such a big event. I had to attend a few meetings just for them to see the work I had done, they did the model casting but gave us all the freedom to do everything else (such as choosing the song, the order of the models, the styling).

Image credit: Gonçalo M. Catarino

Image credit: Gonçalo M. Catarino

LCF News: What are the inspirations behind your designs?

The human body, nature and technology.

LCF News: How did it feel to see your work on the runway? Read the rest of this entry »

A Day in the Life of an ASOS Merchandiser

It is our absolute pleasure to announce ASOS as our overall Industry Partner Award winner! This is the last of our awards, which will be returning next year.

So why are ASOS so brilliant? ASOS are a global online fashion retailer with over 60,000 product lines across womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, jewellery and beauty. This means that they are the perfect fit for LCF students and graduates – and they have a great track record of supporting our students.

Kirby Akindeinde Merchandising Administrator at ASOS

Kirby Akindeinde Merchandising Administrator at ASOS

ASOS offer a variety of work experience including long-term placements from all specialisms; Design Technology, Management and Business, and Media and Communications. They look for candidates who are passionate and importantly, embrace change and innovation. The team at ASOS really value the importance of an established development programme for all interns, and they always ensure that they offer feedback for students interviewed.

ASOS have been involved with LCF in many ways over the years: projects; placements; graduate recruitment; supporting our alumni. Members of the team have come in to take part in freshers’ talks, panel discussions, workshops and the annual LCF job fair. Always, looking for talented students and graduates, the team welcome applications via their website at all stages of the year. We look forward to working with ASOS for many years to come!

In order to give you all a little taster of what it is actually like to work for ASOS, Merchandising Administrator Kirby Akindeinde took us behind the scenes for a ‘day-in-the-life’. Here’s what she had to say… Read the rest of this entry »

Graduate School Festival: The Global Perspective on fashion business

The Global Perspective panel discussion signalled the end of the week long LCF Graduate School Festival. The final day of the festival was dedicated to talking about the future of the fashion business and how it’s changing, along with considering fashion beyond the UK.

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Eric Musgrave, Editorial Director at Drapers magazine, chaired the panel that took place on 13th March 2015. He was joined by Floriane de Saint-Pierre, founder of Eyes on Talents, Adiba Osmani, marketing consultant at Tech City UK and Peter Ruis, CEO of Jigsaw. The panel reflected on how much the face of the fashion business has changed since most of them started their career over two decades ago.

Although the panel agreed that the Internet and digital technology has given the fashion industry a facelift, the core skills and values still remain.

Talking about how the market and competition has changed but the competitiveness and creativity of fashion still remain the heartbeat of the industry, Peter Ruis said: “everything has changed but nothing has changed.” Read the rest of this entry »

Fashion Means…luxury markets

As part of our Fashion Means Business blog series, in celebration of the launch of our Fashion Business School, we want to show you the broad range of exciting career opportunities available to you in the world of fashion business. Keep an eye out for more!

Guest blog: Lackluster, Caution

China was a Noah’s Ark to luxury brands  in the global finance turbulence. However, it seems that now the idea that opening a store in China would directly correspond to an increase in profits, may now be more of a myth. New entrants can no longer easily replicate the magic.

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The First-ever Decline

In ‘2014 China Luxury Market Study’ released by Bain & Company in January 2015, it was revealed that this once most promising market posted the first-ever negative growth in its history. Through a one percent decline, it indicated that the era of high year-on-year growth was officially over. So what had happened?

The new Chinese government’s crackdown on corruption dented the consumption of luxury goods for over two years. Luxury menswear and watches were usually on the ‘gifting list’, but now officials dare not accept this form of bribery and their ‘grey income’ has either been drained or is no longer spent on luxury because of the pressure from the anti-corruption campaign.

The booming middle-class in China is still spending their growing disposable income on luxury, but now they spend it abroad. According to Bain’s report, 70 percent of the luxury purchase happened overseas, which can be easily understood. This segment is more price sensitive; they desire luxury but have the burden of a mortgage, children’s education and much more. The price gap between China and overseas countries due to tax and strong RMB (local currency) could be up to 50 percent. So it makes sense to shop at a much lower price whilst travelling abroad.

A Competitive Market

Almost all the major luxury brands have had presence in China in the past ten years, and the market is getting saturated and highly competitive. Hermes opened a Maison in Shanghai (the fifth in the world) last September, to escalate brand experience. Just several months ago, Burberry celebrated its latest Shanghai flagship opening with an immersive theatrical ‘London to Shanghai’ event. The new store has the first digital brand gallery in Asia.

Not only existing players, but new entrants to the luxury market, need to be smart enough to create a covetable new brand experience and get budget well prepared to make noise.

Location, Location, Location

As reported in CBRE’s retail rent update for Q1 2014, Beijing’s shopping centre retail rents are the most expensive and with a high growth rate in Asia, their cost reaches US$663 per square foot, per year. Shanghai was not far behind with retail rent costing US$518 per square foot, per year. Doing business is no longer cheap in the strategic markets in China. What’s worse, it is difficult for new entrants to get a premium retail space in the key shopping centres or locations, where powerful fashion houses have made deals to take priority.

From China Market to Chinese Clientele

Chinese consumers now account for 29 percent of luxury spending worldwide. New West End Company in London revealed that Chinese shoppers accounted for over a quarter of tax-free sales on Bond Street in 2014. The potential luxury consumption by the Chinese is still huge.

Could it be that the wealth that Chinese consumers provide is not being taken fully advantage of within China?

LCF students involved in Deni-Deni Leather Goods Project

Congratulations to BA Cordwainers Bags & Accessories student Rachel Doerk who has won of the Deni-Deni industry linked design project.

Rachel Doerk’s Space capsule design – Overall Winner and Innovation Award

Deni-Deni is a bespoke accessories company founded by Cordwainer’s alumni Denise Pearson who has carved out a niche in the luxury leather goods market. She has received commissions from discerning clientele and collaborated with industry partners including Topshop Unique for London Fashion Week which focus on the highest level of craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. The Made in England handbag and luggage collection has seen an expansion into premium leather interior design products, which was the starting point for the second year’s project.

The brief was to select an exclusive interior destination such as 5-star hotel, A-list restaurant or millionaire’s penthouse and create a collection of premium leather goods interior products, whilst remaining true to the Deni-Deni design ethos.

Winner Rachel was noted for her innovation with a futuristic collection of dual-purpose perspex and leather interior products/body pieces designed for a space capsule. Denise was so impressed with the passion and creativity of the work that special mention was made to five other students for their outstanding pieces.

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Ana Terauda’s jellyfish chandelier

Charlie Wilkinson was noted for Mixed Media. Her retro stereo player for Rosita Missoni’s eccentric living room utilised molding, woodwork and weaving techniques. Dan Thompson’s dramatic stag antler and leather leaf candlestick, designed for Les Trois Garcons restaurant, Shoreditch stood out for its commerciality.  Sarah English was commended for collaborative enterprise. Sarah worked with a glass blower to realise her pimpled whisky tumbler and decanter designs, which coordinated perfectly with an ostrich skin covered cigar humidor. Bella Kerovirta was noted for the outstanding craftsmanship of her minimalist men’s briefcase. Joe Mangan who created a rabbit fur bag/chess set/magazine rack rolled-into-one was recognized for sheer effort due to his impressive entrepreneurial and PR skills.

Geometric teabag-shaped bags for a Japanese teahouse, a tropical Hawaiian leather tabletop setting for a retro kitchen, a leather clad wooden croquet set chest for a country house, lips pouffe for the Sanderson hotel and a jellyfish chandelier for a restaurant show the sheer diversity of the design work, which all the students should be commended on.

Well done to all the students involved!

Rob Phillips’ My McQueen, Part 2: Working for McQueen

On the occassion of the V&A’s exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, LCF News spoke to Rob Phillips, Creative Director of LCF’s School of Design and Technology, about his experience of the iconic designer. 

Illustration by Rob Phillips: McQueen, Golden Shower

Illustration by Rob Phillips: McQueen, Golden Shower

Last week, Rob told us how McQueen made an impact on him as an aspiring fashion designer. This week Rob tells us about his time as an intern in the creative whirlwind that was the McQueen studio.

In my first year second term of university I was asked if I could go and do an internship at McQueen whilst studying, because they wanted someone who could draw and sew. I felt this was way too challenging but could not resist the opportunity so I went for interview and I was working there the next day.

There’s very little I can legally say about my time at McQueen because of confidentiality agreements and my respect for internal privacy. However, on my first day I was like some ridiculous quivering wreck of a McQueen fan, totally in awe that I was in the studios where so many amazing things had been created. It was pretty magical to be in those studios.

From day one, I was busy and the workload didn’t ease throughout my time there. I used every skill I had and learnt even more. It was an intense high stress environment, long hours and hellish amounts of work, but to be in a place where there was so much creativity, energy and love for McQueen, it was a privilege.
Read the rest of this entry »

8 Things We Learned From Jigsaw CEO Peter Ruis

As part of our Fashion Means Business blog series in celebration of the launch of our Fashion Business School, we managed to grab CEO of Jigsaw Peter Ruis at our Graduate School Festival (organised by LCF Careers), for a quick interrogation… nothing was stopping us from finding out the secret to his success! Here are eight things we learned from the man himself…

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1. Enjoy the journey

Peter Ruis: I can never quite work out how I got to where I am today, it’s been something I fell in to and I was lucky enough to fall into my hobby. And then you find in this industry it’s so varied, there’s so much you can go for that as you do different things, you end up in different places, you learn about stuff and before you know it you get to somewhere you never expected to get to.

2. Everyone faces challenges

PR: You struggle with management structures, you struggle with the sheer discipline of being at work. All of that conventional stuff is really really hard and as you join organisations and change as a person, you have to accept that everything doesn’t always go smoothly. It’s just sometimes about being patient.

3. The right attitude will get you to the top

PR: I think you have to be really enthusiastic, cynicism is what kills a lot of people. You’ve got to work really really hard. I see too many people who think it’s OK to walk away at the first possible moment. You’ve got to love what you do enough to finish the job.

4. Love what you do

PR: You’ve got to be really obsessive about what you do. Just love every bit of it and want it to be better.

5. All fashion professionals should be…

PR: Enthusiastic, humble and obsessive.

6. You can get there with a little patience

PR: I wish I’d known that people that managed me were just another version of me five years down the line. I would probably have had a much easier time in my twenties if I had less of a chip on my shoulder around some of the more senior people in the businesses I worked in.

7. Fashion is changing

PR: I think fashion is going through a changing time, there’s been some quite obsessional comments around the death of the shop as online becomes more dominant. But I really think that’s bouncing back and we are seeing a lot of the pure play retailers struggling a bit more. So I think that there’s going to be a restructuring in fashion around winners and losers, we’ll see some brands disappearing and we’ll see a lot of change at a luxury level. It’s one of those periods where if you stand still you’ll die.

8. We want his job!

PR: I don’t really have a typical day, which is what makes the job great. I could be travelling… a couple of weeks ago I was in Australia for a week, (we’ve got 20 stores there). It could be a very normal trading week where it’s very much about meetings, it could be about product reviews, we could have a catwalk show or a press show going on. It’s incredibly varied!

The Jigsaw kitchen (they have their own chef who comes in daily to cook lunch for everyone!)

The Jigsaw kitchen (they have their own chef who comes in daily to cook lunch for everyone!)

 

Inside the Industry with Simon Ward, Chief Operating Officer of the BFC

On Tuesday night, LCF hosted an intimate Inside the Industry conversation with LCF Head of College, Professor Frances Corner OBE and Simon Ward, Chief Operating Officer of the British Fashion Council, to tell all about his interesting career path and how he got to where he is today.

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Image credit: Simon Ward (Shaun James Cox, BFC)

So how did Simon, who studied Geography at Goldsmiths, end up in fashion?

“I guess by mistake,” he laughs, “because the army didn’t want me”.

It’s true. In fact, so vivid was the five day selection process for a university army cadetship, that a piece on it, which he wrote for his school magazine, became part of the army’s recruitment literature. A little later in life, Simon bumped into an Italian girl (she became his girlfriend for some time) whose opera-obsessed family helped him discover his voice, a voice Simon spent ten years perfecting before taking a job in the menswear department of Selfridges to pay the bills. Following this, Simon joined the British Clothing Industry Association, which he describes as “relatively dull stuff”. He left, only to return shortly afterwards, this time for a role with the newly created British Fashion Council.

All of Simon’s background comes into play as COO of the non-profit BFC. Coming from a military background (his father was in the navy) taught him discipline, and the creativity and demand of being an opera singer gives him a real appreciation of what it’s like to be in the demanding role of a fashion designer.

“Organising the fashion industry is like having a box of frogs in front of you,” explains Simon, who has a huge map of London in front of him at all times when planning London Fashion Week – this must be where the geography degree helps.

In 2010, the British Fashion Council published a report titled ‘The Value of the UK Fashion Industry’ which saliently found fashion to be worth £21bn to the country’s economy. The statistic forever changed the opinions of discerning politicians, bankers and more.

“There are so many walks of life where people are just doing the same thing as always”, says Simon wisely. “Fashion, for all its sins, won’t put up with that. It changes as often as the seasons.”

Simon does warn that creativity must be balanced with business acumen, otherwise one would just be having creative fun. “There’s a price to pay and it’s called hard work” he adds.

The audience was subsequently treated to a short clip, capturing moments from this season’s London Fashion Week (20 – 24 February 2015), accompanied by a voice over from Caroline Rush, a cameo from Imran Ahmed, Editor-in-Chief of Business of Fashion, Jourdan Dunn posing effortlessly, and more.

Professor Corner described the fashion industry as an ecosystem, a joined up industry reliant on all kinds of talent including the development of fabrics. This led Simon to talk about British manufacturing, which is great for high quality niche products, not so much for the mass market goods at high street prices.

He told the audience about English shirt maker Emma Willis who “makes you start dreaming dreams when you meet her” and is determined to increase the amount of manufacturing in the UK.

Fashion can be an agent for all sorts of change and yet, “it has a dark underbelly” said Professor Corner. Her statement was ambiguous but Simon responded by citing Alexander McQueen’s 1996 Dante collection, revealed in a show at a Spitalfields church. “I was uncomfortable with the horns,” he tells, “but the person seated next to me said he was a genius” – 15 years later, the Duchess of Cambridge wore a wedding dress by his eponymous label.

“Fashion is theatre, it’s about telling stories. It’s also an intense industry,” comments Simon, “you have to balance maximising your individuality carefully or you’ll fall off the edge.”

As a graduate in Fashion Journalism, I was keen to know Simon’s thoughts on print journalism, and whether it was a dying trade because of its digital counterpart. “Well once upon a time, they said why bother travelling around the world for fashion week when we can watch it online,” he answered. “Now correct me if I’m wrong but there are now more shows than ever. It’s a similar concept with online and physical fashion retail”.

Simon and his team work hard to support designers. As British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman put it in the short LFW clip, “you don’t get the established talent without helping emerging talent”.

In reaction to unpaid internships, the BFC created the school leaver’s apprenticeship programme. It also launched ‘Fashion Forward’ to help provide funding to talented emerging British designers to show and develop their businesses in London.

In 1992 there was a recession, just as several noteworthy designers were emerging (John Richmond for example) which the BFC felt it simply had to support. After pulling together funding, the British Fashion Council put 6 designers up in the Ritz, told them they’d have an audience and said “good luck!”

Throughout the conversation, Simon touches on perseverance, faith and failure. He’s a self-proclaimed failure, as a student, soldier and opera singer, but he concludes with one final piece of advice: “the bigger the failure, the bigger the lesson.”

Words by Veebs Sabharwal, BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism

LCF Professor of Fashion Curation Claire Wilcox curates Savage Beauty, launched at the V&A

On Saturday 14 March, LCF Chair of Fashion Curation, and the V&A Museum’s Senior Curator of Fashion, Professor Claire Wilcox opened Savage Beauty, the only major European retrospective of work by the late, visionary fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. The exhibition, which runs until August 2nd, is a visual treat and testament to one of the most innovative designers and creative talents in UK fashion history. During his lifetime, McQueen managed to combine a mastery of tailoring and an eclectic range of influences with a relentless drive to challenge the boundaries of art and fashion, blending the latest technology with traditional craftsmanship.

Professor Claire Wilcox, who was announced back in October as curator of the exhibition, spoke on Saturday of her memories towards the late fashion designer;

“London was at the heart of McQueen’s world… his radical and fearless vision changed the way we look at fashion.”

When asked how current students and new designers can use McQueen’s work as inspiration, she stated that many of his designs can be broken down into wearable layers:

“You can look at any small element of a garment and see that it’s enormously wearable and beautiful. It’s about taking aspects of his work as it’s so multi-layered.”

LCF will be holding a discussion event with Professor Claire Wilcox on 24th March 2015, where she will talk about the challenges of curating an exhibition and the process that went into portraying the themes and concepts that were central to McQueen’s work.

Read the rest of this entry »

Launching LCF’s Fashion Business School

Last night we unveiled our brand spanking new Fashion Business School, and we’re really excited to tell you about all the stories and insights about fashion business that we’ve got in store for you, along with a very special Instagram competition.

Photography: Emmi Hyyppä

Photography: Emmi Hyyppä - http://emmihyyppa.com/

The Fashion Business School is a virtual school that will include our fashion business courses and bring together events, enterprise activities, contacts and networking opportunities to get our students ready for the world of fashion business.

LCF is now an accredited centre for the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), a centre of excellence for the British Display Society and a member of the Association of Business Schools. We are currently in the process of applying for Small Business Charter status for the Fashion Business School.

Photography: Emmi Hyyppä

Photography: Emmi Hyyppä – http://emmihyyppa.com/

At LCF we celebrate Fashion Business and the breadth of career opportunities that business focused courses can offer. With this in mind, following the very exciting launch, we will be flooding our channels with fashion business focused content, with top tips and insider advice from industry leaders, as well as discussions around the future of fashion business.

Are you an LCF student with an interest in fashion business? We would love you to get involved in our #FashionMeansBusiness Instagram competition.

We want you to answer the question ‘What does Fashion Business mean to you?’ and show us in image form. It could be anything from a particular trend, press coverage you’ve noticed or been inspired by, behind the scenes at your current or past placements (with your manager’s permission of course), industry projects, or perhaps a person that you feel embodies all things fashion business. Feel free to be as creative as you’d like and make sure you use the hashtag #FashionMeansBusiness. Check out some of the entries so far for inspiration…

The best picture each week will receive a £30 voucher and the competition will run until 6th April, so get snapping!

Photography: Emmi Hyyppä - http://emmihyyppa.com/

Photography: Emmi Hyyppä – http://emmihyyppa.com/

LCFxH&M Fashion Illustration collaboration launches in H&M’s Oxford Circus store

Yesterday saw a fantastic collaboration between BA (Hons) Fashion Illustration alumni and high street giant H&M come to life in the brand’s Oxford Circus store. H&M tasked 5 alumni and course leader Sue Dray with illustrating key looks from 5 of their latest spring collections, which have been used alongside the mannequin displays throughout the flagship store, in the Regent Street window and in a dedicated gallery in the 4th Floor Lounge.  The displays and exhibition are now on show for the 15,000 daily visitors the store receives.

The 5 chosen alumni are Fiona Gourlay, Joseph Larkwsky, Isabella Cotier, Maisie Noble and Adriana Deco and they worked with a various tools to create the beautiful illustrations.  The exhibition was launched with a small party in the 4th floor Lounge where the illustrators were joined by friends, press and H&M and LCF teams who enjoyed the music of the in store harpist, posed for illustrations and received monogrammed H&M sketchpads.

We’d like to thank H&M for giving the alumni and LCF this fantastic opportunity, and for championing fashion illustration and bringing it to a wider audience.

The LCFxH&M exhibition runs until Sunday 29th March at the Oxford Circus flagship store so make sure you pop down and see the work of our talented alumni and pick up some of H&M’s latest collections.

Read more…