Behind the Scenes at Marks & Spencers

2013, Careers + Advice, Fashion Futures

Our Fashion Futures finalists and young FAD volunteers have recently been on some excellent industry visits to high street retailers.

FAD teens with Narinda Leon

The first was to the head offices of Marks and Spencer near Paddington in North West London. A majestic, glass building where the FAD teens ascended in glass lifts to the dizzying heights of the design and buying floors.

Greeted by Narinda Leon, who FAD have to thank for this organising this incredible opportunity, the FAD students were furnished with delicious tea and coffee before being shown into a comfortable conference room for a carousel of talks from M&S industry experts.

Richard Bruce talks about his career to FAD students

First up was the delightful Richard Bruce, designer for the Autograph range, to talk about Spring/Summer 2013 trends. Richard had a fascinating story to tell about his career in the fashion industry, from his time working as a designer at Valentino & Moschino to the challenge of dressing ‘thousands of women across the UK’ for Marks and Spencer.

Next up Junior Designer Jess talked about her experience working for M&S as part of the graduate scheme, and her role researching trends for the Indigo range. Her tip for FAD students was: ‘Don’t give up. Get yourself noticed and let your talent shine through.’ Amy another success story of the graduate scheme spoke in depth about the role of an in-house print designer, and the importance of working alongside the buying teams to create the right product for their customer.

On tour around the buying department

Fabric Trend & Sourcing expert Del gave a lively presentation on her role, talking about the importance of tradeshows such as Premiere Vision for sourcing the latest and cutting edge fabrics. She showed us a sneaky peek of next autumn’s trends, which are moving away from mass market looks to more hand crafted and heritage effects. We loved her moodboards!

Moving from design to buying, Narisa gave FAD students a real insight into the working day of a buyer at Marks and Spencer, as well as dishing out lots of useful tips and down to earth advice from:  ‘If you are really passionate about buying start by working in shops to learn about the consumer and retail side’ to ‘It’s really important to have that eye as a buyer – that line between what’s on trend and what will sell to your consumer’.

Narinda from M&S chatting to FAD students

After the presentations our host Narinda took us on a tour of the buying and design floors, where the FAD teens got to see everyone at work and view some of the samples and next season collections. We also stopped into the pattern cutting room to meet Mark, who has an impressive history working at Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano & Matthew Williamson and now heads up the Product development team at Marks and Spencer.

All in all it was a fantastic morning giving FAD teens a very real insight into the working world of fashion. It also opened eyes to the breadth of careers available in the industry, and the possibilities for different people with different strengths and interests.

The great news is after the visit, Marks and Spencer invited FAD students to apply for work placements so fingers crossed 2013 should see a few of our Fashion Futures finalists learning the ropes in the dizzying heights of M&S HQ. We will keep you posted!

FAD Industry Experiences made possible by the ‘Making Internships Happen’ scheme supported by:

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