Designing with Wallis: Tia & Imogen, 15

FAD Stories
In the summer FAD partnered with high street retailers Wallis to deliver ‘Fashion Active’ – a week of hands on fashion workshops for 14-15 year olds inspired by the Olympics.

As a result three talented Year 10 students were selected by Wallis’ Head of Design, Jo Collins, for a week’s work placement.  Here two of them, Tia and Imogen, talk about their experience working as designers for one of the UK’s top fashion retailers.

Tia, Aged 15

“My week at Wallis Head Office was amazing. It really helped me to think that I would like to go into fashion styling instead of fashion design as a career in the future. Although I discovered new and extremely interesting ways of designing while at Wallis, I’ve come to realise in the past few days it’s not where my creativity within fashion lies – a process of thought that would have a lot harder without having this experience.

During my week on work experience I was based in the design section, where I was given tasks by the knitwear, dress and top designers. At one point I was designing some dresses, taking inspiration from magazines like Vogue (a main source of my design inspiration) and other times I was creating top designs, helping one of the designers with their project.

At the end of the week I was able to sit in on a pattern picking meeting with Jo Collins, Head of Design at Wallis, and Gilly Hughes a great freelance designer. It gave me a real insight into how the design process works, and doing all of this has left me hoping I could go back to Wallis for a little bit longer in the future.

Tia & Imogen with Head of Design Jo Collins and the Wallis Design team

Tia’s Designs

I was really made to feel a part of the team. My time at Wallis has shown me that the fashion industry isn’t necessarily what it’s made out to be, by the media, like for example in the film The Devil Wears Prada. A lot of the time it’s just a group of people who love what they do, trying their hardest to do whatever needs to be done.

I thank everybody at Wallis, and FAD, for giving me this WOW experience. It’s something I’m really never going to forget.”

Imogen, Aged 15

“After taking part in FAD’s Fashion Active course at The Fashion Retail Academy, I was lucky to be given the opportunity of a week’s work experience in Wallis design department by Head of Design Jo Collins. I was really excited and nervous too as I didn’t really know what to expect.

When we arrived, we were shown around the building and the different departments. We were set lots of different tasks to do from picking out images in magazines and photocopying to designing our own garments and patterns using bits of trims and beading books. I also learnt how to use Photoshop which was really helpful as I had to use it at school the other day. One of my favourite parts of the whole experience was getting to see the materials and prints that Wallis may use in their spring collection. It was really interesting being in this meeting and seeing the different stages that are involved in fashion design.

Overall, I had a great time at Wallis, everyone was very friendly and helpful if we ever got stuck doing a task, and we were even given cupcakes on the last day! The experience has made me even more eager to pursue a career in fashion and it has built up my confidence for the world of work.

Thank you so much Wallis and FAD for giving me this opportunity and showing me the different aspects of the fashion industry. I really enjoyed my time working as a high street designer.”

Imogen and Tia – Photoshop whizz kids

Imogen’s Dress Designs

FAD would personally like to thank Wallis for giving our young designers such an incredible insight into the working world of fashion, especially at an age when it is hard to get industry opportunities like this.

FAD industry experiences made possible by the ‘Making Internships Happen’ scheme supported by:


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