Sophie, 18, was a finalist in Fashion Futures 2015. She recently won an FAD x River Island competition resulting in a placement with their design team in West London. We catch up to talk about her high street experience.
Tell us how you got the placement with River Island?
“Last year FAD offered me the chance to go and visit the River Island headquarters. It was an amazing opportunity as I am such a massive fan of the brand and I was so excited to learn more about the fashion industry. We were given a tour of the offices, and then a talk from the womenswear design team. Shortly after the trip FAD announced a competition to win work experience at the RI head office. To enter the competition I had to complete some research tasks and designs. I chose to base my work on the theme “Romantic history” inspired by Paris and Burberry SS16 collection.”
What tasks have the River Island team been sending your way?
“I’ve been involved in research tasks, looking at the latest catwalk collections from the recent 2016 shows, creating mood boards for specific design features, finding sample fabric swatches and designing garments from them.”
What have you learnt from your placement?
“I’ve learnt a lot especially about the fashion industry, and I feel I’ve had a real taste of what it would be like to work as a designer for a high street brand. In terms of new skills the best thing is I’ve learnt is how to design using Adobe Illustrator. This is something I’d never done before, and is really important for designing in high street fashion. I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with the womenswear team, they were very helpful and encouraging and gave me a lot of careers advice.”
What impression do you have of River Island now you have worked there?
“I walk into their stores now and I’m a lot more appreciative about how much time and effort goes into every garment. It was such a lovely atmosphere to be in, everyone works hard and wants the brand to do well. I’m still very much a huge fan of River and regularly check what’s new in stores. Overall the whole experience was amazing and I would love to go back and work there one day.”
You’ve just been accepted to Nottingham Trent Uni. Do you think taking part in FAD helped to get you into uni?
“Definitely! It was brilliant to be able to put down on my UCAS application that I was a Fashion Futures finalist. I also showcased a lot of my FAD work in my portfolio and at my interviews and it was a great talking point.
Being a Fashion Futures finalist also gave me a lot more confidence in my own abilities. It has helped me to expand my skill base and take more innovative risks in my work.”
Do you have any personal challenges you have had to overcome to get into higher education?
“I have high frequency hearing loss so I sometimes struggle to understand what people say and what is going on. However I never let this define me and I quite often don’t mention it to people. It is something I’ve just become used to dealing with. It means I have to be a lot more focused and concentrate harder so I know what is required of me.”
What do you think of companies like Natwest and George who give funding to support young creatives like yourself?
“I just want to say a massive thank you. Without FAD I know I wouldn’t be in the same position I am today. They should definitely continue funding Fashion Futures; it is an amazing opportunity that I’ve been so fortunate to benefit from. Hopefully with FAD’s help many other young people will take that first step towards a creative career.”
You recently spoke to new Fashion Futures recruits at the V&A launch. If you could give one piece of advice to a 16-year-old starting out what would it be?
“I would say don’t be afraid to talk; ask loads of questions and ask for advice. Ask how you could improve and act upon it. Be polite, enthusiastic and take every opportunity you are given.”
Fashion Futures is made possible thanks to the generous support of George at Asda and Natwest. Read more about the 2016 Fashion Futures workshops here.