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Final Year Report

My main intention for my final collection is to create something that is versatile and contemporary as a fashion collection. I have decided to focus on fabrics for fashion as I concentrated on a more textile based collection at the beginning of the last semester and I ended up working with more lightweight and floaty fabrics which I felt were better suited to my designs. However, I will still drop my designs into interior spaces and objects, as well as creating fashion garments to show how my prints would work on both. When I finish my degree, I want to have demonstrated that I am capable of working in a wide range of design areas and I want to have a wide variety of work and a strong portfolio to show prospective employers. My aim for this semester is to focus strongly on designing suitable prints for my target audience as, in the past, my prints have been better suited to a textile collection. Therefore, I will need a broad range of research before I begin drawing and designing.

My aims and objectives for this collection are to create three digitally printed final outfits and three digitally printed lengths in a range of different fabrics, mainly lightweight. I am planning to use fabrics such as silk twill, chiffon, georgette, silk habotai and satin devore for this collection as they are lightweight and suitable for draping. I used most of these fabrics in my pre-collection so I already know how they work with dyes and hand printed processes. However I will sample them for digital print as I only selected georgette and satin last semester and digital print is something I’d like to strongly focus on.

At first my main focus for this collection was animal print, but as my research progressed, I discovered the 4 natural elements: fire, water, earth and air which have now become my main inspiration. However, I can develop further the strong connections between animals and their habitats on earth, in water and in the air by including the textures of their fur, skin and feathers. I am also considering metallics and light reflection which links with fire and water and am strongly interested in including some metallic silks, foils and leathers in this collection.

My working methods will focus mainly on mark making and drawing from primary and secondary resources, which will then be edited on Photoshop to produce designs suitable to send off to be digitally printed. I will try a range of different drawing designs, mixing them together in an attempt to try to make all of my final prints different but keep some similarities so that they still work together as a collection. I want to send off a lot of prints for samples in no bigger than 40cmx40cm so that I can see how they work before I submit my final designs.

The fabric suppliers that I am using are Whaleys and The Silk Bureau as I used them in my pre-collection and I know that they are fast and reliable. The Silk Bureau are one of my crucial contacts as I aim to focus strongly on digital printing and I thought that the standard of their digital printing was perfect; they also have all of the fabrics that I need. Whaleys are an option for fabric.  Although I am planning to focus mainly on digital printing, I may also incorporate and combine some hand printed designs as I enjoy and consider myself quite skilled at printing by hand.

My target audience is probably between 20-30 years of age. I have chosen this age range because of my fabric choice. In addition I plan to use the Balmain Spring/Summer 2015 collection as my inspiration and, as the garments are quite revealing, I don’t think anyone below or above that age would wear them. While the Balmain prints are quite simple, I want to create more complex prints for my garments, using a similar garment designs but taking them one step further. I need to make sure that my print is contemporary and versatile but not too over the top that people will be put off and I need to ignore my own taste and focus on what I think other people would like. I am planning to create some questionnaires to hand out to give me an idea of other peoples tastes from the answers that I receive.

I have now completed all of my research for my final collection and my design ideas have only changed slightly, my main inspiration started with the four elements but, as I thought this was too broad, I narrowed it down to just land. I also decided that I needed a more interesting issue so I chose an environmental issue that is very personal to me; Trophy Hunting. A so-called ‘sport’, this involves people killing animals for selfies and medals, an activity that I totally detest as it results in some species of exotic African animals becoming endangered.

My topic for my dissertation, which was partly about social media and how people are fed information through it, strongly links with my final major project because I was fed information about Trophy Hunting through social media.  As I am such an animal lover, I found the articles fascinating and this led to me using the issues of trophy hunting and animal endangerment as the main topics for my project. However, I needed further inspiration for my print and design, so I researched more African cultures and came across Scarification.  A permanent procedure meant to decorate and beautify the body, African Scarification has become my inspiration for my primary drawings, resulting in my digital designs.

After finishing my three outfits I have now decided against having three lengths printed too, as the cost of my garments alone exceeded my initial budget. In addition, I need to take in to account the cost of extra college fees, having my portfolio printed and buying more fabric for samples. Therefore, I have decided to send off some more digitally printed samples which are still fairly large but will fit 6-8 prints per metre of fabric. I also now want to incorporate some hand printed samples, not only to improve my grade but also to show future employers that I have the ability to do both.

Showing our work at Graduate Fashion Week and New Designers is a crucial part of the degree course. These events give us the chance to show our work to the industry and members of the public in the hope that somebody may take some interest in our work. Following these companies on social media allows me to read updates and get an idea of the format of these events and the type of companies that will be attending. My aim from the beginning of this project was to create a Ready-To-Wear collection that would appeal to organisations attending these shows. I am aware that a lot of students will create garments that are only suitable for catwalk purposes and I hope that my designs will be more commercially acceptable to the high street brands at these events, organisations like Topshop, TU for Sainsburys, Oasis etc. I think that my collection is well suited to brands like these because they are versatile, contemporary and extremely wearable.

Even though I hope to gain employment or a work placement from one of the shows, I have an alternative career plan. I have recently started my own small label selling handmade lingerie and ‘harness bras’ which I have been working on alongside my degree. So far it is going well and I have a reasonably good following on social media. I have also now made my own personal website to promote my products but it also includes links to my wordpress blog and Artsthread. Over the summer I am planning to do a short course in contour design and also some pattern cutting classes to improve my skills and knowledge in these areas. This should mean that I can then create more exciting garments of my own to sell and increase my customer base. If this works well for me, I will investigate business grants from websites such as to help me set up my business and fund the equipment I need. However, at the moment I do not earn enough and cannot be certain that this business venture will be a success. If neither of these career paths works out for me, I would like to work locally or do a teacher training course to teach degree students for Fashion and Textiles.

Internships are my last resort as I do not have the money to fund travel and would not have the time for a job on the side. I am also not convinced that many internships result in employment, although, admittedly an internship would provide an opportunity to learn more skills. I have made an Artsthread account which I think will benefit me if someone from the industry finds my profile and likes my work, as I am able to upload a digital copy of my portfolio on this site.

Although I would be pleased to work for a company, ideally I would prefer to work freelance as I enjoy being free and consistent with my own ideas. I also like the challenge of having a set brief and meeting standards in the same way as I have worked in my degree over the past three years – a format that I feel comfortable with. I could see my collection in High Street stores such as Topshop, Karen Millen, Zara, Miss Selfridge, River Island and Boutique stores such as Lipsy. Even though my main aim is to be a freelance designer, I recognise that working for a company would give me valuable experience and an insight as to how the industry works.

The top ten designers/brands I would choose to work for would be Dior, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Reiss, Zara, Topshop, River Island, Karen Millen, Guess and All Saints as I think that my designs are similar to the products that they sell. The main reason I do not want to work for a design company is purely because of my placement at Pattern Ltd. last September. Although I enjoyed it, I was not convinced that it was the type of work I wanted to do for my future career. I prefer to work in a more flexible environment and I am more productive working on my own. However, this placement taught me a lot and it led me to the idea of using digital print so it was certainly a very useful experience.

I will promote my work throughout social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as this seems to be the most popular and viral way to access and distribute information. My website and Artsthread account should promote me and my work quite well to companies. However, I will still email companies my CV and some digital portfolio pages to apply for jobs in freelance design as this is what I did when I applied for work placements and I received a lot of interest so I think that sending imagery of my work is a strategic way to get myself noticed.

Overview of the Final Major Project

Overall this year I feel that my skills have improved vastly, especially on Photoshop and Illustrator. I have taught myself how to use these programmes over the duration of third year, however during the final major project I have given myself a lot of time to practice using the programmes therefore I have introduced myself to a whole new level of technical design which is a huge advantage for me when I go to look for employment in the industry.

My skills on the Adobe suite have definitely enhanced my ability to create a professional portfolio. In the past I have always struggled with portfolio however this year I sat down and researched other colleges portfolios to get an idea of the competition that I have and to also learn how I could improve my own, I decided that keeping my portfolio very plain and central would improve it as it would draw attention to the important information rather than the background imagery, which has been my downfall before. I am really happy with the outcome of my portfolio and feel as though my entire way of working has completely changed, and has definitely stemmed to a more professional quality.

The prints for my final collection were made from only two pieces of imagery, which proves that my digital skills have improved as I managed to make over thirty different designs with these images. I didn’t want to use too much imagery so that it would all look different as I personally believe that you should keep the imagery and colours of a collection similar to make it all fit. Most of my digital designs are flat on paper but I did get a few samples printed, reason being is that digital printing is really expensive (especially on silk) and I had a lot to pay out for with addition college fees, digital printing for my garments, printing for my portfolio and fabrics from Whaleys, so I didn’t want to use all of my budget on printing digital samples as I wanted to show a broad example of my skills using different techniques such as hand printed samples, a professional portfolio and garments.

I feel as though my prints and designs fitted my brief well. Although at the beginning my ideas were completely different you can see throughout the final collection how my ideas changed and that my prints were well suited to them. My final collection was based on something that I feel very passionately about which was Trophy Hunting, this subject makes me feel angry and allowed me to express this in an artistic way throughout mark making and digital manipulation. My aim was to create prints that support my theme and also represent luxury, which I think I managed to portray quite well. My colour way also supported my theme as I kept it quite dark and simple with a few accent colours to set the mood of the sad subject but to also keep it classy.

My garments were largely inspired by Balmain Spring/Summer 2015, as I liked the shapes and feel as though they are very contemporary and youthful at the moment, which suited my target audience. I wanted to create something ready to wear as I feel like a lot of fashion nowadays is only suited for catwalk purposes, so I felt like I would get a lot of interest in my designs if they were wearable and stood out. There were downfalls of my garments though, for example my black maxi dress became too wide at the neckline so it is difficult to wear and a lot of people would probably feel quite uncomfortable wearing it, I also do not think that I chose the right prints for the third garment and feel as though the imagery should have been shrunk down however I didn’t realise this until it was digitally printed, as everything seems a lot smaller on a computer screen therefore I need to improve my skills on scale of design. My favourite garment was definitely the second dress that I made, as it is so wearable and it was the easiest to make. By making garments this year I have learnt a lot about the technical skills of pattern cutting and constructing, it has been really interesting and I have really enjoyed it, unlike previous years and this is probably due to choosing my own prints and fabrics and also making the garments exactly to the design that I created.

The fabrics that I used for FMP carried on from the fabrics that I used in pre-collection as I really enjoyed working with silks, using fabrics like these completely changed my ideas and I now focus on womenswear and printed textiles rather than interiors which was my main focus for the first two years, and I was never really interested in fashion design before now therefore third year has helped me choose my future profession. After seeing how my digital designs came out on these fabrics I decided that I wanted to further my designs by creating some hand printed samples using similar fabrics. However, I made these samples after making two of my garments therefore didn’t use hand printed processes in my garments as I preferred to stick with either digital or hand print, I was a bit gutted about this as I actually preferred some of my hand printed samples to my digital ones. One of the main reasons I was quite gutted about not using hand print is because one of the fabrics that I used called Sandwashed Satin was really appropriate for my collection as it had an interesting texture and felt like leather/skin.

By making garments this year it has inspired me to make my own designs to sell and start my own business, which is what I have done this year. When making the first garment I felt like it needed to be accessorised with something, so I searched a few things up online and came across ‘caged bras’ which gave me an idea to make a ‘harness bra’. I posted an image of my garment with the harness bra below it and received a lot of attention from friends asking if I could make them one, at first I was quite reluctant as I was worried it would interfere with my studio work but after a while I started making them to sell and set up an Instagram account for it which allows people to visually see my work and it has also gained me public following from free advertisement. I now make more interesting bras and I have received a lot of interest and purchases, so much so that I was able to quit my job and use this as an income, which I found better as it is something that I enjoy doing and also it fits in with my specialist area of womenswear. I have now recently set up my own website for my own products and want to remake my garments from FMP in different fabrics and also do some more pattern classes to improve my skills, therefore my final major project has taught me a lot about construction which I had no idea about before, it has also given me a good idea of what I want to do when I leave, which is sell my own products and do short courses in contour design and pattern cutting so that I can make more interesting garments to sell and get my label more well known.

I only started digitally design in the third year as before I always used hand printing, I feel much more comfortable with digital design and now also constructing garments and feel confident to go to interviews with my portfolio and show off my skills as feel as though I am good at what I do and have gained a lot of experience over the course of my degree, mainly my third year which should impress future employers. However, there is always room for improvement and you will always pick up new skills in the industry.

In conclusion, I think that I made the right decision in the end with my garments (fabric, print, shape etc.) because I have had a lot of interest and compliments on them from people at graduate fashion week and the fashion show which shows that they would be sellable products. I feel that this year has boosted my confidence and also made my work become a lot more professional and I am now ready to start employment within the industry.