Fashion interns work on high street
A Portsmouth fashion student who did a placement with major high street retailer FatFace was over the moon to see her design in shop windows a year later.
Lauren Chivers, 21, of Portsmouth, is studying for her BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Portsmouth.
She did a two-week placement with the brand’s design team last year and this summer, one of her motifs appeared on the store’s clothing, which is sold throughout the UK.
Lauren was thrilled and amazed when she saw her motif – a small part of a bigger print design – on a wide range of garments, including dresses, skirts, trousers and jumpsuits.
“It’s not something I ever expected to happen. Design takes place a year ahead of the range appearing and so when I was passing a store this summer I thought I’d have a look out of curiosity, and realised that they had actually used my motifs.”
She said: “It’s not something I ever expected to happen. Design takes place a year ahead of the range appearing and so when I was passing a store this summer I thought I’d have a look out of curiosity, and realised that they had actually used my motifs.”
Lauren returned to university for her second year and is now on a placement year in industry before she returns to finish her studies.
While at FatFace, she was given a wide range of tasks by different design departments and one of these, from the print team, was to develop a series of floral motifs in a woodblock style in two particular colours.
“I did some research into woodblock designs and florals and developed a range of designs. From these they then selected their favourites and I had to turn them into a repeat pattern, alternating the different motifs,” she said.
Lauren created about 20 different versions of the motif and the company asked her to take one of her versions to the next stage, by providing extensive details for a manufacturer.
“That’s only for the first stage of production – I didn’t know that they were actually going to use it.”
Lauren originally applied to work at FatFace to gain some experience and to help win the confidence of other firms when she applied for longer internships, but now says, “the experience has been a lot of help and at every interview, I’ve been asked about my experience there”.
A spokeswoman from FatFace said: “We understand the importance of making the placements meaningful, and we try to ensure that even though they are with us for a very short time our students are involved in real projects. Working closely with the designers gives them first-hand experience of what being a designer entails.”
"We are delighted with Lauren’s success and it illustrates how important it is that students take up as many opportunities and experiences while studying as they can."
Despite early success as a designer, Lauren is unsure what direction to try and take her career.
“The ultimate goal would be to have my own label so I could design everything from the garments to the prints,” she said. “However, this takes a lot of time and money!”
Following her short stint at FatFace and the end of her second year studying for her BA, Lauren took a placement year out with the support of the University’s Creative Careers Centre to experience a wider range of roles in the fashion industry. She has recently finished a four-month internship at Holly Fulton and is midway through a six-month internship at Paul Smith.
“Those companies are completely different so my experiences have given me very different insights into the fashion industry.
“I think I’d like to work in a larger company either for womenswear or print design, as I really enjoy working as a team and seeing everything come together in the end.”
Her Portsmouth tutor Susan Noble said:
“We are delighted with Lauren’s success and it illustrates how important it is that students take up as many opportunities and experiences while studying as they can.
“Student employability underpins our whole curriculum and our students on BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design develop their own individual creativity, while acquiring industry knowledge and relevant skills.”