First Week, First Workload

So as of today, it has been exactly been one week since I started university again. The first week began with us receiving our unit brief for the term. For this Fashion Theory and Concept Development unit, we are required to create 1 fully styled outfit including at least 2-3 garments and to design a full 6 outfit range plan of a 2D collection. We have been heavily encouraged to compete in various design competitions in order to promote ourselves as designers. In addition, we must conduct a well written Dissertation of 5,000 words with appropriate imagery and self-initiated Bibliography.

Scheduled on our first 2 days of our itinerary, we were assigned to attended construction workshops. The first was how we (re-) learned how to construct a fly with a basic open-end zip. We have been given this particular exercise before at first year, so it was rather nostalgic for me to sew something like this on our first day back.

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The next day, we got to explore some creative pattern cutting techniques by learning how to spiral cut. Some students have used this particular technique during our last project before the summer break and already had an advantage in completing the given exercise. I on the other hand was rather struggling in developing the pattern. I don’t think I have ever seem so many darts in my life! However I did manage to get the hang of it (somewhat) and would like further practice this particular style of pattern cutting, as it is a desirable technique to have.

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Day 3 followed with us presenting out summer projects. This was something I discussed in greater detail on my previous blog post. And last but not least, we had a lecture about our dissertation which included discussing what is expected of why providing us sufficient research advise.  This enormous writing piece counts as 50% of our grade for this unit so its best that we don’t f*** it up!

 

Travel: City Exploration and Inspiration

I love to travel. As a Design Student, this has always been a great source of inspiration of mine that allows me to expand my knowledge and explore new ways to be inspired by cultural references. In preparation for our final year at University, we were given the task over the summer to research our chosen area of specialism within fashion. In addition, we were required to conduct a large amount of research in a city by exploring and visiting shops, retailers, galleries etc. and documenting our journey through visuals and brief written descriptions. Whether it was a city’s architecture, culture, landscape/scenery museums, zoos, exhibitions etc, each place I visited over the summer had various exciting things to offer:

Camden:
During the first half of my summer vacation, I spent some time in Camden. Known for being a London hot spot and multicultural melting pot, I occasionally found myself exploring and wondering around the markets, where a diverse range of food, fashion, people and music created the vibrant atmosphere the lock is known for.
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From goth, indie, vintage, urban etc., the clothing stalls within the market showcased a variety of styles that truly represented Camden as the mecca of street fashion.
My culinary taste buds were taken to a whole new level, where food stands prepared vibrant cuisines from all around the world. There was Jamaican jerk chicken, French confit duck burger, Polish sausages, American mac and cheese, Japanese sushi, Spanish paella and so much more!
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Despite being located in the big city full of people, traffic, noise and the usual hustle and bustle, the area provided some quiet escapes. During the sunny days, I took walks and had quiet lunch breaks at these gorgeous spacious parks to wined down and appreciate the laidback outdoor/nature scenery. One of my favourite places that did stereotypical green and spacious English parks justice was Primrose Hill. Overlooking the concrete jungle of central London, this place provided a great escape for city folks to chill with their friends, walk their dogs and have family picnics.
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Over the years I have been to London many times, but never have I experience the city quite like this. What was once a gritty rural industrial area, this unique and distinctive part of the English capital has become a cradle of creativity for artists, designers and food enthusiasts of all kind.
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Zurich:
I flew back to my hometown Zurich over the second half of my summer to visit my friends and family. Growing up, I got to appreciate picturesque sceneries overlooking the elongated lake and Swiss mountains. During my visit, I explored a lot of places that were closely connected to nature and felt rather nostalgic whilst rediscovering the place I grew up in.
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During my visit, some friends and I decided to take a day trip to the local zoo. Exploring this enclosed wildlife provided an inspirational encounter with the natural world that consists of plants and animals. I was able to gather ideas for print designs, textures and colors. With these different areas such as the rainforest, elephant park, aquarium, the arctic section etc, it was like travelling to different countries that simulated their appropriate climate conditions. This made me consider what type of fabrics I should use whilst designing my garments that would sustain certain weather conditions.
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At a garden centre near the town where my family lives, they had a temporary real life butterfly exhibition. Their wings had all these stunning different colors, shapes and designs, which inspired me on how I would create print designs onto fabric. The ever so delicate butterflies were really all over the place that when you walked into the room, it was like stepping into this natural magical fairytale.
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Located at the heart of the city and next to the Prime Tower (the cities only skyscraper), Frau Gerolds Garten has become Zurich’s hidden gem. Over the summer months since 2012, city dwellers have been able to escape to this Garden of Eden like complex that offers a range of intriguing restaurants, bars, vintages shops, and even an herb/fruit/vegetable garden. This eco friendly lifestyle complex in the middle of the city reminded me how crucial it was to preserve the environment. Eco conscious fashion and textile manufacturing is a topic that I’ve been exploring throughout my studies and a component that I would like to incorporate for my final third year collection.
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Lisbon:
Sometime around August, I decided to get away from the lack of Summer Switzerland had to offer and flew down to Sunny Lisbon, Portugal. I was intrigued to explore a country with so much history with the Age of Discovery. During this European global exploration that started in the early 15th century, Portuguese explorers discovered places such as Africa, Brazil, and Asia. One of the most notable discoveries was lead by Vasco da Gama, who sailed around Africa from Portugal to get to India.

Another notable Portuguese historical moment is the 25 April 1974 Carnation Revolution. Street art on buildings all around the city including the 25 de Abril Bridge (that resembles the Golden Gate Bridge), were reminders of this monumental event that marked the end of an authoritarian dictatorship.
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I was genuinely fascinated with a broad range of Architectural styles Lisbon had to offer. From Romanesque, Gothic, Neoclassical, to innovative modern architecture, the city was able to blend modern and traditional elements creating an overall unique aesthetic.
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Whenever I get a chance to travel into a new city, I make sure to visit at least one of their local museums. The MUDE (Museu Do Design e Da Moda) otherwise known as the Design and Fashion Museum showcased a range of works from local and international artists/designers. During my visit, I saw some exciting installations and collections including the Made in Portugal-Surf, a temporary exhibition that showcased local surfer brands. Another temporary exhibition was by Portuguese artist André Saraiva, showcasing his street art style work and contemporary instillation art.
Its permanent exhibition, the Unique and Multiple showcased furniture pieces and garments from different decades created by notable designers including Christian Dior and Chanel.
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I felt kinda bad for neglecting this blog over the summer even though I said I wouldn’t. However I think that this long post will make up for it!! Enjoy!

Blue Pleats

Hello my fellow WordPressers!

Sorry for my 3 week absence as I have been enjoying some summer time off.

However, I will make sure not to completely neglect blogging and will keep myself busy with some sewing, drawing and doing research for my major final year project. During my first week back in my hometown to visit friends and family, I decided to stop by at a local fabric shop to gain some inspiration on how I would design/create future garments. I ended up buying some fabric and a magazine with design ideas and traceable pattern pieces.

My first garment I sewed up so far is a sleeveless top with pleats on the front and a longer back. Below are step by step images on how I sewed up the garment together:

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1. Cut out front and back pattern pieces.

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2. Front pattern piece.

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3. Back pattern piece.

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4. Sew the two halves of the back together.

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5. Fold 3cm wide pleats 5cm apart from each other on the front pattern.

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6. In order for the pleats to stay stiff, stitch the edges of the folded pleats on the wrong side of the pattern.

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7. Then on the right side, cross-stitch the center front of the pleats.

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8. Add another cross-stitch between the center front and the side seam. (Do on both left/right side)

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9. Sew shoulder and side seams together. Back is now longer than front.

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10. Close up of side seam.

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11. Finished garment.

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12. Close up of design detail.

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13. Garment side view.

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

So on Friday I finished up my 5th and final week as a Pattern Room Intern. Whilst wrapping up my final days at the company, attending exclusive fittings along with salmon bagels and a very exciting sample sale were my personal highlights.

During the first half of the week, I got to attend fitting sessions for the upcoming S/S 15 collection. Ive talked about fittings in previous posts that took place in the Pattern Room. However, those fittings were just for toiles, while the most recent ones took place in a meeting room fitting final made samples on a model. At these sessions, head roles from Pattern Cutting, Design, Merchandising, Production and QA discuss the garments  in terms of approving the finishing, fabric, alterations, embellishment, fit, and whether or not a sample gets rejected. If the sample is rejected, it means that it won’t go into mass production. If a garment gets approved (sealed), they  discuss how they can reduce mass manufacturing costs.

In addition to attending and taking personal notes at fit sessions, I continued with my usual intern tasks. During some filing, I was looking through the dresses archive and noticed how contemporary and on trend designs have developed over the years. For example, 4 years ago dresses where heavily inspired by drape grecian styles, along with frills and ruffles. These days, popular design features include structured silhouettes, geometric, color/fabric blocking and vibrant print designs. It made me wonder what features will dominate fashion trends in 4 years time…

My last day at work was on the 4th of July, which was a very special day for me and fellow americans! So therefore I was already in good spirits when I entered the office. Once I found out that we were all gonna have bagels for brunch, l was even in a better mood and enjoyed my last day even more so (happy days!). The afternoon consisted of preparing for the sample sale (this time exclusively to staff), by helping out with carrying boxes of clothes and setting up. Soon enough, we all got to indulge in some shopping madness! It reminded me of that one scene from the movie Confessions of a Shoppaholic, when the main character is shopping at a designer sale.

After weeks of getting used to my new environment, I couldn’t believe how fast it all went by. Admittedly, I was a little sad when it all came to an end but thankfully it was a very rewarding and insightful experience that made me more sure that would like to pursue a career in Fashion. To my surprise, I was rewarded with a box of chocolates and a ”Thank You” card signed from the Pattern Room people! Getting to know some really nice people and learning about the industry was an opportunity I am certainly very grateful for.

confessions-of-a-shopaholicWhat the sale reminded me of… (Confessions of a Shopaholic)

I still cannot get over how I ended up interning at French Connection. When I look back at the “Sorry but no” e-mails from other places, I wasn’t feeling very hopeful about getting any type internship, yet alone a job in the future…

However sometimes the best things in life happen when you least expect them. As I sit here in my room typing away while eating out of the box of chocolates given to me, I look back at my summer in London thinking about a famous Forest Gump movie quote: Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

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Thank you card and chocolates from Pattern Room team!

A Glimpse Into The Future

Fashion is a fast paced business where seasons move into another with the speed of light. Therefore, time management and planning ahead is essential. Brands need to allow themselves plenty of time for important decisions within the Design and Production process. Think of it like this: Design => Range=> Plan=> Sample=> Sell

Collections are worked on 12-18 month before they are meant to hit stores. During my time, I’ve managed to gain exclusive insight of what’s to come for the brands S/S 2015 collection. Through sketches and fittings of samples with the in house fit model, the glimpse into the future brings exciting graphic prints, finishing design details and overall stunning summer time garments!

Whether it’s the Pattern Cutters using their technical skills or the Designers gathering inspiration, witnessing creative professionals work their magic has been an exciting thing to see. A few weeks back, I was wearing a white crop top that caught one of the Designer’s eye and asked if she can take measurements off my top. This week when I went to hand in Sketches in the Design Department, I was wearing the same top. The same Designer noticed and wanted to show me the sample piece she designed inspired by what I was wearing. It was this cute lace crop top with a zipper along the centre back. I hope it doesn’t get rejected and will be in stores next year!

Otherwise, my usual tasks of scanning and editing of sketches, cutting patterns, filing etc continued throughout the week. However, I once again was able to help out outside the Pattern Room which included working in Q&A, Production, and E-commerce.

Assigned to work to at the E-Commerce Department one afternoon, I got to assist the E-Commerce Coordinator with a garment checklist for the upcoming AW14 and SS15 collections. One of her responsibilities includes analysing e-mail marketing activity on a regular basis and keeping track of sample pieces. In addition to this, she gets to help out at Photoshoots. She mentioned that Photoshoots are mostly done in the building with in-house Photographers. It was nice to get to know another department that I’ve never been to before. Other departments on that particular floor include Web, Marketing, Accessories, Homeware, Photoshoot Studios, Buying, and the Legal Department.

That same afternoon, I got to attend a Rage Review Fashion Show for the upcoming A/W14 collection. The mini catwalk show that showcased Womenswear and Menswear pieces, is typically exclusive for Buyers and Staff that takes place every 6 months. The collection ranged from sequins party dresses, knitwear worn over dresses and well designed coats/jackets. One outfit that made a rather risqué debut on the runway consisted of a long sleeve mesh dress worn with a bra and high waist underwear. Overall though, it was a fun show with good music that provided an exciting atmosphere! It must feel rewarding for the people involved in creating those pieces seeing the garments being brought to life. If they were to look back 1 year ago, those clothes were nothing more than a vision on paper and toiles on mannequins.

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AW14 Range Review

Getting the hang of it

As the end of week 3 of my summer internship has come to an end, Ive managed to get the hang of things and grasped what goes on behind the scenes of working in a fashion brand. By speaking to some co-workers and my boss about their jobs and what they have done in the past, this provided a great way to understand various job roles within the industry and which ones I would consider doing in the future.

Throughout my time here so far, Ive noticed that there always seems to be food around! This week in particular, assorted foods have been brought in every other day to celebrate a co-workers birthdays. Trust me, forget the “Fashion people don’t eat” stereotype. They LOVE food! To quote one of the pattern cutters, the pattern room is the “worst place to go on a diet!” From cakes, chips, cheese, fruits, crackers, dips etc., I officially decided that I have picked the right place to intern..

While completing my assigned tasks throughout the week, I once again got to help out at the Design Department one afternoon. They always seem to be playing music whenever I walk in there especially songs by Drake for some reason.. (They have good taste in music though).  Apart from sticking color swatches onto sheets, my main task was to source selected AW14 garments and borrow them from various departments so the Designer can take pictures of them for a presentation. Going on a scavenger hunt within various floors of the building, allowed me to see other departments I haven’t been to before such as the Buying Department, Web and the Showroom.

Meanwhile in the pattern room, tasks consisted of the usual filing, boxing, scanning/editing sketches, printing off master specs of patterns by using Gerber along with additional new tasks such as cutting patterns for the Pattern Cutters. By using Web PDM and becoming familiar with Gerber Technology, I learned additional features of the software such as how to add information on a detail sheet, sample size chart and grading chart. The grading chart indicates the sizes and measurements of a garment (arm hole, neckline, CB, CF measurements etc.). The brand work with a UK size 10 (S). From this size, the factories have to either add or subtract measurements from the size S to create appropriate fittings for each size:

XXS, XS: Minus measurements from S

M, L, XL, XXL : Add measurements from S

Other tasks have made me become familiar with components within the production process, which I have mentioned in previous posts. For example, whenever I look at a specific garment or sketches from particular seasons, I see numbers and codes in my head. Each garment from the beginning to the end of the production process receives numbers, that keep track of them and what type they are. They are then archived in files digitally and hard copy. First, a garment is given a Base Number, to indicate the pattern pieces and what type of garment it is. Then it is given a Style Number to indicate what style it is from that Base Number (different color for example). Sometimes, old patterns from other seasons have been re-used. This garment will then have an AS number.

My tasks usually aren’t strenuous and don’t require significant physical demand.  However on Wednesday, this wasn’t the case… I was required to help out loading boxes and giant card board rolls into a truck. The boxes weren’t so bad but the rolls were WAY heavier than they looked! (Work out completed that day). Seriously, I couldn’t imagine how heavy those rolls would have been if they still had paper on them!

On the bright side, I later on during the week got to dig through clothes that are going to be at the upcoming 4th of July Sample Sale (YES ANOTHER ONE), and put them aside and to buy them on that day.

While talking to people during my time here, Ive managed to gain useful and most definitely valuable fashion industry advice and facts. Who’s worked where, who to keep in touch with, what happened to so and so, what to expect after graduating etc. From all these different stories, Ive learned some things that University doesn’t really prepare you for or even tell you..

For example, Ive been told that Highstreet brands seem to have standard 9am- 5 or 6pm working hours and usually stick to that (Im working in Highstreet btw). However in Luxury/Designer brands, employees are expected to work overtime (little or even unpaid). This is because multinational corporate Highstreet brands are bigger and produce clothing per season, whereas the Designer/ Ready-to-Wear market produce garments per collection.

At the moment, I am torn with the idea of either becoming a Designer or a Pattern Cutter. Some interesting pattern cutting facts include that companies have basic blocs and set measurements where the Pattern Cutter manipulates patterns and develops them accordantly. I have also been told that it is harder to switch from Pattern Cutting over to Design. This is something I really need to learn more/think about…

One of the most valuable things I have learned is the importance of networking. Whether its getting to know industry professional or even fellow students and recent graduates, who you have as contacts, could really make a difference in your career life.

On Friday after work, I decided to stop by this pop up store near by. The shop was called Monochrome Collective. It was founded by recent graduates from West London College ,showcasing and even selling their garments from their final year collection. I ended up talking to a few of the designers about their work and really liked their stuff! (My advice: make friends and get to know as many people as you can in the creative world). The Students had a choice of either doing an all black or all white collection but each designer added specific design details to make the garments stand out. Check out what they do: http://www.monochrome-collective.com/

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Having gained the insight within this industry that I have so far has made me realised that I have a long way to go, However I believe that the things I have learned from others and myself will prepare me in the future especially when I graduate in a year when I will be swimming in the great deep giant pool competing and searching for a paid Job in Fashion.

On that note, I leave you readers with an appropriate soundtrack to sum up this post:

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From Unpleasant to Pleasant Surprises

From suffering from a heatstroke, to discovering a dead mouse in my room, lets just say that I had a rather rough start of the week… However thankfully the rest of the week went pretty well that provided insightful moments and wonderful surprises.

Tasks at work consisted with the usual scanning and editing of technical drawings with Web PDM and Photoshop, along with some filing and boxing etc. However I was also given new types of tasks and learned some new things. This included writing a production checklist for the Mid Summer 2015 collection. This involved  me going around the pattern room to ask the pattern cutters what stage each garment they were working on was at. Such as whether its in the machine room, being fitted on a model etc. Working on the production development files for most of the week informed me about the different stages and which countries the company produce their products at. They mostly work with Indian and Hong Kong based factories, however other places include Romania and Turkey. I also gained a new skill by briefly learning how to use PDS (Pattern Design Software). Its a intuitive and powerful software designed to work with patterns at every step of the production cycle.  By using Gerber technology, the finished patterns are then printed out and sent to international factories for manufacturing.

On Thursday and Friday, fittings with a model took place in the Pattern Room. This was a very exciting thing for me to witness because it provided a great insight on how the Pattern Cutters and the Designers communicated and interacted with each other. There is a common misconception that being a Fashion Designer and being a Pattern Cutter is the same thing. However it is not. Designers are responsible for coming up with the design, concept, and color palette etc. Whereas the Pattern Cutter is the one who brings the Designers vision to life. They toile and develop the patterns for the garment.

While I was standing near a fitting and asking my boss for a new task, one of the Designers who was fitting a dress on the model asked for my opinion on whether or not the strap on a dress should be thinner or not. At first I was caught a bit off guard because my first thought was “OMG THE DESIGNER IS ASKING YOUR OPPION SAY SOMETHING NOW QUICK!” Thankfully, we both agreed that the straps should be thinner.

Apart from the Pattern Room, I’ve been able to help out/meet people in other departments like Quality Assurance  and Design. I usually have go into the Design Department every other day to give  one of the Designers sketches from the Pattern Room. However on Friday afternoon, I  actually was appointed to do tasks for the Designers. The first task was to copy and paste patterns onto word and do A3 print outs. Then I was required to box and pack away hangers (SO MANY HANGERS!!). When I went to get some more tape to finish up the boxing job, one of the Designers (the same one who asked for my opinion the day before), said that she liked my white Bershka crop top and wanted to take measurements off me. Afterwards we ended up having a conversation and I asked her things like how much creative input do they really have when working for a brand. She said that they do have a lot of input when it comes to the deisngs, theme, color pallets etc, but at the end of the day still needs to be approved by the Creative Director or Head Designer. She even said at one point that if I am not needed in the Pattern Room and if I would be allowed to, I could also help out in the Design Department.  Obviously I’m fully committed to the Pattern Room and especially assisting the Pattern Room Coordinator (a.k.a my boss), but it would be cool to get to know other areas and make the most of my internship!

To mark the end of week 2,  I now get to indulge myself into a bit of World Cup madness! Even at work people have been excited about the games! We even ended up doing a sweepstake bet, where we had to pick a random country out of a bag and pay a pound each. Basically who ever gets the winning team at the end of the games, wins all the money in the pot. I ended up with Colombia and Iran. So far Colombia recently defeated Greece with 3-0. Iran play Nigeria on Monday so we shall see how they will do…

So as the World Cup continues, so does the rest of my journey of my internship that will hopefully eventually  kick-off my career aspiration in Fashion.

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