Students’ sustainable stylings impress luxury fashion brand

Individual and stylish garments for the ‘older woman’ was the industry brief set for student fashion designers from Staffordshire University

Cameron's winning collection of outfits

Cameron Williams won first place with his collection

What is great about David Nieper is that they design, print, manufacture, market and distribute all in-house, which is almost unheard of in the UK these days and the factory tour was really eye-opening for the students. Having an understanding of the production process, timescales, costings and considering all that in a live project is incredibly useful industry knowledge.

Rachel Heeley, Senior Lecturer in Fashion

The BA (Hons) Fashion degree teamed up with international womenswear brand David Nieper to come up with designs for a market often neglected by the fashion industry.

David Nieper has been designing and manufacturing “Made in Britain” fashion since it was founded in 1961. After going on a factory tour at the Derbyshire-based business, students were tasked with creating a collection of stylish garments that flatter different body shapes and heights.

Senior Lecturer for BA (Hons) Fashion Rachel Heeley said: “I think it is extremely important for students to get real, hands of experience of working with industry brands that they wouldn’t normally gravitate towards. Designers should be able to adapt to any brief – the students found it challenging initially but have learnt so much by undertaking this project.

“What is great about David Nieper is that they design, print, manufacture, market and distribute all in-house, which is almost unheard of in the UK these days and the factory tour was really eye-opening for the students. Having an understanding of the production process, timescales, costings and considering all that in a live project is incredibly useful industry knowledge.”

Second year students produced designs for four outfits, mindful of sustainability and ethical sourcing, and the three students who impressed the most were announced in a virtual awards ceremony this month.

Cameron Williams, 20 from Lightwood, won the £300 first prize with a collection of colourful designs inspired by his mum using sustainably sourced linen. He said: “It’s an honour to win something like this. A lot of hard work and dedication went into the project and it was quite personal because I used a lot of imagery from family photographs.

“I think it is important to know that there are different body sizes and think about how the customer would feel. I chose to use a lot of linen because it is breathable but also keeps you warm in the winter.”

Cameron added: “It’s great for my personal journey because I want to go into fashion design and it was good to work with a more high end brand. It is important to learn how to interpret and communicate with a company."

The second-place prize was awarded to Jade Campos Mendes won £200. Jade, 20, who is originally from Portugal, explained: “My grandmas helped me understand the market by including what they like into the designs. The collection was inspired by gardening which is something both my grandmas love and I used their two favourite colours, green and terracotta.

“I found the sustainable approach very interesting and it is something that I’m going to explore more in future projects.”

Third place prize went to Himanshu Joshi, 23, from Wolverhampton won £100. She said: “When I heard my name I was in shock! This is a big achievement for me. I came to university not knowing a lot about how the fashion industry works and doing this project has helped me to develop my skills and discover my strengths. Learning about a brand, production, sustainability and different customers has been really beneficial.”

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