The final hurdle before graduation

Third year as a Fashion Design student is tough so here’s a few tips to help you through.

By now you would have all your sketchbook work and toiles done, ideally. There’s always one or two who think they are going to turn into wonder woman or superman a week before deadline day and miraculously get it all done. This is not the case, by now surely you’ve realised that a fashion degree cannot be rushed, you are marked on work and effort, something that takes weeks and months to perfect. When a tutor says ‘You need to do 50 designs by next week” it’s because there’s another 50 to do the week after.image

The hardest thing about any degree is trying to juggle a desperate need to go out and a realistic need to finish the course. It’s hard to say no but once in a while, it’s definitely worth it. Maybe I didn’t go out three times a week or even once a week but I realised that prioritising my time throughout and going into university everyday and staying until the machines were turned off, actually gave me time to do what I wanted to do. At the end of it, I was proud of what I had achieved and I never once thought ‘maybe if I didn’t go on a night out every week I could have done better’.

So it’s January:
Dissertation should be nearly done. Or time for last minute questionnaires and countless thoughts of not having written an essay in years. That’s all it is, an essay, a long essay split into little chunks. After all you’re doing a fashion degree. Your dissertation is related to your course so you should be able to talk about the subject for hours. Make sure everything is referenced thoroughly with legitimate sources. Wikipedia is not good enough and make sure you have interviewed at least one person, I found this helped a lot to get an opinion from someone else that’s not just a yes or no answer on a questionnaire.

Your dissertation is not something to be scared of, as long as it reads well and comes across that you know your stuff and you have stuck to the rules, it will be absolutely fine. An hour an evening is all it needs to be successful. Don’t forget to get it bound, don’t leave it until the last day, and when you hand it in say ‘Hallelujah’.image

Last year there were 19 people selected for Graduate Fashion Week out of a possible 40-45. This year I understand there are pushing 70 students in third year Fashion Design from the same course. This is where it gets tough. Last year we had to present our three finished designs and three remaining toiles in front of a panel. The pressure of what this meant to each student was unbearable and it was an extremely strange day.

However behind the scenes, it didn’t seem like we were against each other at all. Everyone worked as a team to make sure quick changes were done and outfits were fitted properly. Even a few of us were roped in to be models right up until we were told it was our turn, there was no time to prepare and it had come so quickly. It was beyond our control and we just had to wait until the dreaded letters were given out.image

I was very lucky to be one of the few who were selected, a day of tears for all. Harsh really, when friends suddenly seemed split by something out of our hands. I do thank the few people who weren’t successful but helped out nonetheless everyday until the show. So whether your in or your out, it doesn’t really matter as long as you put your all into which path you are given and be proud of what you have achieved.

In March we all came together again to construct the University Lookbook. Something which I believe is a must. It gave me the opportunity to see my garments on styled models, in a professional studio. This is great for your portfolio and is the foundation for your self promotion after university. Ideally you should also do your own photoshoot, whether it be in the same studio or on location. It gives you the chance to collaborate with photographers, stylists, make up artists etc and have a chance to display your garments in the way you want. Collaboration means contacts, an opportunity to expand your networks and get to know people in the industry. Do not under estimate the importance of contacts.IMG_1598

If you are selected for Graduate Fashion Week, the catwalk platform is your biggest opportunity to get your name out there. If you are not selected, be on the stand everyday, push your portfolio and make sure you speak to everyone at the event. Contact magazines and bloggers to be featured, contact photographers and stylists to collaborate and contact designers and companies for potential job opportunities. It is never to early to ask and if you don’t ask, nothing will happen. You are one of thousands of graduates all wanting the same thing, be prompt, be keen and get noticed.

Social media is your new best friend. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can enable you to gain more contacts and allow you to network with the right kind of people. Collect a list of emails and work your way through them, you never know what may happen.

Oh another thing, contacts are useful in the form of sponsorship towards your collection. This should ideally be done at the start of the year, explaining to companies what you intend to do with their product or fabric and seeing if they can help in any way. Or to gain sponsorship for shoes for the catlwalk, being asked to buy six pairs of shoes that you yourself will never wear is heartbreaking, so try and do a deal or gain sponsorship for these especially. Most will say no or will be unable to help but there may be a breakthrough. Mine came in the form of Ykk and Fashionwear who both helped and guided me with my collection. Another reason why this was successful for me was because it led me to my first Job. You really never know what’s round the corner.image

Anyway, contacts… Through one blog feature it may lead to another so however big or small, take time out to answer questions truthfully and be thankful for someone taking time out of their day to write about you.

So good luck with your successes, whether they are big or small, national or worldwide. Put your all into it and never give up, everything you have achieved so far will not continue on its own and it definitely won’t happen overnight. Hard work will have to continue but as long as you believe in your work, success is achievable.