Fashion Design Graduate, Charlotte Illidge, had a fantastic final year at University, culminating with her Final Collection being shown at Graduate Fashion Week. We caught up with Charlotte to find out more about her journey after graduation, her graduate design role and how she stays motivated and inspired to create fresh content for her fashion blog The Style Archive.
What have you been up to since graduating and showing at Graduate Fashion Week?
I’ve done few interviews about my Final Collection at University, but it’s mainly been editorial shoots with photographers and stylists who’ve wanted to use my pieces. Seeing my designs in editorial work has been really cool! Alongside this, I worked in retail whilst searching for a graduate design job.
As part of our application process, we invite students to attend our Applicant Taster Days. This aims to give every student a chance to experience the day in the life of a Fashion Business and Promotion student at Birmingham City University. Applicants get to meet the staff, ask lots of questions and experience a tour as well as a taster lecture to give them an insight into the content, experience and environment. We want to give you the best opportunity to find out if this is the course for you!
“We want to make sure every student is as educated as possible in their decision making and ultimately makes the right choice for their future. By holding the applicant days, we give them opportunity to get to know us, and the environment they’d be studying in…the real deal! What better way to find out?’
Sophie Johnson, Lecturer in Fashion Business and Promotion.
We asked our applicants on our latest Applicant Open Day to tell us about their experience so potential students know exactly what to expect from the day.
Our second-year BA (Hons) Textile Design students recently had a digital embroidery workshop with Pete Tarrant, of Digitek Embroidery, to develop their knowledge of the industry digital embroidery program, Wilcom. Pete has worked for a multitude of prestigious clients, including Ted Baker so we were extremely excited to gain insight and understanding of his profession, industry links and the resources he uses to create his work.
During the workshop, each student had the opportunity to digitise their design and stitch an embroidery sample on Digitek’s machine, which they kept for personal reference or added to their project development. The masterclass gave our students a deeper understanding of the Wilcom Digital Embroidery Suite and how to successfully direct the program’s capabilities to their digital embroidery.
‘Pete was brilliant at teaching us the vast possibilities of Wilcom. The workshop extended my understanding of the software hugely and I now feel very confident using and experimenting with design, achieving looks I hadn’t perceived before.’
Laura Wonnacott – Second Year Textile Design Student
By Kylie Hill
BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion Student
For two years I studied A-levels in Art, Textiles and Psychology and then a year completing an Art & Design Foundation Diploma Level 3. I left this course knowing I wanted a career in fashion, but not necessarily in design.
After visiting and applying to many universities I decided Birmingham City University was the right choice for me, because of the BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion (FB&P) course they offer and the wide range of topics covered. I was impressed by the breadth of career paths that will be open to me, at the end of this course and the opportunity to work on live briefs with companies, in my favoured industry areas.
Coming from a course that was design focused, I hoped that the FB&P course would give me further insight of the fashion industry, building on the knowledge I had gained working part-time at Topshop, for the past three years. This is exactly what the first module ‘Fashion Business Context’ has done for me! The structure of the module meant it involved students from all backgrounds and really engaged my interest and motivation in working towards my fashion career goals!
By Laura Hyden – Print Designer
BA (Hons) Textile Design Graduate 2014
Guest blogger Laura Hyden recently launched her first collaborative wallpaper, with London-based, interior design studio Muck n Brass. Laura explains how a chance sighting on Instagram led to a collaboration and the beginning of a design partnership.
After finishing my BA (Hons) in Textile design at BCU I was determined to find myself a job in the industry and knew more than ever that this was the right path for me. After 6 months of contacting different companies and trying to get my work seen, I was offered a job as a print designer at a company near to my hometown. I gained a wealth of invaluable experience and knowledge of the industry and also gained a lot of confidence in myself as a designer.
After a year I felt like I needed to extend my skills so I started working as a freelance print designer for a print studio who specialise in designing predominantly for wallpaper and bedding. This was exactly the role I needed to build on my knowledge of creating larger designs that were in repeat to certain manufacturing specifications. The designs were sold worldwide to a vast range of clients and this is how I came to be in contact with Zoe from Muck n Brass.
I am a former Birmingham City Univeristy BA (Hons)Textile Design student and graduated in 2008 with a first class degree in Printed Textile Design.
I later decided to further my studies overseas and graduated in 2016 with an MFA in CRAFT! Textiles at Konstfack University College of Art, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden.
What are your career highlights?
I spent a year in southern Finland teaching at Ostra Nylands Yrkesinstitut Inveon vocational college – a professional placement funded by the British Council Comenius Assistantship Programme. This was my first taste of international education and really shaped the direction of my career in teaching and relationship with textiles (and massively grew my collection of anything Marimekko!)
Nothing really compares with the two intensive years spent at Konstfack in Stockholm. The most challenging, but most transformative. We were a very small cohort of less than 20 students. Here I truly experienced the benefit of a close-knit learning community.
The Events Management module of BA (Hons) Fashion Business and Promotion has been running for 10 consecutive years now and continues to thrive. Its roaring success has made it a resounding favourite module for the Fashion Business and Promotion Students at BCU and with this year’s first event less than two weeks’ away, we wanted to know what the hype is all about!
Events Management is a live module in the second year of the Fashion Business and Promotion Degree, requiring students to work in teams to plan and execute a real life event. Not only do our students carry out this module as a live professional brief, but they start the project with zero budget and must use their entrepreneurial and negotiation skills to fundraise.
By Sophie Hawkesford – Print Designer
BA (Hons) Textile Design Graduate 2014
Hi! I’m a freelance printed textile designer and project manager for a textile design studio, and I want to give you a bit of insight into the wonderful career paths that are accessible with a textile design degree.
I think the title ‘textile designer’ is so easily misinterpreted because it is such a blanket term – people usually assume I just design clothing! There are so many different types of textiles that need designing; technical textiles, upholstery textiles, embroidery for textile application, printed textiles and not forgetting automotive textiles. The list goes on….and we haven’t even considered trend forecasting, wallpaper design and retail application!
Applying to study at University can be extremely daunting, especially when you aren’t entirely sure what career path you wish to pursue. I was quite naïve and narrow minded when I began my studies at BCU and did not quite understand the breadth and diversity of direction regarding creativity and employability in the textile industry.
Hopefully by the end of this post you will have discovered at least one new career path that is achievable after studying Textile Design, and be more informed than I was!
To support your application you will be asked to bring your portfolio to an Applicant Taster Day. As a Textile Design graduate I understand how nerve-racking it can be to collate your work into a focused portfolio, ready for a portfolio review. A well thought out portfolio is your tool to making a great first impression to your potential university tutors, as well as being a resource you will continue to use on your creative journey.
Your portfolio is a fantastic opportunity to show who you are beyond your paper application. It’s about your creative ability and your potential – make sure you let your personality shine through!
It is important to understand that portfolios are subjective so what you choose to include is up to you, but if you’re struggling with ideas of what to include or how to structure it take a look at the following guidance:
If you need any more help or information about creating your portfolio head to our School of Fashion and Textiles website.
I studied Textile Design in the late 1990s, specialising in Embroidery. Creatively, it ignited my interest in structure, craftsmanship and culture, but it also inspired me to aspire to teach.
What are you career highlights?
There are many! My career has had many chapters… An early highlight from my initial fashion industry days, was seeing my embroidered scarf collection on sale in Liberty’s, sharing a table with those of Armani. Later it was seeing the knitwear garments I designed for Marion Foale being showcased at Paris Fashion Week. As my career focus changed and my interest in craft based livelihoods strengthened, spending a year as a VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) volunteer developing textile design education in Mongolia was an incredible experience. It went onto inform my MsC in Applied Development Studies and led onto me re-establishing my own practice again. I now create textile/ceramic art pieces that are made for exhibition and to commission. This year my work featured in COLLECT: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects at the Saatchi Gallery – a personal ambition realised! Developing an academic and practice career in parallel has not been easy, so achieving Senior Lecturer was certainly a highlight.
What are your specialist areas?
A cross-disciplinary practice and approach to craft and design which involves a broad spectrum of textile specialist skills, combined with design and industry awareness which I explore through 3-dimensional applications of textiles. Also, nurturing creativity and seeking to develop confident, resilient humans are integral parts of my work.