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Industry Partner Awards: Inspirational Speaker – Emma Watkinson

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It is our pleasure to announce that Emma Watkinson is highly commended in the Inspirational Speaker category as part of LCF Careers Industry Partner Awards, which celebrates all the amazing work businesses and industry people have done with LCF students.

Emma, CEO and Co-Founder of SilkFred.com, a new online destination for emerging designers and independent brands, was nominated as one of the most Inspirational Speakers because of her constant involvement and willingness to share her experiences with students. Emma has shared her incredible personal stories of success, hard work and the reality of having your own business – giving powerful messages and tips to students who want to follow in her footsteps.

Understandably, we at LCF News wanted to find out what it was like to be Emma, so we asked her to walk us through a regular day on the job at SilkFred. Here’s what she had to say…

I wake up… at 7 and make some coffee. I’ll retreat back to bed to go through the sales from the previous day and check over my “to do” list. I use the Wunderlist app to track my tasks and I only pay attention to my “immediate priorities”.

When I get into the office… I catch up with my team – our Designer Liaison, Charlotte (who looks after our designers), Head of Marketing Rob, and Aimee from Customer Service. We’ll talk about promotions, stock and anything sales related. I’ll then catch up with our CTO, Josh and we’ll talk about progress on new features we’re building and any issues that might have cropped up.

 

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My mornings… are always different and it really depends on what we’ve identified as a priority for the business. It could be overhauling our email marketing strategy, releasing a new version of the website, talking about how to improve our experience for customers or going to investor meetings.

What’s important though, is I try to be quite disciplined with how I start the day. I’ll tackle the most important things first and try not to touch my emails until later in the afternoon or even the early evening. It’s really easy to get caught up in “day to day” tasks and not spend enough time working on strategy or next steps for the business.

Lunch… is normally around 1.30pm though it’s not unusual to have arrived at 4.30pm and have completely forgotten! I usually grab something from Itsu or Pret though if I have a lunch meeting or I’m able to get out of the office for an hour, I’ll head over to Ozone on Leonard Street.

My afternoons… usually involve a bit of over-spill from the morning, especially if I’ve had to take a few calls. I try to arrange any meetings late afternoon so they don’t disrupt the day too much but if I’m in the office, I’ll work with one or both of my co- founders. I love working out how to keep driving growth or, even though it can be stressful, thinking about how to handle difficult challenges.

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I’ll go through plans for new designers joining SilkFred with Charlotte and also highlight some potential designers we’d love to bring on-board.

I’ll also go through our social media accounts. Our main sales channels are via social media. We’ve grown our Facebook fans from 3,000 in Jan to 115,000 in just seven months. Currently we’re applying the same attack with Instagram, Twitter and Google ads so it’s important to stay on top of our efforts across the different channels.

Charlotte and I will also have a Diet Coke/ coffee break to get us through to the end of the day!

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I leave the office… at 7pm but there have been times where I’ve stayed until the early hours of the morning. I once slept in the boardroom!

It’s hard to pin down a time I actually stop working, as I’ll work on emails on the bus home (I’ll jump in a cab if it’s late!) and then well into the evening. I’ll spend some time on the phone to my co-founder Stephen, going through the day’s sales and plans for the rest of the week.

In the evening… I’d like to say I make it to the gym, but that’s wishful thinking! If I’m staying in I’ll put on some music, bash through my emails and read for an hour. I just finished reading Last Exit to Brooklyn (brilliant but miserable) and I’ll sometimes read business style books like, Peter Thiel’s Zero to One.

I like to catch up with friends over dinner and wine – I grew up in Spain where I met my best friends and I’m lucky enough to have them here in London. We work in totally different industries (fashion, art, hospitality, marketing) so it’s great to hear what they are up to. We’ll share the thrills and spills of being a twenty something in London. It’s really important to surround yourself with good people and they can help you put things in perspective when things feel a little difficult.

I’m not particularly great in the kitchen so if I’m at home, I’ll just pick something up on the way home (there’s a great Italian café/ deli near my house that has an amazing salad and hot food counter) or if I’m feeling naughty I love getting a burger from Five Guys!

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If I’m having dinner with my friends, we’ll go to Mr Buckley’s or head over to Broadway Market. We also really like Ceviche in Soho. Anything with lots of tapas style sharing plates with a few healthy options.

My favourite part of what I do… is working with the designers, promoting their brands, working out the best ways to sell lots of products for them, hearing about their plans for the future, helping them out with other challenges in their business. I think being independent is a really powerful thing and this is why I support the designers who’ve made the choice to go it alone.

My advice to those who want to follow in my footsteps… Go work for someone else! Try working at a big company, small company or a start-up. Learn as much as possible and always be hungry for opportunities. Nothing can fully prepare you the first time you set up a business, but arm yourself with as much experience as possible. When I finished university I had a very different idea of what role I wanted to eventually take on, it was only through trying different things and working out what was right (and wrong!) for me!

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Businesses should offer work experience to students because… we all have to start somewhere. Companies also have a lot to gain from working with students, especially if the student has been learning about something that allows them to contribute in a meaningful way.

The students I’ve taken on from LCF on placement were… brilliant! They came with a willingness to take on any task given to them and to learn as much as possible.

We would like to say a huge congratulations to Emma for her amazing work, and we look forward to working with her again in the future.

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Neal’s Yard Annual Lecture 2014: Fresh Thinking for a Sustainable Future

Last night’s second annual Neal’s Yard lecture saw social science, psychology and economics bring new perspectives to LCF’s continuing search for creative solutions to the issue of sustainability.

Take one leading authority on social and economic history, a psychiatrist specialising in behavioural addiction and an insightful audience and you can play privy to some very profound solutions to our fast fashion consumer culture.

‘Rethinking how we think and the wider implication of our decisions and actions’ was the underlying thought for the lecture. With this in mind, psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones took to the floor and discussed impulse buying.

While we don’t all have shopping addictions, most of us have been guilty of impulsive purchases at points of stress and sadness. Apparently 70% of people suffering with Compulsive Buying Disorder reported feelings of depression prior to its onset and 41% noted anxiety disorder.

A facepalm is the standard response on getting those metallic animal-print leggings home but do we ever question why we really bought them in the first place? Sometimes the garment just looked good on the mannequin but in such a stressful modern age, sometimes we’re looking for little highs wherever we can.

Bowden-Jones uses cognitive behavioural therapy – the rewiring of thinking and behavioural habits – as treatment for compulsive spending. Stimulus control such as cutting up credit cards and shopping under supervision may bring tears to the eyes or seem a little extreme, but finding more meaningful ways to pass our time and deal with difficult feelings is something we could all consider.

“If you find things that are really good for you mentally, that are really positive for your life, the lives of those around you and are constructive intellectually or emotionally, then that’s the best way to get out of a situation that is a compulsive addiction…” Henrietta Bowden-Jones

Of course there is the issue of inflated supply as well as demand. Professor Avner Offer from the University of Oxford explained increasing affluence and innovation has undermined our self-control. Yes the wealth of shops and convenience of the Internet may satisfy our needs for instant gratification but do they make us happy in the long run?

Apparently not, the ‘Paradox of Happiness’, shows we may be earning more money but overall happiness remains stagnant. Not only does the abundance of cheap, fast fashion mean we have become desensitised to the highs of shopping (once ‘retail therapy’) but we’ve become disconnected from the joys of fashion itself. As a member of the audience said: “women aren’t being made to feel special”. Heavily influenced by marketing and advertising, our impulse purchases lack individuality, self-expression and quality, leading to unfulfillment in the long-term.

“How can we best use our purchasing power? How can we get the most psyche satisfaction out of our purchasing power? Succumbing to impulse is self-defeating.” – Avner Offer

“I like the idea of using fashion to empower women. In terms of self-confidence, there are a number of women who are currently finding fashion an obstacle rather than a pleasure and not necessarily a mode of self-expression but almost something that’s imposed upon them.” – Henrietta Bowden-Jones

The global and environmental impact of fast fashion must be considered but there are also personal benefits to slowing consumption. This creates great marketing and branding opportunities for slow fashion: “craft over mass-production”, quality over quantity and individuality over ubiquity. Dr Offer argued:

“Fashion in itself is a short-term phenomenon and what this means is that radical change is possible…This is one area where consciousness forming can have quite a powerful influence and there is scope for creativity of various kinds, not only the creativity that goes into the garment but also the creativity that goes into the culture”.

Professor Frances Corner questioned whether the democratisation of fashion has also led to its casualisation and is there some way we can reconsider how we dress. While Caryn Franklin, co-founder of the diversity campaign All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, picked up on the tailoring potential of slow fashion and the body-confidence it can provide:

“Could fashion effectively provide an answer where it’s introducing empathy for the end user who isn’t model shaped, who’s individual and who needs to be catered for in a much more thoughtful way than is currently happening in fashion?”

As the fast fashion juggernaut continues to spin, it was empowering to hear so many insightful ideas as to how we can reconsider our individual shopping habits. But perhaps we lost sight of why such action was necessary. Sustainability is bigger than the fashion industry. It’s about humanity, the environment, the future and as one audience member said:

“It’s about people thinking as citizens and not as consumers.”

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LCF help ‘make the world better with a sweater’ for Christmas Jumper Day

Save the Children Christmas Jumpers Save the Children Christmas Jumpers Save the Children Christmas Jumpers Save the Children Christmas Jumpers Save the Children Christmas Jumpers

We’re starting to feel festive here at LCF News, the weather is getting crisp, the woollies are out, and copious amounts of hot drinks are being consumed, so what could be better to get us even more in the mood than Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day!

Once again the charity is taking Christmas Jumper Day to all new fashion heights with a Secret Christmas Jumper sale – a brand-new collection of 30 one-off festive sweaters hand-knitted by Wool and the Gang and customised by, not only a host of world famous British designers, but also 15 LCF students and alumni.

Our talented LCF designers will see their work on sale alongside the likes of David Koma, Giles Deacon, Haizhen Wang, Jonathan Saunders, Lyle & Scott, Pringle of Scotland, and many more, but can you guess who’s is who’s?

The jumpers will be sold on AtterleyRoad.com and because the designers and fashion students have all secretly sewn labels onto the inside of the jumpers, you won’t know who has designed your jumper until you have purchased it. All very exciting!

This year Save The Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day is taking place on Friday 12 December, and all the money raised will go towards helping the most vulnerable children in the world. It’s all for a good cause and whoever’s jumper you take home, it’s bound to be wonderful. Check out all of the jumpers above and get choosing yours!

 

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Fleur of England selects BA Fashion Contour designs

Doily moodboard by Jacelyn Chua, BA (Hons) Fashion Contour Range by Jacelyn Chua, BA (Hons) Fashion Contour Range by Jasmine Hussona, BA (Hons) Fashion Contour Moodboard by Faith-Rowan Leeves, BA (Hons) Fashion Contour Wimbledon range by Shannon Tara, BA (Hons) Fashion Contour Lollipop range by Danielle, BA (Hons) Fashion Contour

LCF’s BA (Hons) Fashion Contour students have been working with Fleur of England to create new swimwear ranges which reflect the brand’s focus on exquisite design.

Last week, the students presented their ranges to founder Fleur Turner who gave her expert feedback and selected which designs should go forward to the making stage.

The contour designers were tasked with considering: How would you interpret the key values of Fleurs’ brand ethos into a capsule swimwear range? They were asked to include swimsuits, bikinis, and resort and loungewear for SS15, considering both soft, unstructured pieces, as well as more supportive designs incorporating underwires and moulded cups.

The students took their inspiration from a wide range of ideas, images and items. Jacelyn Chua, created feminine designs based on the intricacies of the doily, whilst Faith-Rowan Leaves drew on natural elements to inspire her ranges. Have a peek at some of the students’ work above.

The work presented to Fleur consisted of moodboards, fashion illustrations, range plans and research into the Fleur of England brand.

LCF News looks forward to seeing some of the amazing designs realised.

 

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Video: Widening Participation are Green Gown Awards Finalists

Last week, six LCF projects went up against the biggest and best sustainable initiatives within Higher Education at the Green Gown Awards. Carole Morrison of The Widening Participation team attended the ceremony, representing two of their incredible projects: ‘Bags for Life‘ and the ‘Happy Crafters’ workshops at St Joseph’s Hospice.

The Widening Participation team had their work recognised in the Social Responsibility category. LCF also made it to the finals of five other categories – and the teams won even further recognition for their work in sustainable areas.

Here, filmmaker Victoria Burns goes inside these essential projects which really show how fashion can mean better lives.

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