Breaking into the fashion industry is the dream of millions, yet for most, it’s difficult to know where to start. How do you figure out what the fashion industry really is about and how to figure out if it’s for you? It is a hard one, the fashion industry is ENORMOUS.

Well, rewind to November 2017, (that seems ages ago!) but only a 3 short months ago we started our TICE Fashion strand… for its 10th year (!) I know! In TICE Fashion, we’ve come across some of the regions most talented young individuals and they’ve gone onto to pursue their dreams. Yes. In. Fashion.

Now for the 10th round, bring on 2018, we meet some young, excited and talented individuals once again. Students from Longbenton High School, Burnside Business & Enterprise College and John Spence Community High School all stepped into the established TICE fashion arena and embarked on their own creative TICE journey.

To start, it’s always best to get to know their mentor, so I’m Jen, a fashion industry enthusiast, I can’t sew a button on and absolutely LOVE fashion business, technology and trend forecasting. There’s more about what I do here. But apart from all that, I think what THE most exciting part of the fashion industry is that is spills into so many creative sectors. Therefore, the first steps of the Insight Stage are all about industry knowledge and the structure of the fashion sector which is important to understand. How do you know what you want to do until you know what it looks like, right? All true.

For the fashion Insight Stage, I decided to structure the workshop like this:

1. Trend prediction/ forecasting/inspiration
2. Illustration/Design/imagination
3. Sampling/Experimentation/Production
4. Retail/Buying/Selling
5. Media/Promotion/Communication

Here we have the 5 stages that showcase the structure of the industry and how it works and highlighting some of the major job roles that the fashion industry needs. There’s 1,000’s of job roles by the way, but I only have a day, so the obvious ones were chosen and explained in more detail.

Our first challenge of the day was focused on understanding a little more about trend forecasting. How do designers pick what’s coming out each season and, what actually influences the fashion industry?

Some very interesting questions the students came up with and let’s get the obvious out the way. I banned the word ‘celebrities’ for a little while… not banned but shelved them for a minute or two as sure enough, the students began to realise where in the grand scheme of things celebrities started coming into the picture… quite literally.

Once, influences had been explored and a sneak peek of trends for S/S 2018 had been investigated we now had to get on with interpreting new trends and actually turning them into weird and wonderful designs. The emphasis being on weird and wonderful as the straight forward little black dresses have been done! We wanted creativity of the highest nature… and we got it.

This is where the designers seeped out, we had some incredible illustrators in the room and they basically ‘just got it’. What really put the icing on the cake, is that they truly understood why designers designed for different brands, different market levels and different market areas of the fashion industry and away they went.

Our third task really challenged the students. This was about production. It’s not a secret that UK manufacture has been on the decline for decades. It’s also no secret that the industry is crying out for people to upskill in these areas. So, we first presented the job roles in production and manufacturing that young people can study for. However, as we didn’t have lines of a production factory or sampling room on hand, we decided the best way for them to start bringing a beautiful illustration to life is through ‘fashion installation’.

This also wasn’t just for fun, it’s also very true that brands globally are bringing new marketing methods into the retail world. Fashion installation is a big deal and becoming a very savvy strategy for the industry to interpret and showcase up and coming trends. Our students therefore had a turn in producing their installation based on the design work they can created in the previous challenge, here’s a few shots of how they did.

Our next task really concentrated on what this age range (14-15 yrs old) probably know about more. The retail sector or shopping… but how does it all really work behind the scenes?

It’s obvious that they know retail, it’s a social part of many a teenager’s life and as our young fashion students discovered, a brand knows this too… very well. Once we discovered brand strategies to entice young people into stores we also presented the future of retail as we know it and what is happening in the realms of VR/AI and more of which will most likely be the jobs they’ll be walking into (if they pursue fashion retail) in the not so far future. This part of the industry crosses over into events management. More and more brick and mortar stores are competing with their online sales. They want customers through the door, and if according to Mintel “74% of millennials would prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than a product” then how do we get people to part with their money?

Put on an in-store event.

Now armed with their industry knowledge, a brand’s perspective and ethos. The groups now tried to think of an event that a brand could come up with to boost sales but also showcase up and coming trends that they could tease their target market with. Some incredible ideas including exhibitions, festivals, VR slides and bubble rooms(?!) were aplenty!

Our final task of the day, this was an exciting one, if you could invite ANY influencer in the world to come to your event (from the previous challenge) who would it be and why? Influencers, as you may or may not know, are an industry’ promotional tool (or weapon as one young lady shouted out). Someone who is ‘brand sponsored’ on Instagram for example, to work with a label and shout out socially, what going on, what’s new and how to get it. It works, in its billions.

So, our groups had a good think. Who was appropriate for their brand, for their event and what would they say to them to get them to come and represent their up and coming season? This is when our 2-minute pitches began.

There were some absolutely fantastic pitches to celebrities, influencers and fashion leaders and the best bit… they all knew what they were talking about. Fashion industry terminology spilled out during pitches and brands were understood, design was understood, marketing was understood. FASHION INDUSTRY WAS UNDERSTOOD.

Welcome to the fashion industry #TICEfashion2018 you were excellent!