“I am confident that this is the industry I want to work in when I’m older”

    I think the most difficult thing for a teenager interested in fashion, particularly from the North East of England, where most young people wrongly still (!) get told you need to move to the capital, is being able to see the wide range of careers in the fashion industry let alone meeting people who have the jobs that they aspire to have or in most cases than not, have no clue these jobs exist.

    Also… in realising the transferrable skills of the people who work in fashion from photographers, graphic designers, or for example, those studying journalism or marketing and how they moved into the fashion space.

    This is what our Explore stage concentrated on this year. It’s important. The most important factor was meeting a variety of people from the North East, that work in a variety of job roles using a variety of different skills.

    Our Explore Stages usually consists of two workshops over two days with the students out of school and exploring the sector. This year, a new challenge, when the Coronavirus hit our shores, we, like everyone, were in lockdown. Fortunately, we managed to do Day One as planned which involved skills development and meeting two individuals from completely different sides of the fashion sector.

    Day Two… well, that was a different story altogether, and probably a separate blog post as to what we did fully but obviously with everyone indoors, we took a similar approach to many and we went online.
    Our approach to online was to continue supporting students gaining insight into job roles and careers. The skills that people have accumulated and the understanding of what people working in fashion do on a day-to-day basis.

    Here’s what we covered in TICE Fashion Explore 2020 with 90 students from 7 North East students: Ashington Academy, Berwick Academy, Bedlington Academy, Burnside College, John Spence Community High School, Longbenton High School and Sacred Heart Catholic High School.


    We all recognise the term Fast Fashion. If you do not, do a little research. It is a massive topic in the fashion arena and our job is to use our time with young people wisely. Start a conversation about issues in the industry that affect them directly but more importantly something they can actively do something about. This is a rebellion generation and it is time to get them fired up about things they can change however they need the tools to understand it and then get active, fuelled with new-found knowledge to be able to express themselves.

    Students getting started with taking old garments a part to form new designs

    To generate thinking about this topic one of our workshops concentrated on this theme with textiles mentor Charlotte Liddle. Charly introduced the concept of ‘Fast Fashion’ AKA ‘Throw Away Fashion’ and the consequences of churning out poor quality clothing. The textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world and to make matters worse, the resulting items of clothing are often swiftly discarded, with the majority being sent to landfill or incineration.

    To remedy the situation or at least an option to consider, the students were asked to consider the ‘make do and mend’ approach. In recent times, many cultures have lost the skills required to darn a sock or to re-fashion an old item of clothing. The students were given 45 minutes to re-invent a garment, with the finished piece to be presented to the group.

    New sewing skills were introduced.

    In teams of 2-3, students set to work rifling through piles of old dresses, skirts, hats, waistcoats, jeans and sweaters; selecting items of interest, then pulling ideas together into a fashion drawing. There was a buzz in the air as the teams worked against the clock. Scissors, pins, hand stitching, as well as sewing machines, were employed along the way. Most designs morphed into something very different from the initial concept. An old pair of jeans when opened out, suddenly turned into a jacket and a gent’s shirt cinched-in at the waist became a fitted blouse. Despite the time restriction, the atmosphere remained calm, relaxed and ‘make do and mend’ was found.

    Fitting and shaping on the mannequins

    “From what we did on the first day of the explore stage, people who are upcycling inspired me the most as it is thinking ahead into the future and trying to help save our planet. By upcycling clothing, we can put a stop to Global Warming and try and prevent fast fashion. This definitely inspired me as I released that there were small things that I could do to help the planet. Also, it was so good to see how you can turn old items of clothing into something completely different and very fashionable. It let me express my inner creative side and it was nice to give a piece of old material new life. It was also nice to see it in good use to be worn again.”

    Student, Ashington Academy

    Introduction to Adobe Photoshop

    In a second room, we had a completely different workshop going on. A different type of practice so to say and a very needed skill in the fashion industry or in the creative sector as a whole. This being the introduction to Adobe photoshop focusing on digital skills.

    Introducing TICE Fashion students to Fashion Graphics

    The workshop was introduced by Leonard Le Rolland, a graphic designer and Fashion Communication lecturer at Northumbria University. Leonard is a designer with over 20 years of high-level commercial experience working with major clients across design for print, publishing, advertising, exhibition and digital media. He began his career as a graphic designer working in-house for several major children’s book publishers, eventually moving into freelance design where he specialised in design for print, installation, and interactive graphics for a large list of clients including Saatchi & Saatchi, Google, Manchester United F.C. and Sony Music.

    Since 2012 he has applied his subject-specific knowledge and experience of visual communication in the Higher Education sector as an Associate Lecturer, on BA (Hons) Fashion Communication and the Fashion programmes at Northumbria University, and at the University of Sunderland on the BA (Hons) Fashion Product and Promotion and Graphic Design programmes and taught full time at Herriot Watt University on the BA (Hons) Fashion Communication programme.

    Students designing their own posters using Adobe Photoshop

    In Leonard’s workshops, the students concentrated on design for print producing a cover for the popular skateboarding magazine ‘Thrasher’. This workshop is an introduction to fashion graphics and Adobe CC, developing skills with a specific focus on Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat.

    “I feel that I have learned new skills in Photoshop, whilst we re-created a poster. I feel a lot more confident and comfortable using the programme, especially when working with layers and how to organise them. After using Photoshop in the workshop, I am confident that this is the industry I want to work in when I’m older, as it has made me more aware of what I would be using and what I would be making. I also feel that I have developed further skills in designing a creating a set of clothes, I have been able to think more creatively about my design, and how we can merge my group’s ideas together, and I have also been able to fit designs and ideas around the material we have been given to work with. Along with this, I have developed teamwork skills, especially when it was coming towards the end of our time limit, and we really pulled together as a team to finish off our design and bring it to life.”

    Student, John Spence Community High School

    Who did we meet?

    Now that’s a great question. We had arranged for 7 guest speakers to come along to our workshops for the students to hear from. But as we know this could not happen, we did the next best thing. Zoom! Yes… the platform nobody had really heard about before lockdown became our new and welcomed work colleague and enabled us to interview everyone online plus a few more!

    15 fashion professionals were interviewed about their job roles in the industry

    Our interviews included buyers, designers, garment technicians, make-up artists, stylists, photographers, digital content creators and much more starring Kirstie Alexander (NEXT), Kimberley Bray (NEXT), Andrea Miller (Designer), Melanie Kyles (Designer), Emma Cassidy (Tyne Tees Management), Joseph O’Donnell (Bella Freud), Lana Caven (Instagram Influencer), Megan Jepson (Fashion Photographer & Videographer) Caitlin Brown (Charlotte Tilbury), Charlotte Stewart (Louis Vuitton), Emily Wade (Hirestreet), Louisa Rogers (Trendlistr), Philippa Christie (ASOS), Rebecca (Trend Bible), Sally Smallwood (Wreckreation).

    Seriously, that was incredibly fun, not only to have a good catch up with some incredible industry colleagues but hearing them speak about their work and building this career was fantastic. It also seems our plan worked as the comments from our fashion students were quite frankly brilliant.

    PS. If you’re interested in hearing these interviews give us a shout about the TICE Programme.

    “[Emily’s] job role appeals to me because I wouldn’t say I’m that I’m very creative, but I do still enjoy the concept of fashion. I also like the idea of renting clothes as it’s more sustainable for the environment and cheaper. Renting clothes also seems easier and fun as you can experiment with new clothes and new brands. I do really enjoy maths in school and it’s great to hear that there are jobs that include maths in the fashion industry as this would suit me better than actually designing or making clothes.”

    Emily, Bedlington Academy

    “Andrea had many travelling opportunities. I think that that would be amazing as she would be able to understand so many cultures and see fashion around the globe. She also gets to draw many designs frequently. That would be great as I would love to be able to express my creativity. Andrea also stated how she saw her designs in public. To see that would be a massive accomplishment. 

    Kayleigh, Ashington Academy

    We can’t let you be bored now can we !?!

    It was all good and well hearing about professionals and their experiences in building their careers, but our online provision did not stop there! Nope, tasks and challenges to enable the students to complete their Explore Stage were added on our private pages and the students had a go with some truly fantastic results.

    This included:

    • Insight into Fashion Education. A fantastic presentation created by Storm Hudspith Walker who actually did TICE when she was young. Storm gave a brilliant account of her transition from school student to fashion communication student.
    • Trend Research for Fashion Communicators.  An insightful challenge to help students understand the catwalk and recognising trend. Also seeing how this filters into high street brands.
    • Trend Research for Fashion Designers. Inspired by one of our video interviews with fashion designer Andrea Miller, who discussed the importance of gathering inspiration for designs. Here we introduced the concept and meaning of a shop report.
    • Fashion Illustration Inspiration: We brought Charlotte Liddle back, our textiles mentor. Charly set a fashion illustration task with a twist, showing some of her work which is more textiles & craft but with a fashion focus.
    • Become a TeenVogue Journalist: And finally, fashion is lifestyle and expression and there are more ways than one to express who you are and what you stand for. Here we gave a challenge that was focused on journalism aiming for articles written on culture, politics, style, identity and much more…

    Fashion Trend Task from Maisie Simpson, Longbenton High School

    *Again: If you would like access to the tasks and challenges please contact us about the TICE Programme.

    Who we’d like to thank:

    So… like very stage on the TICE programme to make it the success it is, it is a collective effort. We would like to thank Northumbria University for providing the space for our Day One of skills development. Being able to use this space and give the students a fantastic day but also a university experience is priceless. Also, the Fashion department at Northumbria, we did not quite get there due to lockdown but when we can, that tour of the department will be one of the first on our list.

    Charlotte Liddle and Leonard Le Rolland for the experiences you gave the students on Day one and brilliant insight into your skills and knowledge.

    A welcome to TICE and a big thank you to Shuna Young, for supporting us on the workshops and contributing to this blog post.

    The staff at Apple (Newcastle), again, we did not get there this time, but we will. Fashion Technology is another one on our list!

    A big thank you to Storm Hudspith Walker for the amazing presentation you created for us outlining your fashion education. A huge and massively appreciated support x

    Finally, thank you to all the people who have given up their time to help out with the fashion interviews, this goes out to Kirstie Alexander (NEXT), Kimberley Bray (NEXT), Andrea Miller (Designer), Melanie Kyles (Designer), Emma Cassidy (Tyne Tees Management), Joseph O’Donnell (Bella Freud), Lana Caven (Instagram Influencer), Caitlin Brown (Charlotte Tilbury), Charlotte Stewart (Louis Vuitton), Megan Jepson (Digital Content Creator), Emily Wade (Hirestreet), Louisa Rogers (Trendlistr), Philippa Christie (ASOS), Rebecca (Trend Bible), Sally Smallwood (Wreckreation). You’ve made this whole campaign an absolute dream.

    Wait, did any of this help?

    TICE-olated has been a great way for me to still feel involved in the TICE program whilst at home. I have very much enjoyed doing this at home as it has given me a break from doing normal school, work to work on exciting things to do with the TICE program. It has also given me more of an insight into lots of different jobs that I may never have found out about as well as asking questions I probably would never have asked before.

    Lily, Sacred Heart CatHolic School

    I think this is good as I would still like to do it and still enjoy it even if it was moved as I have had fun doing it the last times. (Ada, Longbenton High School).

    Ada, Longbenton High School

    I would say it has helped me as I have gained more knowledge about the fashion industry and design work as well as been continuously reminded about what I have previously learned about so that I don’t forget it.

    Isobelle, Ashington Academy

    Thank you, everyone… now that’s a wrap! (a silky one, beautifully embroidered and sustainably made).

    Stay in Touch

    For further information on the creative, design and digital industry workshops provided please get in touch.


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