With the TICE Fashion strand well underway, I joined the work experience team as the students entered the Explore Stage on their TICE journey. My name is Mia and I’m a fashion student with a passion for creating and I thrive on my ability to assist others to express themselves.

Day 1 sees us at the Design school at Northumbria University where the students are introduced to fashion graphics and sewing techniques with mentors Jennifer Barrett, Lottie Maddison and Charlotte Liddle. For the students to experience both opportunities, they were separated into 2 groups.

I spent the day working alongside Charly (textiles mentor) where the students learnt how to redesign the white shirt. After a brief introduction from Charly about herself and her inspiration, she explained some of the techniques used including direct draping, which is also known as Moulage.

After arranging the students into smaller teams, Charly asked them to each design an outfit that could be created from a men’s white shirt. Individually, they sketched their ideas before brainstorming and combining ideas to produce a final design which would be draped directly onto the mannequin.

During the creating stage, many concepts evolved as the students discovered how the material felt and handled whilst being moulaged. This is what fashion is all about, experimenting with ideas and concepts to find something new and exciting. It was fascinating seeing how the students developed an individual concept and how that idea evolved as part of a team.

The morning saw many of the teams deconstructing the shirt to create a new textile to produce their final design, whereas the afternoon saw a more conservative approach of altering the shirt to produce their designs.

To complete the day Sally from Wrekreation showed them a presentation about her journey within the fashion industry and how to find an individual style that works for them.

Our second chapter saw us travel to Leeds to explore the Marks & Spencer archive. After a rather early start, we arrived on site and were greeted by our host Caroline, who introduced us to the M&S brand, what the archive is and what happens behind the scenes of M&S.

We had a quick look at the archive, where we discovered how the garments are stored and cared for before heading into the seminar room. The students were given a range of tasks which would test their knowledge of materials and show an insight into how the technicians test the fibres when developing new items.

First up, Caroline asked them what benefits there would be to have an in-house laboratory. This sparked a great discussion where they unanimously said it would save money. They also agreed it would prevent other companies from using the same technology when creating their man-made materials.

Next up they got their hands wet with an experiment to determine the waterproof nature of fabrics. After an initial predication, samples of nylon, cotton and waxed cotton were tested. It was surprising to see that nylon came out more water resistant and to hear their thoughts on how it could be used in manufacturing.

The next experiment required a little elbow grease to test the durability of nylon, polyester and denim. Each sample was tested by rubbing them with sandpaper for a set amount of time. One group had very definitive results as the nylon and polyester ripped in half. When discussing the results, it was clear they understood the fibres used in the fabrics when talking about why denim was the most hardwearing. This was further investigated with the final task when they examined some fabric samples to determine the composition.

Who doesn’t love a bit of dressing up?! The group were given a selection of original garments from the handling archive to look at and discover what materials were used. It was wonderful to see how animated they became when trying them all on. One thing that surprised us all was the sizing; we know sizes have increased as the years have passed but this really opened our eyes as to how much they’ve changed.

Prior to the trip, the students could choose a garment from the archive online, which was then laid out in the reading room for them to have a closer look. White cotton gloves were worn which enabled everyone to handle the garments.

We had some free time to explore the exhibition which further explained the history of M&S from 1900’s through to present day, what new technologies are being developed and how M&S is striving to be the largest sustainable retailer. Once again, the dressing up box was a huge hit!

This saw the end of our day in Leeds but not the end of the enthusiasm I witnessed!