ASBCI Student Conference – University of Huddersfield, 2nd November 2016 'Fashion (R)Evolution'
The ASBCI student conference for 2016-17 was held at the University of Huddersfield, where Alan Cannon Jones as chairman of the student section introduced a top-class mix of speakers.
Firstly Fiona Graham and Elina Mackevica from Debenhams product technology department gave a real insight into how leading retailers manage quality in their global supply chains. Based in their London headquarters, they coordinate with colleagues in offices in Bangladesh, China and elsewhere. They take advantage of modern systems such as web cams for fitting sessions (using a separate size 22 mannequin for the larger sizes) and 3D pattern technology for new product development.
The next speaker was recent NTU graduate Laura Purcell. She had met senior staff from Pretty Little Thing at an ASBCI event earlier in the year, and they offered the job of Assistant Merchandiser. As a fast-growing e-retailer focussing on selling to 18-25 year olds, the commercial environment is challenging but hugely enjoyable. Quick response from Manchester and Leicester-based suppliers means that lead times can be as short as 3-4 weeks. Over 70% of sales now come from mobile devices, so tools such as Edited’s Analytics are used to help with ‘comp shopping’.
This was followed by a fascinating review of 125 years of fashion innovation from a Marks and Spencer perspective – probably the most influential brand/retailer in that time. Paschal Little had even managed to find a 1950’s cinema clip of a Terylene advertisement (the first polyester, for those too young to remember!). Modern developments vary from highly scientific cosmetic innovation to leading-edge systems supporting sales of 21 million bras per year in over 113 sizes world-wide.
Before the refreshment break, Paschal presented the winners of the 2016 ASBCI / M&S Dissertation Prize competition with their cheques. Runners up were Anna Scott (De Montfort) and Natasha Nutt (Nottingham Trent), the winner being Phoebe Ruscombe-King (London College of Fashion) with her dissertation entitled “Closing the Loop of the Fashion Supply Chain”
Examples of how new computing and IT systems from Lectra are helping the fashion industry were described by Liz Brandwood and Kevin Li. Partly driven by today’s shopping habits with on-line & mobile sales and global supply chains, there is a need for ‘joined up’ product development processes. Modern systems can combine pattern development, 3D design visualisation, product specification & costing, plus critical path monitoring with contract management.
The need for proper oversight of what fashion products are made of was behind a humorous look at ‘Dangerous Fashion’ by Cat Steeples of RH Smith & Sons. The ‘good old days’ (when for example make-up products came with lead poisoning) have now thankfully been superseded by proper testing for product safety – physical and chemical.
The final talk gave a truly international flavour to the conference. Professor Ayub Nabi Khan from Bangladesh gave a fascinating insight into his country’s fast-growing clothing manufacturing industry. It already is one of the largest global suppliers, with exports worth $25.5 billion in 2015 and employing 4.4 million people. There are plans to virtually double this over the next five years as wage costs of $68 per month are among the world’s lowest. The required improved conditions for workers and better national infrastructure projects are also underway.
Overall, the conference provided an excellent range of presentations that was very well received by the students, and perhaps deserved a bigger audience. The ASBCI is looking at other options for bringing first class industry insights to its academic members.
ASBCI Student Conference 2015-2016 – Manchester Metropolitan University, 2nd March 2016 'Fashioning The Future'
The ASBCI Student Conference 2015-2016 was held on Wednesday 2nd March at MMU and provided another opportunity to both listen to and engage with a range of industry professionals. Laura Purcell, Final Year student, Nottingham Trent University and ASBCI Social Media Ambassador outlined the opportunities that were available to student members. Then, Elizabeth Brandwood (Lectra) held an in conversation with Leanne Holmes, Head of Merchandising, Pretty Little Thing, and Leanne talked and outlined the work of a merchandiser in a fast fashion environment. Mark Powell (Lectra UK) gave a presentation on 3D Pattern Technology which included the Modaris software and the use of virtual sampling to develop new products. The C & A Story was enthusiastically told by Paul Dumbleton, Senior Technical Manager, which included the history of the company, why he decided to accept a job opportunity there and how the company have recently "re-engineered" their size and fit across a range of products with the help of Alvanon.
Stewart Milligan, Product Technologist at Marks & Spencer presented the ASBCI Dissertation Prize (sponsored by M&S) to Sarah Proud and Kerry Hogg from Nottingham Trent University and Nia Davies from De Montfort University.
The presentation of the ASBCI Innovation Award (sponsored by Lectra) was made by Elizabeth Brandwood, Marketing Manager, Lectra UK to Chia Nieto from University of Leeds (unfortunately Emma Dane from University of Manchester and Zoe Robinson from University of Huddersfield were unable to attend to collect their Innovation Awards).
The final two sessions of the day started with Diane Waterhouse, Fabric Development and Technical Manager, Berwin and Berwin, giving a detailed talk on the importance of the Supply Chain in clothing manufacture with a specific focus on Men's Tailoring. The final session was another in conversation led by Alan Cannon Jones, Vice Chair ASBCI Student Committee, with Samuel Dougal, Fashion Designer and Tailor. Samuel talked through his first jobs after graduation with Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy before starting his own business making for A-list clients and showing some images of his latest RTW range launched the previous week at London Fashion week. There were lively questions and discussion with each of the speakers and the student's applause clearly showed their appreciation for the speakers.
The free-of-charge student seminar is held for members to highlight the alternative industry routes and great roles leading to fulfilling careers.
Not only is the seminar hosted by established professionals, but also recent graduates and Association members embarking on new careers, sharing inspiring experiences and tips.
A masterclass on creating the perfect CV from one of the North's leading apparel, textile and footwear recruiters rounds off the day.
Details of the next seminar are yet to be confirmed.