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A day in the life: Alison Dunlop

Daks’ senior bag designer enjoys the buzz of catwalk season and winds down with some tenpin bowling.

Fortunately I’m quite a morning person so I’m up and about by 7am.

I like to get ready fairly swiftly, have a quick check through my emails and then head to work. I cycle in to the Old Bond Street office from my home in Hackney, which takes about 40 minutes.

It’s a lovely ride that winds along the canal and then goes through the busy centre. I like to have fairly comfy clothes on for cycling, and usually head to Cos and Zara for simple pieces for work.

I like to get on with things as soon as I hit my desk, so have another check through my emails and then start designing. My tasks vary depending on the time of year, so at the moment we’re putting together the designs for spring 14. There are various elements involved for me, including researching trends and colours, sketching preliminary ideas and putting the drawings into CAD format. We have a house check and each season find a new way to render it in a modern form. I enjoy the fact that it’s strict, yet you can develop it in many different directions.

For autumn 13 we laser cut it in leather with woven strips. This geometric multi-textural technique created an interesting graphic slant on the check.

As I’m the only accessories designer here, I work across both men’s and women’s and am responsible for roughly 30 bags, 30 small leather goods and 10 belts each season, as well as three or four pieces for the catwalk show.

This is the first time I’ve worked for a clothing brand, and a number of the designers here come from other disciplines, so it’s great to bring all that experience in to work towards a theme and common goal.

Lunch is something easy, grabbed and eaten at my desk, although we have a great roof terrace, so in the summer we like to sit together and have a bit of a picnic in the sunshine.

I’m very bad at finishing the tasks I start, so I don’t usually have specific afternoon duties - I’m mainly just trying to draw to a close the multitude of things I began in the morning. I spend quite a bit of time with the clothing team to discuss the ideas and themes for the collection and how this will translate to accessories. The drawings go to Italy for the factories to make the prototypes, and I travel out there once or twice a month.

The best bit of my job is probably the catwalk seasons - showing at London Fashion Week is so exciting and such good fun. It’s extremely busy backstage and there’s a real buzz with all of us there, dressing the models. The days are long and hard work but it’s fantastic to send your designs out there at Somerset House and see them on the catwalk, and then in magazines and blogs.

I’m usually finished by 6pm - we have fairly good working hours here - and if I’m feeling energetic on a Friday, I’ll go out with friends to the tenpin bowling alley at Elephant & Castle shopping centre. It’s one of those old ones you went to as a teenager, with disco lights at 9pm and cheap beer! I need my full eight hours sleep on a working day, so it’s lights out at 11pm for me.

  • Salaries for this position range from £40,000 to £60,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)


2011 Senior bag designer, Daks
2011 Accessories designer, Alison Dunlop
2011 Freelance designer, Bill Amberg
2009 Accessories designer, Marshall Bergman
2009 MA in Accessories, Royal College of Art
2007 Diploma in Fashion Accessories, London College of Fashion
2004 BA Hons in Fine Art: Sculpture, Glasgow School of Art

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