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A day in the life of Vivienne Pan

A passion for handbags helped DC Brands’ design and product development manager hone her craft at LYDC.

Vivienne Pan

Vivienne Pan

What does your typical week involve?
I kick off the week with a morning meeting where I join the marketing, sales, ecommerce and buying managers to analyse the previous week’s sales figures. We discuss our bestselling styles and shapes, and whether or not to repeat them. While most of the time I work on handbag label LYDC,
a proportion of my week is also spent overseeing the teams working on our sister brands Anna Smith and DSUK, also part of DC Brands International.

The remainder of my week is spent with my design team. It’s really important to collaborate with them and thrash out my creative ideas. I manage a team of six people: four designers in Manchester and two in Guangzhou, China. On a daily basis, my two Chinese designers assist in sourcing new fabrics and materials.

Trend research is absolutely essential and something I focus on in the early stages of the design process. I gather information from various sources, such as forecasting websites like WGSN and Trendstop, and trade shows such as Pure London, Mipel in Milan, Who’s Next in Paris and Accessories The Show in New York. My team and I will then compile a concept board, covered with photos, colours and tear sheets. I then develop technical drawings by hand or on the computer.

What task are you most looking forward to today?
I’m presenting samples from our autumn 15 collection. It’s the first time my team and I will see them. We talk the sales and marketing departments through the range, discussing the trends, stories and inspiration behind it.

What task do you wish you could postpone?
We receive delivery boxes each week, which are packed with samples, fabric swatches and new materials. Keeping on top of these and making sure everything in the office is organised is quite the challenge.

What are some of the defining moments in your career so far?
The first would have to be working for Prada. This is where I began my career in 2008 and I decided I wanted to design my own collection. Prada gave me invaluable experience and insight into the world of handbag design. I gained knowledge of the general construction of handbags and the attributes of different types of leather and trimmings. I also learned about potential quality issues and the need to meet industry standards.

Another was launching my first collection for our handbag brand, LYDC London [then called Gessy Fashion], in 2010. We completely changed the design direction, transforming it from high street bling to contemporary chic. We used fewer studs and focused on practicality. Every new collection is a big risk, but this one proved incredibly popular with our customers. It boosted sales by 50% from the previous year.

What has been your career highlight?
Exhibiting our spring 15 collection at the Great British Brand Festival in China. My team and I travelled to Beijing last June to attend the annual event, which is organised by the China-Britain Business Council and UK Trade & Investment.

The aim is to boost the UK’s reputation among Chinese consumers. More than 40 British exhibitors attended and on the second day our collection sold out. We had to replenish stock twice during the 10-day period and sold more than 3,000 pieces in total.

The collection was well received among Chinese consumers, particularly the younger generation, because it was both affordable and good quality.

What one thing would you change about your career?
I’d pick a different undergraduate course, something more fashion-related like fashion design, which would have given me a better understanding of design theory.

How do you see your career progressing?
I love my job and feel extremely grounded right now. LYDC is growing at such an exciting rate and I want to be part of that. We have recently outgrown our current inner-city location and are upsizing to a new £10m development in the Manchester Fashion Centre in Cheetham Hill, central Manchester. The 45,000 sq ft building [LYDC will occupy 22,500 sq ft] is set for completion by March and we have already drawn up plans to create in excess of 20 new jobs across the sales, ecommerce, PR and design departments. For me, this means more opportunities to explore and utilise my creativity on a much larger platform.

Who is your mentor?
David Chen, managing director of DC Brands International. His passion is infectious and he continues to push me in my role.

What’s the best advice he’s given you?
Stay focused. It may take time to achieve your goal, but drive and passion will see you through.

What piece of advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Never stop learning and do not underestimate the small rudimentary things you do at the start of your career. While they may seem pointless at the time, they do not go unmissed.

If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
I love drawing, so I would be a freelance artist. It’s something I’ve always had a keen interest in. I think fashion and art collaborations are particularly exciting. They’re a good way for designers to expand their profiles and push boundaries. Prada is simply the best at this, effortlessly combining art and high fashion with beautiful design. I love the brand’s collaborations with visual artist James Jean and illustrator Jeanne Detallante.

  • Salaries for this type of role range from £45,000 to £55,000 (estimate provided by Freedom Recruitment)

CV

2011 Design and product development manager, DC Brands International, Manchester
2010 Designer, Gessy Fashion (now DC Brands), Manchester
2009 Sales adviser/assistant visual merchandiser, Kurt Geiger in Selfridges, Manchester Exchange Square
2008 Brand specialist (accessories), Prada in Selfridges, Manchester Exchange Square
2008 MA International Fashion Retailing, University of Manchester
2007 BA (Hons) International Hospitality Management, Manchester Metropolitan University

 

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