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Dale Thorpe

Head of menswear design, Voi Jeans

What does your job involve?

Running and managing the whole design department, giving designers direction and inspiration, devising, creating and editing the product design direction for the menswear department. I plan and create the concept for each range and manage every design from the beginning to the final production, including trend research, producing visuals to illustrate new products, and working closely with other departments.

What skills do you need?

A love for the fashion industry, and to be hard-working and organised. Being creative is also really important when designing the range and having a keen eye for detail is vital, but also being able to transfer those thoughts into commercial product.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

I love the feeling when a range is well received by buyers and when a design you’ve been involved with flies off the shelf. I also love travelling to different countries researching trends. The only thing I dislike is that I feel Voi, for all the hard work the team put in, hasn’t received the credibility it deserves in recent times.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve always had a love for fashion, particularly menswear, and planned to end up working in this part of the industry. After finishing college I went straight into retail, working at the menswear department for Marks & Spencer and then to Ralph Lauren in Selfridges. This experience helped me to move into a manager and buyers job for Db3, an indie retailer with three shops [in Bolton, Preston and Bury], which helped me understand the commercial market and aspects of commercial design.

I was scouted from Db3 by Voi, and originally started here as a sales rep. However, when I started to show a real passion for the brand, director Asif Bux saw the potential in me and I was promoted to my present role.

What is your proudest moment to date?

Working for a brand that I’ve seen grow dramatically in the past couple of years, not only in the UK but worldwide. We took Voi to trade shows last year for the very first time, and seeing the reaction from foreign buyers showcasing the team’s hard work, dedication and pure passion for this brand is something I’m really proud of. We’ve grown and conquered all our critics to become one of the best-selling brands in the UK. Last year we were the 8th best-selling brand in Drapers [Indicator poll]. I hope we can beat that this year.

What is your ambition?

To keep producing fresh, innovative designs for the brand. Longer term, my ambition is to help Voi become the number one brand in Europe, gaining brand awareness and credibility.

How to you intend to get there?

Good old hard work, working closely with an amazing team, and by continually striving to make great commercial product at great prices.

What three words sum you up?

Hard-working, passionate, opinionated.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Experience is vital. See your first job as an investment in your future career.

Be the best you can be, because you never know when the right person will be watching. 

CV

2010  Menswear head of development and design, Voi Jeans

2008  Account manager, Voi Jeans

2004  Menswear, manager and head buyer, Db3

2002  Sales assistant, Ralph Lauren concession, Selfridges

2000  Sales assistant, menswear, Marks & Spencer

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