Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Grads army

Four supporters of Graduate Fashion Week give their views on why UK design talent is thriving and how to land that all-important first job

RICHARD BRADBURY, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF RIVER ISLAND, SPONSOR OF GRADUATE FASHION WEEK

As a business, what are the benefits of supporting Graduate Fashion Week?

GFW gives us the chance to put something back into the fashion industry. We help graduates keep up to speed with mass- market fashion, as well as offering them a fantastic opportunity to show their work to the industry.

What is your essential tip for graduate designers who are applying for a job?

Once you have decided which brand you want to work for, make sure you present your portfolio to the right member of the team. Let the interviewer know why you are a good fit for their label and ask some good questions.

What are the key qualities you look for in a graduate?

Great creative design skills for our market and the ability to step into the shoes of the River Island customer. You must absolutely love fashion, as well as being organised.

What are the differences between UK-trained graduates and international students?

Many graduates who train in the UK go on to have very successful international careers. Where you do your design training isn't really relevant, it's just about great new talent coming into the industry.

What single thing would you change about GFW to make it even more useful?

Continuing to raise the event's profile will help to make it even more useful for graduates to showcase their work. Many students secure jobs from the event, which is a great achievement for GFW.

ALEXANDRA STYLIANDIS, WOMENSWEAR BUYER FOR BROWNS FOCUS AND JUDGE FOR THE GFW GOLD AWARD

As a business, what are the benefits of supporting Graduate Fashion Week?

Travelling the world to find new talent can be a very expensive and time-consuming business, and being able to support GFW means using the resources that we have here in the UK.

What is your essential tip for graduate designers who are applying for a job?

The key is to present yourself professionally, and the only way to do this is with experience and a real understanding of the industry. If college has not given you the relevant experience, be ready to do the time.

What are the key qualities you look for in a graduate?

Finding the balance of raw talent and creativity with professionalism and realism is like uncovering a precious gem, and that's what every buyer is looking for. It's why only a very few make it.

What are the differences between UK-trained graduates and international students?

There's no doubt that London is a fantastic place to learn, but I'd encourage UK students to spend time abroad on placements as well. Many international students are blessed with easy access to some super fashion houses.

What single thing would you change about GFW to make it even more useful?

I'd suggest a minimum of one year in the industry in order to show at GFW. It's the only way to prepare and hit the ground running after an event that can feel like the most important time of your career.

LISA MONTAGUE, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AT MULBERRY, SPONSOR OF THE GFW ACCESSORIES AWARD

As a business, what are the benefits of supporting Graduate Fashion Week?

It's about nurturing fresh talent in this country. As a UK brand this is crucial for us, because all of Mulberry's design and core production is based here.It is so exciting to discover new design talent at GFW.

What is your essential tip for graduate designers who are applying for a job?

As an essential help for budding designers, we'd recommend an innovative approach to presenting their design work. If an application is relevant to the opportunity being applied for, this helps it to stand out from the others.

What are the key qualities you look for in a graduate?

For a graduate to become a truly successful designer, raw design talent is obviously essential. As well as this, we would look for someone who has a desire to learn about the business itself.

What are the differences between UK-trained graduates and international students?

UK-trained graduates lead the pack when it comes to exciting design potential. They are more creative and innovative, and I think that comes from the great design schools in the UK, which encourage thinking outside the design box.

What single thing would you change about GFW to make it even more useful?

This is our first year as a sponsor of GFW, so we are yet to know if we'd want anything changed. We chose to support GFW because it brings UK design schools' resources to an international stage.

BRUCE MONTGOMERY, DESIGN DIRECTOR AT DAKS AND CHAIR OF THE GFW MENTORING PANEL

As a business, what are the benefits of supporting Graduate Fashion Week?

We feel it is really important that the new generation of designers get the best chance of exposure. When these young graduates get employment, that's what keeps the industry moving forward.

What is your essential tip for graduate designers who are applying for a job?

When applying for a job, you need to think about who you are applying to. Make sure you do your research on the company and keep your portfolio interesting without overcrowding it. Keep your work focused.

What are the key qualities you look for in a graduate?

Of course creativity is essential, and we also look for graduates who show enthusiasm for what they are doing. Finding someone with the potential to develop is also crucial to us for the future.

What are the differences between UK-trained graduates and international students?

We often find that UK college graduates have the edge. Most British courses are very good at giving an all-round fashion education, while some international courses take a more specialist route.

What single thing would you change about GFW to make it even more useful?

GFW is doing a great job, but if industry and education were able to support each other more, it may be possible to get larger government grants to develop the industry as a whole.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.