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Utilise the uncovered talents of our youth

In a bid to harness and encourage our country’s emerging design talent, Unique Collections and its new women’s fashion brand Forever Unique launched a competition aimed at university students from a fashion design background. Their task was to design a dress with Unique Collections turning the winning design into a working sample which would be added to the Forever Unique collection for autumn 09.

As would be expected, entry standards varied with some designs standing out from the majority. But the most difficult task we faced was to create a shortlist from the highest-quality designs. It was important that we chose a design that fitted in with the personality of our collection, and added something exciting.

We finally chose our winner from Sheffield Hallam University. Despite being just 19, Sophie Whittam’s design met all the criteria we were looking for. Her designs were clever, sophisticated and she understood the Forever Unique concept.

We invited Sophie to visit us at our Manchester-based head office in April. After an intense day of meetings with our design team and directors, a decision was made to take on Sophie as a full-time member of our design team, such were her qualities. Her portfolio was mind blowing.

The opportunity to embrace young talent and give someone a job in a very difficult market is one which we are very proud of. We feel very strongly about encouraging young and inspiring individuals. The fact that we have a brand to help Sophie showcase her talents helps, but we’re convinced she will become a key member of the Unique team for the long term.

  • Sumit Jairath is UK sales manager for women’s young fashion supplier Unique Collections

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