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Textile students attend Making It in Textiles event

Fashon and Textile Courses

Birmingham City University

Four final year students from the School of Fashion and Textiles got the chance to learn about the textile industry and woven production at first hand.

Loren Evans, Natalie McComb and Holly Lloyd-Williams, headed to Bradford along with their lecturer, Clare Langford, for the Making it in Textiles 2016 conference. The students specialise in weave on the BA (Hons) Textile Design course.

The conference was organised by the Campaign for Wool, the Clothworkers’ Company, the Drapers’ Company and the Weavers’ Company.

The idea for the conference stemmed from the desire for more opportunities to be available for students to learn, first-hand, about the textile industry from the manufacturers themselves. Alongside other students and tutors from all over the country, there were also experts from the Textile Industry and representatives from weaving mills in the area.

“The long process of producing woven fabrics for endless uses and applications was fascinating and only extended my interest, passion and appreciation for constructed textiles,” said Holly

“Talks focussed on the heritage of mills and weaving within luxury markets, and interactive workshops encouraged us to discuss our plans post-graduation. Both provided a great opportunity to network with the speakers, industry professionals and students from other institutions,” said Natalie

As part of the conference, students were given tours around the three different mills, Hainsworth, Peninne Weavers and Stanley Mills/Luxury Fabrics. This gave the students a chance to explore and further understand the industrial process as it was happening. A rare glimpse into the working practices of fabric manufacture, including insights from recent graduates within the industry, made for an unmissable and inspiring event.  

Holly said: “Hearing first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in these job roles only whetted my appetite for getting out there and exploring what I’m really interested in as I prepare to graduate.”

During the workshop, students were able to add valuable insights and experience from their university modules, Production, Business and Professional Practice, helping them to stand out from their fellow attendees. Not only did the modules assist in preparing them, but they were also able to develop skills in understanding industry requirements, their CV and career aspirations.

“My visit to Pennine Weavers has inspired my dissertation and potentially my final major project idea,” said Natalie

The conference also included a chance for students to ask employees from companies such as Rolls Royce, Paul Smith and Amanda Wakeley about employment into the industry.

Becoming part of a larger community is vital both for students and staff. The event enabled students to connect to the real world, gain valuable 'behind the scenes' insights into working British mills and meet fellow students and industry professionals from the textiles industry,” said lecturer Clare Langford.

The experience was highly beneficial to the students. It gave them the chance to ask important questions, see different sides of the industry as well as potentially helping them in deciding what career path they wish to take. Events like these also give both students and staff a chance to network, increasing possible opportunities.

Natalie said:

“Hearing various designers speak about their own experiences within the industry and meeting fellow final year students from other universities completely enhanced my knowledge and expectations of what to expect and the level of work needed to make it within textiles,” said Holly

After the conference the students had the chance to feed back to their classmates about the experience they had as well as offer some friendly advice: “Keep your eyes and ears open, go for any design competitions, keep asking questions about your goals and your work, remember you’re not in a box, you can go into anything, make contacts and take every opportunity.” The students also highly recommended undertaking placements during the course to gain practical skills that will benefit students after graduating.

Clare said: “A huge thank you to the event partners who made this event so accessible, rewarding and inspiring.”

For more about the event. 

You can also follow via @MiiT2016 or #textilefutures on Twitter.

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