Jack Slater

Fashion Design - BA (Hons)

Jack proved himself wrong by coming to university, having struggled academically growing up. Now, his costume designs have been worn at the Birmingham 2022 Festival, where he showcased his proud Brummie heritage for the world to see.   

“I used to go on day trips to the rag market with my grandparents when I was younger. I became fascinated by the different fabrics and patterns that all came from different parts of the world, but somehow accumulated themselves in Birmingham. At the time I didn’t realise it, but those trips to the market shaped my future. To this day there’s not much more I enjoy than immersing myself in the fabric stalls. Once I see a fabric I love, I start to imagine the possibilities and what costumes and designs I can create with it.  

I adore Birmingham because of its vast culture and how varied the city is. A few minutes in any direction and you’re in a completely different setting – every corner of the city is unique and different. 

I’ve never been academically gifted, and I’ve often seen this as one of my downfalls. I was always the kid sat at the back of the class drawing so I could avoid doing schoolwork. It scared me. Because of this, university was never part of my plan growing up. 

Now I’m here, I’ve realised university is so much more than essay writing and lectures. It’s about the incredible facilities I get to use on a daily basis, the tutors that advise and inspire me, and the heavily practice-based elements of the work. I’ve been able to improve my writing and now see it as a tool for helping explain my work, rather than a mundane task needed to pass my modules. I feel ready to go out into the industry now and gain experience doing what I love, and I’ve gained so much confidence in myself. 

I also struggled a lot with my self-confidence, particularly in my first and second year. I never felt like my work was good enough but being chosen to work on the Birmingham 2022 Festival costumes completely shifted my mindset. I realised I could make work that was of industry standard, and it gave me an incredible boost knowing my work was of a high enough quality to show to the world.  

Working on the Birmingham 2022 Festival costumes was surreal. I was able to put my own personality into it and represent Birmingham exactly how I wanted to. Throughout the whole process I kept in my mind, “as a Brummie, what would I want to say to the world?”. It feels as though a lot of Brummies aren’t proud of their heritage, or don’t like their accent. I have hope that the Commonwealth Games will change this. I wouldn’t change a thing about where I grew up.

I felt so at home coming to BCU. Part of that was the fact it’s in Birmingham, which instantly put me at ease, knowing I was in the heart of the city. Another factor was the people surrounding me. As I said, I was already apprehensive about the academic side of university and was worried my lecturers would be typically academic and for lack of a better word, boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong – all of my tutors were experienced fashion industry professionals, with a passion for design and wildly enthusiastic about the practical elements of the course. This allowed me to thrive. 

To me, ‘I AM BCU’ means family. It’s provided me with skills and opportunities for the future alongside great memories that I will hold forever.

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