Posted Thursday 9 June 2022
A Kingston School of Art graduate, who last year won MTV's global Music Meets Fashion competition, has spoken of her experience breaking into the fashion industry while celebrating her achievements at a graduation ceremony at Twickenham Stadium.
After scooping the sought after prize, which saw her launch a collection for River Island, Lucy Saunders entered the industry as an assistant designer for fashion licensing company BB UK, before working her way up to a role as a womenswear designer. She now works for a variety of sportswear and lifestyle labels, including Fila, Russell Athletic and Sergio Tacchini and has recently launched a new range for streetwear brand size? called Homegrown.
BB UK acts as a licensee for brands, designing and distributing new products and ranges in the United Kingdom and across Europe. Lucy credits this exposure to different labels as being a huge boost in the early stages of her career.
"I've already learned so much from working across these different brands and the variety is what I enjoy most about my job," she said. "It allows me to be a versatile designer, while also giving me experience working in areas outside the design process, including marketing and distribution, which I wouldn't have the opportunity to do if I worked for a single brand."
Lucy attributes much of her recent success to her time at Kingston School of Art, where she took part in internships with Tommy Hilfiger in Amsterdam and Old Navy in San Francisco. "The internships gave me practical experience and valuable connections, while my lecturers really pushed me to think outside my comfort zone, which helped set me up for working in the industry today," she added.
Winning the MTV Music Meets Fashion Competition shortly after completing her studies, with the collection she designed for high street retailer River Island unveiled during London Fashion Week, remains a high point for the ambitious designer.
The 25 year old explained how taking part in the competition opened a number of doors. "I had a lot of people contact me on social media afterwards, expressing interest in the collection," she said. "The industry is challenging when you're first starting out, so it was reassuring to have a platform where I was able to meet like-minded designers eager to bounce ideas off each other and support one another."
Lucy was also a finalist in the Redress Design Award 2021 – a sustainable fashion design competition held annually in Hong Kong. She impressed the judges with a utility-inspired unisex range, taking old items from her childhood and giving them a new lease of life. The collection incorporated a range of upcycled materials donated by her friends or found in her home, including tents, old sailing and scout flags and second-hand garments.
Keeping abreast of sustainable practices in fashion design has never been more important, Lucy said. "I'm keen to do everything I can to widen my understanding of what can be achieved when it comes to sustainable fashion and explore how I can push the boundaries," she added.
Celebrating her graduation, delayed because of the pandemic, has also given her an opportunity to consider what pointers she would give to other aspiring fashion designers looking to enter the industry. "Always go with your gut instinct. If you don't believe in what you are making, then you won't be able to convince others to. Challenge yourself and try to push yourself out of your comfort zone every day," she advised.
BA (Hons) Fashion course leader David Frizzell commended Lucy for her achievements. "Lucy was always a very talented student with a great eye for detail, so her early career success comes as no surprise," he said. "To be working for such notable brands as Fila is a huge achievement and I have no doubt Lucy will continue to make a real impact throughout her career."