Amy Bray graduated from our Fashion programme in 2018, returning to education after spending time working in fashion retail for brands including Topshop. As a child, Plymouth-born Amy knew she always wanted to work in fashion - but original dreams of becoming a supermodel were surpassed by a desire to design, and Amy’s final collection for her degree was selected to be showcased on the catwalk at London’s prestigious Graduate Fashion Week in 2018.
During the course of her degree, Amy won numerous competitions, as well as completing several internships. A team of filmmakers and a journalist from the BBC also followed her journey to exhibiting at Graduate Fashion Week. We caught up with Amy after she returned from her paid internship at UK based global fashion brand management company Pentland.
Founded in 1932, Pentland currently own Speedo, Berghaus, Canterbury of New Zealand, Endura, Mitre, Ellesse, Boxfresh, SeaVees, KangaROOS and Red or Dead, as well as being the global licensee for Karen Millen footwear and Kickers in the UK, with a joint venture partnership for Lacoste Chaussures.
During her internship, Amy worked specifically with Canterbury of New Zealand, a rugby focused brand originally established in NZ in 1904, and owned by Pentland since 2012. We chatted to Amy to get the low down on her time spent working on some of fashion and sportswear's most recognisable names...
Tell us about your internship - where were you working and what were your responsibilities?
I was based at the main Pentland headquarters in Finchley. The building and facilities were amazing. I was working within the design pool team around so many talented people. It was really great to be part of such a big company working with so many well known brands.
I was given a brief to solely work on for my time at Pentland, which was to create a graphic collection for Canterbury x ASOS. I had to do a lot of research on not only Canterbury and ASOS but the intended customer, current and upcoming trends, rugby and so much more. A lot of my time was spent creating mood boards in line with my research to create a story before I could even think about designing. From all of this research I started to create graphic print designs. When I had enough print designs that I was happy with, I selected the ones I wanted to move forward and kept pushing them further until I had multiple colour ways and scales of each before I applied them to designs.
I had to create a range ready to be presented to Canterbury on my final day. It was really exciting to be able to actually pitch my designs to Canterbury, but also very nerve wracking. The experience was amazing and I am happy to say they really liked my designs and invited me back to pitch them to the ASOS buyer on a separate occasion. Overall it was great industry experience and I was paid for my time working, which helped to make it possible. I have also been offered the opportunity to return to work with Pentland in the design pool which is amazing.
How did you secure this opportunity?
At the beginning of our third year, we all had to enter multiple competitions as part of our brief. I chose Pentland as one of my options. The brief was to create an accessories range for 100 years into the future. I was chosen to pitch my ideas to Pentland, and ended up winning the competition, and was given the chance to work in the design pool at Pentland.
What was the most important thing you learned during your internship?
I think the most important thing I learned as a designer was to keep pushing your ideas and bringing them on further, right until the last possible minute rather than settle with what you first have - even if you like it - as if you push yourself you end up with some ideas that are so much better.
What’s next - more internships, more studying, or a full-time role?
I have been lucky enough to be offered some great design opportunities, but wanting to stay in Devon does make it a little more difficult. l love Plymouth so much that I'm still here even after being offered work in London, so I am currently looking for something closer to home, while starting up my own clothing label which will be called Amy Savage. Make sure you keep an eye out for what’s coming!
What made you choose to study at Plymouth College of Art?
I came along to an Open Day after deciding I wanted to return to education. After meeting the course leader on Fashion and being in the space, I decided there and then this was where I needed to be and applied the following day.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I hope to have a successful clothing line, meaning I can work full-time solely on designing. Something I would really like to get involved in would be graphic design for football/rugby strips - basically, I know I’ve got a lot of work to do!
Do you have any advice for other students looking to do internships?
Yes - with internships, I know at times it seems like a hassle to relocate yourself for a short while and take that plunge to work for someone, even though a lot of the time it’s for free, but the benefits really are so worth it. I have completed many internships, and done a lot of work experience and as a result I have learned a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and where I want to go in my career as well as picking up lots of new skills.
What made you choose to study Fashion with us?
I came along to an Open Day after deciding I wanted to return to education. After meeting the course leader on Fashion and being in the space, I decided there and then this was were I needed to be and applied the following day. During the course, one of the things I found really useful was the amount of professional development support we had. I wasn't really confident with CVs, cover letters and making contact with industry, but the advice and guidance through our PDP modules really helped me. I even won a placement with Fashion recruitment company Denza from a competition I entered for CV and cover letter writing.
What’s the best bit of advice you have taken from your time studying here?
When going through the design process, it's really easy to stop when you feel like you have reached a good result, but I was always encouraged to push myself further, right up until the last possible minute, and this always brought the best out in me as a designer - and my collections were stronger for it.
What was the most memorable part of the course for you, and why?
It had to be showcasing at Graduate Fashion Week and the lead up to it. It was really hard work, meaning a lot of late nights to get my six outfits ready for the catwalk but I wouldn't have changed a thing about the experience. To have my footwear for the catwalk sponsored by footwear retailer Size? and filming with the BBC were also great opportunities, and I feel very lucky to have had these experiences, which were all organised by the college.