After graduating from Nottingham Trent University, Amy Carter felt ready to pursue a career in the knitwear industry. Armed with the technical skills, creativity and passion, Amy landed a position British Knitwear brand John Smedley. Responsible for heading up designer collaborations and showcasing these at international fashion weeks, Amy has exploded onto the knitwear scene.
We caught up with the designer to hear more about the differing challenges that you approach in education and the work place, why graduation was exhilarating and why you should make the most of the freedom.
Which university did you attend, and what is the most valuable thing that you learnt there?
I attended Nottingham Trent University where I studied the Fashion Knitwear Design & Knitted Textiles course. The most valuable thing I learnt was the process of producing a knitted garment; from designing the garment & fabric to the final manufacture. By creating your own collection you really learn about every aspect of the design process which has given me a better understanding of production within the industry.
Graduate Fashion Week provides a platform for emerging fashion graduates to showcase their work regardless of the specific discipline. Which area of the industry have you chosen to pursue, and what informed this choice?
As I specialised in Knitwear Design at university, I am currently working within the knitwear industry. As it is a very specific area to train in, the skills I have learnt and developed at university have given me the knowledge and confidence to pursue a career in knitwear.
Tell us a bit more about your career journey since showing at Graduate Fashion Week.
Since showing at Graduate Fashion Week I have started working for the British knitwear brand John Smedley. I work on the specials projects for the brand – collaborating with up and coming designers in the fashion industry to produce knitted garments which are then shown at fashion shows around the world. This collaboration with the brand gives the designers the opportunity to work with a well known, quality British manufacturer and produce designs which are very different from the existing John Smedley range. It’s great to see the success & press the designers receive that may not have been achievable without the support of the John Smedley collaborations.
How have you found life in the industry?
As I carried out a placement year during my time at university I had gained an idea of life within the fashion industry. This prepared me for what to expect once I graduated and allowed an easier transition between university and life within the industry. It is a big change from university life, as you are creating garments for specific market ranges with limitations that you may not come across at university level, for example price of manufacture, machinery capacity and design restrictions. It has taken time to adjust however I love working within the fashion knitwear industry and I am still developing and learning new skills which I hope to do throughout my career.
Do you explore any political, social or historical notions through your work? If so, what messages do you hope to convey?
I didn’t personally explore any of these notions through my work however I do feel like it is important to explore these areas and send messages through the use of fashion.
Where are you hoping to be in five years time?
This is always a difficult question to answer, as a graduate you have spent most of your life in education with each year planned out with graduation becoming the final milestone. I would like to learn as much as possible within the next 5 years, I think it’s really important to keep up to date with current trends and what is happening within the industry. Without sounding cliché see where that takes me, as scary as it is coming out of education it’s also very exciting as you have the freedom to do anything you wish.
Many say that the industry is undergoing a huge change, with sustainability, diversity and responsibility becoming huge themes. Do you have any opinions on these movements?
I am lucky enough to work within a company that has strong values on these areas. Sustainability within the fashion industry is very important with fast fashion creating tons of fabric waste a year; creating quality garments that last reduces the need to constantly buy new. I think consumers are also becoming aware of these issues within fashion and adapting there buying habits.
Lastly, to any students that are reading this in admiration of your career-what advice would you give to the students hoping to showcase this year?
Just experiment as much as you can, this could be the last chance you get to create a collection that is solely based on your own research and ideas. If something doesn’t work out how you first intended then it’s not the end of the world – it could generate an idea that you would have never have considered when you started out. Also enjoy it as much as possible, even if you aren’t selected to showcase at GFW you will have learnt so much about how far you can push yourself and your ideas.