As a designer for the high street, we caught up with Chloe Jones, alumni of GFW 2012 to learn more about her opinions on the sustainable fashion movement and why she’s living and working for the present moment. Imploring that the journey through a fashion career “might not always be how you expected it to be”, we discussed the innate differences between luxury brands and high street, and why Chloe feels the high street provides the opportunity for creativity to continually bloom.
Which university did you attend, and what is the most valuable thing that you learnt there?
I did Fashion Design BA(Hons) at Bath Spa University. I was drawn to the course because of the high level of teaching there and the breadth of skills covered over the 3 years. I feel like a graduated in a good position because I was given so many tools to take forward into industry. But I think the most valuable thing the course gave me was a strong work ethic. Our course was treated like a real life studio, and we were expected to be in work everyday. The industry is tough, and I think having this installed in me from the get go set me up to work hard and go the extra mile in order to get to where I am now.
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?
I decided to pursue Womenswear Design when I graduated, and I’m lucky to have had a range of experience in the industry. I worked in high end for a couple of years, and I learnt a huge amount from my time with those luxury brands. About 4 years ago, I had an incredible opportunity come to me with a leading high street company. I decided to stay in this area of the market and now work as an Established Designer. For me, high street is such an exciting area to work in – it’s fast paced, there’s huge depth to my role and the success of what you do is very tangible. Seeing people wearing your designs never gets old.
How have you found life in the industry?
I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do. It’s been a lot of hard work, especially at the beginning when there is so much to learn and it’s so competitive, even just to get your foot in the door. I love the pace of the industry and how every day is different. Working with creative people, the opportunity to travel ... it makes all the hard work worth it.
Where are you hoping to be in five years time?
I don’t like to look too much into the future – I prefer to take each day as it comes. I feel like I’m in a fantastic place right now, so am excited to see where it leads to. Hopefully I’ll be doing much of the same thing, working with a fantastic team and designing some great fashion.
Many say that the industry is undergoing a huge change, with sustainability, diversity and responsibility becoming underlying themes. Do you have any opinions on these movements?
I think sustainability is definitely something that we need to be aware of, and a topic that the high street has really had to take notice of recently. I feel that people are moving away from ‘throw away’ fashion, instead investing in more sustainable means of shopping. I love the trend of reinventing items from your wardrobe, shopping second hand, reworking hand-me-downs. I think it makes for some really unique and personal style. It will be interesting to see how the high street responds going forward.
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?
This journey might not be how you expected it would be. Open yourself up to every opportunity that comes your way – you never know where it will lead.
Interview and words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins