Graduate Fashion Week is an event designed to showcase emerging talent and aid graduates transition into the fashion industry. Harriet Eccleston, recent graduate of Northumbria University, showcased her designs at Graduate Fashion Week 2017. After being shortlisted for the Tu Scholarship award, the talented young designer has been awarded the Young Designer of the Year 2017 Award at the Midlands Fashion Awards! We caught up with Harriet to hear about her future plans, creative outlets and experiences in the industry so far.
Hi Harriet! Let's start at the beginning of your career- graduation! You graduated from Northumbria University, with a BA in Fashion. How did you find the experience of studying?
Studying BA(Hons) Fashion at Northumbria University gave me a well-rounded understanding of many aspects of the fashion industry, making finding placements and recently employment easier. I was able to develop my style and confidence as a designer with the support and encouragement of brilliant tutors and technicians around me.
What was it like showcasing your collection at GFW?
Amazing! It was incredible to see the collection I had worked on for 10 months worn by amazing models with professional hair and makeup walking down the huge catwalk. Knowing the calibre of those sitting in the audience was very special too, not to mention the support from friends and family. It was a brilliant platform on which to show my collection to bloggers and stylists who have since shot the collection in an editorial photoshoot.
At GFW17, you were a finalist for the TU Scholarship! How was being listed as a potential winner?
It was a good experience, the pressure of presenting your work in front of a panel of 5 and Henry Holland was a real test and extremely daunting. It was great to see how the company runs and meet the designers who work there.
Congratulations on your recent win- Young Designer of the Year 2017 Award at the Midlands Fashion Awards! What opportunities have this given you?
The Midlands Fashion Awards was an incredible experience; I met so many talented designers and models in a friendly and supportive environment. The whole process put me at ease because there was incredible support from the event organisers as well as Debra Hepburn, one of the judges. It was a brilliant networking opportunity with other designers, models and the judges. It has given me a platform on which to publicise my label as well as having the amazing opportunity of becoming one of an incredible group of Young British Designers. It has opened up opportunities that are making my dream of having my own fashion label more of a reality.
You've got experience working with All Saints and Paul Smith, both established names. How did you find your time there?
I had a year out from university which I was able to fill with back to back work placements.
Working at Palmer//Harding, All Saints and Paul Smith gave me a varied experience of the fashion industry and the ability to explore the different areas which I was interested in. I had a hands-on experience of what is involved in creating a successful label from Palmer//Harding, at the time a small scale, up-and-coming designer label. Paul Smith gave me the experience of what is involved in a large scale, international business as well as pattern cutting and construction skills. Both placements formed connections that, 2 years later, are still important. I am currently working for Paul Smith and assist for both companies at London Fashion Week.
What is one thing you learnt there?
I learnt that I wanted to have my own business and that I wanted to concentrate on womenswear pattern cutting. To have confidence and courage in what I am doing was also a valuable lesson to learn.
What are you working on at the moment, are there any passion projects that you’ve invested in?
I am currently working part time at Paul Smith, where I carried out my work placement. This is providing me with the ability to keep learning whilst having time to work on my own label.
I started selling printed t-shirts a couple of months ago through my website. Inspired by my dissertation on Slogan T-shirts, I aim to allow the customer to break away from the ready-made labels and confinements of a lot of high-street fashion today. I am trying to encourage creativity and expression by allowing the customer to write whatever they like on the dotted line under the text ‘I am’ with the fabric pen included. The t-shirts are soon to be stocked on the Young British Designers website.
There are also very exciting thing to come which I am beginning to work towards with the support of YBD. I can't wait to see what 2018 will hold!
From your experience in the industry so far, and as a student, what advice would you give to the new graduates or students?
Search for and take every opportunity that comes your way - you never know what it might lead to or who you might meet!
Interview by Jorge Da Silva
Words by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins