Rory Longdon, Gold Award Winner in 2011, has spent his time wisely- moving around the world to pursue exciting and exemplary roles, consulting for world renowned brands and always remembering his creativity and passion for knitwear. From his bold relocation to Italy and working with MaxMara group as a recent graduate, to moving to New York to produce and design knitwear for Belstaff, Rory has taken each opportunity presented to him and forged his own path.

We caught up with the industry pioneer and Graduate Fashion Week alumni to learn more about the conception of his brand MRC Knitwear , how his university taught him the technicalities of knitwear and what it’s like to design internationally.

Which university did you attend, and what’s the most valuable thing you learnt there?

I graduated from Nottingham Trent University from the Fashion Knitwear course in 2011. A firm technical education from NTU really prepared me for my career. As knitwear is very technical, it is fundamental to have a good grasp of this before designing knitwear. Alongside this, NTU pushes creativity - again something that is very important to the job I do 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 chose to pursue a career as a Knitwear Designer. Firstly, gaining experience with houses and then starting my own studio. The choice to open my own studio came, as I like to be as creative as possible, which means working directly on the hand or electronic knitting machines, which isn’t always possible working in companies. I also wanted to have the opportunity to work with various clients on different projects.

Tell us a bit more about your career journey since showing at Graduate Fashion Week. How have you found life in the industry?

After graduating I immediately moved to Italy where I had already secured a role with the MaxMara group, designing women’s knitwear across three lines. After almost two years are MaxMara I moved to New York, where I was designing women’s and men’s knitwear for Belstaff. Another year later, I returned to Italy where I begun working for myself and consulting for different clients.

I worked with brands such as Mugler, Tory Burch and Ermanno Scervino. In Italy I met my business partner and collaborator. Together, we started the studio MRCKnitwear, where we work on our own collection and various projects for different clients.

Where are you hoping to be in five years time?

I hope to still be running my own studio, being super creative and creating beautiful knits!

Many say the industry is undergoing a huge change, with sustainability, diversity and responsibility becoming prevalent themes. Do you have any opinions on these movements?

This is very true. I see a lot of companies we collaborate with moving in this direction. I think it’s a great change and something that had to happen!

Lastly, what advice would you give to the students hoping to showcase this year?

This opportunity only comes once, so work really hard! Be very very creative but also commercial!

Words and interview by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins