Sophie Lily Bloomfeld
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what made you want to study on the Fashion Portfolio course?
Well, in the beginning I thought getting onto the Fashion Portfolio short course, and my choice to go into fashion, was a stroke of luck, but in actual fact it was not.
Growing up, I was surrounded by fashion, one Grandfather owned a fashion supply business based on South Molton Street and the other was an accessories craftsman and designer. When you're little you don't really know how these things can subconsciously affect you. But I realise they did, now.
I wanted to study at LCF in particular, as I thought if I'm going to work in this industry I might as well study in the best possible place. I had always known that LCF had a great reputation and standard of graduates.
How did the Fashion Portfolio course help you get onto the BA and did you always know that you wanted to work with accessories?
I did well on Fashion Portfolio and this gained me a Dean's selection, which meant that I got straight onto the course of my choice, with no interview, just on the strength of my work. I was really lucky and other people who got this from the Fashion Portfolio course are also doing really well, which makes me proud to be associated to it.
Taking the BA (Hons) Cordwainers Accessories (now called BA Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation) course was probably always going to happen, but a tutor on the Fashion Portfolio course who taught me photography, said in my initial interview that I had a real talent for accessories, so that planted a seed and from then I chose to nurture it. It was also tactical decision as I soon realised that having a particular specialism would set me in better stead going into the industry!
When you started on your BA did you need to have technical accessories knowledge or was this taught?
Not really, I think with most courses at LCF it's all about developing one's talent. In the first year we were taught the foundations of leather craft and basic accessories design. It was very broad but definitely helps to make you a better designer, as, if you can actually make something, you can see the problems before they occur and therefore this saves time and money, which is key in this industry. To be honest, if we didn't have the tutors that we had at Cordwainers, I think the majority of the class would have had very generic skills. I think everyone on my course realises how lucky we are to have gone to Cordwainers.
Did you go on any work placements or get involved in any industry projects as part of your degree?
My BA course had an optional sandwich year where you could work in industry. Although not everyone takes up this opportunity, I chose to, as I thought I could only benefit from this - which I did, but on a far larger scale than I anticipated. I grew, not only professionally and creatively but also as a person, which sounds so clichéd, but it's true. This is pretty much due to my time at Adidas.
I moved to Germany for seven months and worked for the Yohji Yamamoto team, which I only discovered once I arrived - a good surprise, though slightly overwhelming! During my time at Adidas they allowed me to be very hands-on with projects, contributing to researching new seasons, designing, creating prototypes for the factories, CAD'ing (computer drawings and colour-ups) designs, and therefore creating technical packs for the factories.
Being involved in a professional team was such a great experience and something which you just can't learn in the classroom. I really had a fantastic time there and miss it immensely. I would suggest to all students out there to do as much with your placements as possible.
Throughout my degree I was also involved in industry projects. This is one of the major bonuses of going to LCF, they have a crazy amount of contacts. During my time at LCF I worked on projects with the design company Skandium, a small boutique in Brick Lane called Luna and Curious and the V&A's Museum of Childhood. My favourite project was Puma in association with the 2012 Olympics, that was so much fun and really developed my design style.
Recently, I was also involved with LCF's collaborative project with ASOS. It was called LTD 100 and consisted of 100 one-off pieces from LCF students being sold on ASOS.com.
My bag sold in approximately 40 minutes!
Not only did this make me feel proud, but it also made me realise that people liked what I was producing which helped my PDD (PPD is a Personal and Professional Development program that all students take with their course).
Overall the industry contact at LCF has given my work the competitive edge needed for my future career moves.
How much written and theory work did you have to do on your course?
To be honest, at times it was 50/50, but it depends on the project. During the time when I was completing business reports I did find it difficult, as I have always studied English Literature rather than English Language! However, another bonus at LCF is their hidden resource of support. This is a collection of people that help you structure, understand and plan your work. Without them I would have been a mess.
Overall I really enjoyed the Cultural Studies essays, which I did for a term as an elective on my BA and on Fashion Portfolio. I secretly like writing analytical essays so it was a lot of fun. Learning about new things that aren't that closely linked to your course can be really rewarding. You get to choose an elective from a variety including music and fashion, the cinematic image and loads more.
You finished your BA course a couple of months ago, can you tell us what you have been up to since then?
Since finishing my degree I haven't really stopped. At times it's been more tiring than my final year ever was. But anything worth having should be hard work to get, so you appreciate it more.
Just after the course had ended we had an exhibition of our collections displayed in LCF's Carnaby Street exhibition space, which was really an honour. I have also been freelancing for a children's accessories company, and currently about to start some work for Evisu. Apart from that, I am on the "Great Job Search" as I like to call it. I see it as a challenge. If I can get a good job in the current economic climate then "impossible is nothing," as Adidas say.
Did your graduate exhibition help you get any of these projects?
The Graduate Exhibition definitely helped, as it got me more exposure in the public eye, which for a student, is probably the hardest thing because networking is a skill you have to learn yourself.
Who or what inspires you most?
I suppose I'm a purest at times, I find that by just looking outside the window you can get inspired. I tend to conduct research by going to new places and taking as many pictures as my camera can take without dying.
For example, I just recently returned from a trip in Oslo, Norway. From this trip, I have stimulus to create my current project. I have used a mix of the Norwegian landscape mixed with the famous artist Munch, who created the Scream painting, a favourite of mine.
I am also inspired by designers who have a less traditional background. My current hero is Aitor Throup, he was consultant of the 2009 Umbro England football kit, which I'd love to have been involved with. His work ethics and design style are totally innovative.
Have you got any industry tips for current and future students?
To be honest, the best way to be, is open to anything and everything, always feel confident in what you do (not arrogant), and be yourself. This is really a tough lesson for young people. You should never double guess what an employer wants to see, i.e. both in your work and in you as they probably don't always know anyway and they will only know once they see it.
My boss at Adidas once told me that, in a potential employee, he looks for a passion for what they do. I believe this to be a good measure, as if you really want something in life, you can make it happen just by being motivated and confident.