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Course Insights: Kathrin Lodes on the importance of innovation and process

BA Cordwainers Fashion Bags & Accessories Student Work
BA Cordwainers Fashion Bags & Accessories Student Work
Collage of bags and accessories made by students
Written by
Jennifer Igiri
Published date
16 September 2019

BA Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories course leader Kathrin Lodes is a tailor who previously worked as Head of Accessories at Vivienne Westwood. Drawing on her industry and educational experience, Kathrin, who is also a graduate of the course, spoke to us about the process of development and innovation, discussing tips, advice and insights for freshers.

Hi Kathrin. Why should prospective students apply to study this course?

It's a great course because it focuses on developing your own ideas and industry links. It's not just about creating things for the sake of it. Students develop thorough research skills and follow a rigorous design development process.

Students get told a lot that you need to be innovative and come up with original ideas. Practically speaking, what does that actually mean in terms of design? 

Innovation is really key. We want students to understand how to use their research to inspire their ideas and how to apply knowledge of the design development process. If you start with an idea and try to work the process backwards this will kill your creativity. When you practice each step, you can come up with some great novelty ideas. But you need to be open to going on this journey and you need to also be willing to work hard. This is a process, and if you want to develop something original you need to take the time. Follow all the different styles, do a lot of different sketches and really experiment.

Would you say then that research is the core of coming up with your own ideas?

It's the foundation. It's very important to do more than just secondary research on Instagram! Students need to see what's going on in exhibitions, what’s happening around them.

You can find sources of research and inspiration everywhere you go. If you want to be on the innovative side of things, you need to be well informed. Then you’ll know which direction we're going in and understand the trends.

Are there any things that students currently do that really doesn't work in their favour? A friendly warning for freshers?

The process doesn’t work if they start with a fully formed idea as soon as they get a brief. You should not have the goal already in your mind when you're starting a project, you need to understand the process and you need to be open to absorb information, develop it and stay flexible.

If you start with the final product in mind, you're blocking your own creativity and creative process.

Research will give you unexpected opportunities and ideas. If you want to be successful you need to be on top of things and be willing to work hard. You should have a passion for it and be willing to explore. There is so much potential in accessories and bags, especially when people are innovative and are conscious of sustainability and new processes. If students actually embrace everything that comes their way, they will have some amazing ideas.

Any other advice you’d offer to a new student?

I think it’s also important for students to stay proactive, constantly researching what's going on in the world of accessories. They should engage with stores and see how items are made, so that they understand how things were done ages ago, how that has evolved and what potential there will be. A bag is not just ‘front, back and sides’, it’s a whole object and you need to think of it holistically.

Through experimentation students can broaden their horizons and find their own ways of creating a shape. Don’t be afraid to reinterpret things with new proportions and materials.

Attention to detail is key!