LCF alumnus Jaehwa Rhee on their Reserved Scholarship experience
- Written byN Brathwaite
- Published date 04 February 2022
London College of Fashion, UAL alumnus Jaehwa Rhee graduated from the BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear course in 2018. In his final year, Jaehwa was a recipient of a scholarship from Polish clothing store chain Reserved, who also offered a place to work with them after graduation. Now more than 3 years on, he is completing an MA in Creative Direction at Polimoda in Florence, Italy, after working with Reserved until August last year. Here’s what Jaehwa had to say about his experience.
How did you find out about the scholarship and what made you apply?
During my 3rd year, we were told that Reserved were planning to visit LCF to have an interview day with final year students. At that time, Reserved had opened their first London store in Oxford Circus. After checking out the store (to learn more about the brand), I signed up for the briefing day. I thought that it would be a great opportunity for me, as it was not only a scholarship they were offering, but also a 6-month internship after graduation.
I felt so happy after having the interview with them, they were so kind and friendly, but also professional. We talked about what I expected from the company, and my strengths and goals as a person/designer. At the end of the interview, we had a photoshoot. I asked them to put their branded paper bags and look-book on the table, which made everyone laugh - I guess this was a moment that made them remember me.
What did you study at LCF and how did this help prepare you for working in the industry?
The academic experience of LCF made it possible for me to develop myself as a designer. Now, that experience exists as a strong foundation for me. I learnt what I needed to know before getting into the fashion industry by studying the Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear course. Deep understanding and knowledge about fashion design; garment, trimming, sewing, draping etc., are important to be able to expand my ability. The course was not only creative but also very practical. After graduating, I realised that LCF graduates stood out in the industry as professional people because of this refined knowledge.
What was a typical working day like during your internship?
I was placed in the Creative Director’s team, which manages almost everything to do with the brand and group as a whole, like a control centre. The main tasks I had to do were research and analysis about social issues, fashion trends and lifestyle as we would have a trend and direction presentation for the whole group 4 times a year. In addition to this, I was also a designer for a special collection so, I would work on designing a unisex collection and the concept development for the upcoming season. I also took part in branding manual management; label, hangtag, trimming, and trend workshops with the head designers.
What was your favourite thing about working in Poland with Reserved?
First of all, I love the people who I used to work with. They were so kind and open, but also desired to improve the brand image and quality. There are so many talented and motivated people within the company, the work environment was amazing. Especially the team members who I used to work with, including the Creative Director; I really learnt a lot from them. They have much more diverse experience than me, but they would always try to give me chances to challenge myself as a creative person and would support and help me in both the practical and creative sides of my work.
Where do you get inspiration from?
The main source of my inspiration is current affairs/society. Fashion and business are absolutely connected to our life; what we see, listen, learn, hope. I have always tried to understand and think about what is happening now, and why it is happening.
What are your future work plans/aspirations?
After the 6-month internship, my contract was changed from a temporary position to a permanent one, which I stayed in until last August. I lived and worked in Poland for the last 3 years, but now I am trying to jump into my next stage of working life and challenge myself more. In the more distant future, I would like to have my own label and store, but I want to have more experience, which I don’t have yet. I plan to gain this experience by working in a ‘luxury’ or ‘local’ brand.
What tips do you have for current students at LCF on getting the most out of a placement or getting into industry?
To be honest, back in 2018, it wasn’t easy getting a job in Europe as a non-European, but now graduates can get a 2 year job-seeking Visa. I would recommend for the current students to always be ready to be hired because no one knows when the chance will come, and that chance may not become yours if you are not ready for it. From CVs and portfolios to technique, creative thinking, and attitude, it is always better to be prepared... and don’t be afraid to knock on some doors.