London College of Fashion MA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear alumna Jennifer Morris has seen her independent brand, Fay & Solas introduced to this year’s Scoop International Fashion Shows. Jennifer, former Young Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards, and founder of two independent brands will have her collection shown from this Sunday at the Saatchi Gallery. LCF News spoke to Jennifer.
What did you study before your postgraduate, and what made you want to study MA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear?
I had studied BA Fashion Design at the Edinburgh College of Art before my postgraduate. After graduating from ECA, I moved to Australia and worked as production assistant for a mid-level fashion wholesale company. I learned a lot about the industry and the technical side of producing a collection, but I decided I wanted to work in design. I felt creatively I still wanted to develop myself more, so decided upon studying a Masters.
Why did you choose LCF?
Having worked in the production side of the fashion industry – I really liked that LCF offered a course that not only focused on design, but also looked at the technical side of construction and production. I was also keen on attending a university with such a prestigious reputation and the cachet that would give me on graduation.
What were the most interesting and challenging parts of your course?
I think to make the most of the course you really have to push yourself creatively, which can be difficult and take you out of your comfort zone as a designer. It is the perfect time to take advantage of the freedom to explore ideas, as there are so many restrictions to what you can do if you start working in a more commercial context once you have graduated. You have the time to really consider what you are creating and what you are trying to say with those creations.
There is a lot to get through in a short space of time during the course so it is quite physically and mentally demanding. There were long days, late nights, tears and tantrums along the way. But being able to share a workspace with so many other young, talented designers was really inspiring.
Congratulations on Fay & Solas being introduced at Scoop. What does this mean for the brand and yourself, what sort of platform will it offer?
Thank you. It is a really exciting time for me and for the brand. Scoop is a fantastic platform to be able to show at. It is a small, very well edited and curated show of premium brands. The space at the Saatchi Gallery, where Scoop is held, is a fantastic light and airy space which flows easily from one room and brand to the next. With such a good reputation for its selection of brands, Scoop manages to bring in many of the top UK and international buyers and stores. Having the chance to meet and talk to these buyers about the brand and collection is a fantastic opportunity for me to gain new stockists for the brand and also get invaluable feedback and insight into market position.
Did you always want to create an independent brand, how did Fay & Solas start?
After graduating from LCF I decided to launch my own luxury fashion label called Jennifer Morris. With this label I showed with Fashion Scout in London and took the brand to various showrooms during Paris Fashion Week. I love the creative freedom of a luxury brand, where it is all about the concept and creating this unique vision and identity, however I wanted to start creating something that was much more attainable, something that myself and my friends would be able to buy into ourselves. It was a massive challenge to start, you really have to consider everything in a commercial context. Therefore, a lot of your decisions are based entirely around costs. But I’ve found the reaction to the brand fantastic, not just from industry, but also from friends who are finally able to afford to buy the products I am making.
Scoop will be introducing some new faces to its January shows, Ultra Tee and yourself from the UK, Oakwood from France and Voltan from Italy. How familiar are you with the other brands, and what image does Scoop try to set for itself?
I think Scop does a fantastic job when it comes to selecting the brands they showcase. Ultra Tee are really pushing forward on a concept of sustainability, which is so important for the future of our industry, and for the future of our planet. Yet Scoop still introduces brands who are very established with a very traditional background, such as that at Oakwood and Voltan. The level of quality, the mix of ideas and styles which are available at Scoop is growing from strength to strength each season and offers buyers an exciting concept to enjoy.
You won Young Designer of the Year at Scottish Fashion Awards a couple of years ago. What are best things for new emerging talents and designer to do when trying to break into the industry?
I think it is always really tough for new designers to get noticed. I obviously had the fantastic launch platform of my MA graduate show at the V&A, where there was a huge press attendance that gave me a fantastic start to my career. I think it is really important to gain as much industry knowledge as possible before you try and launch yourself, those contacts you make early on can be a fantastic help in the future. Get to know your fellow students in other disciplines, you never know if that fashion journalism student might end up at Vogue and help launch your career. I also think it is really important to know who you are and what you want. You get so much advice from so many people when you are establishing yourself, and they all have a different view. If you end up listening to everyone you end up losing who you are. I think getting advice from as many people as possible is really important, but be selective and understand why you are taking certain advice and have the belief to take on board but not follow through with others.
What three tips would you give to prospective students thinking about studying MA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear?
I think the main one is work really, really hard! You only let yourself down if you haven’t put in 100%.
Understand who you are as a designer, what it is you are trying to say, what it is you are trying to acheive.
Enjoy it! Studying a masters gives you the time and creative freedom to really develop as a designer. You will probably never get the time and space to do that again so really take advantage of it.
What are your plans for the future, where would you like to be in five years?
Well I hope that in the next five years I will have really established Fay & Solas as a go to brand for feminine premium womenswear. I am trying to grow the brand at a slow rate, starting by building up a base of UK stockists before I try and develop the brand overseas. I think it is really important to develop a really strong relationship with my customer so that it becomes a brand they can really trust and rely on to provide them with high quality, original pieces. I want to listen to feedback so that with each season the collections grow stronger and larger to cater for our diverse range of ladies. I have been lucky that Fay & Solas has started so strongly, and hopefully it is onwards and upwards from here.
- Find out more about MA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear
- Find out more about other postgraduate courses
- Find out more about all courses available at LCF
- Fay & Solas
- More information about Jennifer Morris
- Scoop International Fashion Shows
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