Meet Global Pathways recipient Lauren Chivers
LCF Global: Global Pathways is a funding opportunity aiming to support short-term mobility at LCF. The scheme is in place to encourage students to enrich their studies by spending a short time overseas as part of their degree. Through the scheme, LCF offers a bursary that enables students' participation in a wide range of activities abroad providing a unique opportunity to broaden cultural horizons, learn new skills and develop an international network. We caught up with some of the most recent participants of the scheme to discuss their travels and how the opportunity has impacted their studies and professional prospects.
Lovely to meet you, Lauren! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and summarise your mobility project?
My name is Lauren Chivers, I have just completed the MA Fashion Futures course and will be officially graduating in July. My background is in fashion design, so I used my time on this course to explore and develop my practice in terms of sustainability, through fabric usage - zero waste designs, and increasing garment longevity - adjustability, durability and adaptable design. I was given the opportunity to take part in the Fashion Tech Alliance programme, with PANGAIA Grado Zero which involved a residency at their studio based just outside of Florence, Italy. This involved an initial 3 week residency, and then a further 2 week stay to complete the project. During the visit I worked in their design studio on my project, along with the assistance of Enrico Cozzoni and two other interns from Milan. We visited textiles mills to source fabrics, trim warehouses for zips and buttons, and I also had free time at the weekend to explore the sights nearby, such as Florence and Pisa.
My project involved considering every aspect of sustainability within a garment. From the materials used, design and use, to the garments end of life. I designed a jacket that was made from completely natural and biodegradable materials, the design was zero waste and included adjustable elements to change the shape and fit, and the jacket could easily be disassembled and materials re-used if required.
How did you benefit from planning your experience and travelling individually?
I like to think I am quite a confident and independent individual, but this trip really tested that. Travelling alone and navigating working in an area where not everyone can speak English was challenging but rewarding. I even started to try and learn Italian so that I could at least communicate the basics when ordering my lunch or doing a food shop! It really boosted my confidence and self-belief, and I was proud of myself for doing so. Especially being invited back for a second visit to finish the project - I knew where I was going and what to expect which made it even more enjoyable. It also made me consider the possibility of working abroad in the future, should the opportunity arise, as this isn’t something I had really considered before.
How did the experience impact your academic journey? What are the key learning outcomes you gained from your experience abroad?
The project I started on the Fashion-Tech Alliance programme formed the basis for my final MA project - focusing on zero waste, adjustability and longevity. Although my final project was more conceptual and less commercial, the initial ideas came from this experience.
The key learning outcomes from this project were rethinking/redesigning a suitably chosen product from a more sustainable perspective, whilst also gaining further industry experience, knowledge and expertise. It allowed me to see how I could use and apply the knowledge from my course in the industry environment. Particularly thinking about the whole journey of a product, from design and the consumer, to the end of its life.
Can you share a personal highlight from your experience abroad?
I think a highlight of the trip would be visiting the textiles mills in Prato to source materials for my project. Although I currently, and have also previously worked for various brands and designers and been involved with sourcing materials, seeing them being woven, and getting to speak to the people that do so, was particularly interesting.
And also getting to experience living and working in Italy for a few weeks. It was nice to be able to incorporate tourist activities such as seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa and going to the beach, alongside the experience of working in the industry.
Would you like to complete another project overseas, and if so, what would you like to experience?
Yes definitely! One of the things I really liked was meeting likeminded people, such as the other interns, who were studying on similar courses in other countries. Getting to share ideas and opinions on sustainability issues from other perspectives, is something I would like to do again. Also getting to experience a different culture and lifestyle whilst working - for example the super relaxed atmosphere, and frequent espresso shots throughout the day was something that was very new to me as a non-coffee drinker (now converted!).
Any useful tips to share with a fellow student that does not know where to start to look for an opportunity overseas?
This opportunity came about as part of my course, so it would be worth speaking to course leaders and lecturers about potential opportunities like this. It wasn’t completely smooth running, but it is now an experience I have that sets me apart from other people, so was definitely worth the stress.