It is our pleasure to announce our highly commended nominee for our Industry Partner Mentoring award, Paul Austin! Paul is currently a Menswear Designer at Orlebar Brown. He is also an LCF alumnus and has been mentoring our students for two years.
He is one of the mentors that is always in high demand because he is great at doing group mentoring, as well as meeting students’ individual needs. His amazing experience and people skills makes him a great motivator to students.
LCF News: What’s your role, who do you work for and who did you mentor?
Currently I work as a menswear designer for British lifestyle brand Orlebar Brown, based in London. I mentored 4 students from LCF whilst working for Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row, and an additional 4 whilst working for DKNY. They were all from varied courses, including footwear design, tailoring, menswear design, womenswear design, etc.
LCF News: Why did you decide to become a mentor for an LCF student?
LCF provided me with excellent opportunities upon my graduation from the MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear course, so I felt it was only natural for me to offer my experience to current LCF students to help them as much as possible upon their graduations. It is a very small industry once you get involved so it provided a great opportunity to meet ‘new faces’ who I will no doubt meet again at some point in our careers.
LCF News: Tell us about your experience of mentoring…
The experience of mentoring was enjoyable in all aspects. In an industry where we never stop learning, it was great to hear from young talent who have an entirely different skill set and thought process to what I focused on at college, and in turn, be able to share my different experience with the mentees in the hope that by promoting discussion, we could share thoughts as a group, enabling us all to think about taking a different approach.
The mentees inspired each other as peers just as much as hearing from someone already working in industry. The most important goal I wanted each mentee to achieve was to realise their potential and discuss their ultimate dream, and inspire them to actually go out there and achieve it, and that I would be there for them every step of the way in helping them move forward.
LCF News: How valuable is mentoring to students wanting to get into the industry today?
I found the mentoring experience valuable because of course any opinion in the fashion industry is subjective, so it provided a platform to hear numerous opinions at one time. This helped all of us to understand that we will face many different opinions along the way, and by accepting these differences, we not only become more open minded in our approach to our work, but it also gives us the confidence to bag our dream job.
At college it is easy to be swayed by one opinion at times, because much of the time we report into one tutor, so I wanted to bring the reality of what the industry could be like, which is working in an environment where our work is influenced by many other departments and individual voices. I would therefore urge any student or potential mentor to grab this opportunity.
LCF News: What did you and your organisation gain from the experience and would you recommend it to others?
I would entirely recommend the mentoring process, because it really works both ways. The mentees hopefully have the opportunity to ask as many questions as they want about the realities of the industry they are working to be part of, and in turn the mentor has the opportunity to be exposed to fresh talent, and can hopefully help to place these new designers in future roles as part of their network. To this day, the students I met will drop me a line when they have an interview to prepare for, knowing that I can offer a different opinion and honest advice, which I find really rewarding on a personal level.
LCF News: How did LCF Careers support you as a mentor?
I liaised with Farah Ahmad, Graduate Recruitment Assistant at LCF, whilst I was mentoring, and her organisational skills were always excellent. From booking a venue, or relaying information from mentees, there was never a time when a meeting did not run smoothly. I also fed back to Farah after meetings, and her feedback in return was always useful and positive.
LCF News: What makes a good mentee?
I believe any student should be a mentee, because even though I was blessed with wonderful mentees on both occasions, if I were faced with a less open minded student, I believe this is all part of the process. The sessions are designed to promote discussion and to meet new people, and this is the beauty of it, so I’m not sure there is a particular right answer as to what makes a good mentee. I think any student who is serious about embarking on a career in the industry, deserves the opportunity to ask questions and have someone to fire opinions at, which is why I enjoyed it so much.
LCF News: Did you study at LCF and if so, which course did you study and what was your experience at LCF like?
I graduated from the Fashion Design & Technology MA at LCF in 2008 and had one of the best experiences of my life. My tutor was Darren Cabon, and he helped me grow as a designer, and by the time I graduated after just a year and a half, I was totally ready to hit the ground running. This is why I was so keen to mentor, because perhaps not every student will have the same experience during their college life, so I wanted to offer the same guidance I received from Darren. LCF is a fantastic school and to this day, anyone I meet who also graduated from LCF has the same confidence, excellent skill set, positive outlook, and ‘can do’ attitude that LCF provides.
Without the support offered by people like Pauls, our students wouldn’t get the breadth of real-world experience and advice which is essential to kickstart their careers. Thank you and congratulations to Paul on hi achievement.
We will be announcing the well-deserved winners and runners up for each category here on the blog and across social media so stay tuned!