The latest post in our #NeverTooLateToLearn series is all about fashion!
Marketing & PR Officer Louise Boyle caught up with Chris Saby, an HNC Fashion Design and Production with Retail student at our Ayr Campus. Read her thoughts below on finding out what it’s like to return to education as a mature learner…
When I was asked to write a blog on ‘a day in the life of a fashion student’, I was slightly anxious.
I have never been that interested in fashion. I could tell you a few main designers but apart from that high street shops have always been my go-to place.
It was here I realised that, deep down, I had a stereotypical view about fashion courses…‘you must just spend all year sewing’, ‘it must just be about following what the Kardashians wear’, ‘I bet you don’t even get to create a full outfit’, or ‘it will just be about drawing nice tops’.
When I arrived at the Ayr Campus and was introduced to Chris Saby and his class, I realised how wrong I was!
Chris is 36 years old and is classed as a ‘mature learner’. When I first met Chris he jokingly said ‘are you doing this because I am old?’. He is the only male in his class and comes across as the popular funny big brother to the rest of the group.
I shadowed Chris over 2 different classes – one you could class as theory and the other practical.
During the first class, I was introduced to the research and development side of the fashion world. This class was all about researching fashion, materials and the impact on the environment. It was here I saw Chris use a programme called Kalido which allows him to sketch many different designs on the computer.
I didn’t realise how much research went into creating one outfit, and that’s only on the computer – the next step would be to source the materials and create the piece.
Chris talked me through his current concept for the end of year fashion show. He explained his theme, the reasons behind why he chose certain materials and colours, and also his mood board; which allowed me to see the journey behind an item of clothing.
Chris is studying HNC Fashion Design and Production with Retail but you can see that the ‘family’ extends out to all fashion courses. During class, one HND student came in to tell some people in the class that one of her pieces was selected to be made for the fashion show, and it was evident that the full class was happy for her. It was here I saw such a supportive friendly department that would encourage each other to succeed.
In the second of Chris’s classes, I shadowed him in the sewing room where I could see the next step…concept – design – creation! Chris was busy making the sleeve of his jumper that he would be showing in the end of year fashion show – here is the final result.
Thanks to Chris, I now have a better appreciation of fashion and what it entails. It’s something I didn’t think I had an interest in, but I think that’s because I didn’t fully understand it. Meeting students like Chris who are true ambassadors of the course has helped change my opinion, and I hope the interview below also encourages you to consider fashion as a career.
What made you choose this point in your life to come to college?
11 years ago I met my girlfriend via online dating. 10 years ago I moved to Scotland to live with her. I worked in one rubbish job after another and got to a point in my life where I couldn’t do another rubbish job and wanted to do a job with a career path.
Being a larger guy, I always struggled to find nice clothing as most of the larger clothes tend to be old-fashioned. My existing interest in fashion then turned into an idea – I wanted to start my own business selling modern clothes for large men. My first step was to apply for a course in fashion and progress from there.
What worries did you have about returning to education?
The first thing was obviously my age, I thought everyone was going to be younger than me. I also worried about being the only male, ‘would they be friendly’? And ‘would they accept the large older English guy’?
In hindsight, my worries were forgotten about quite quickly. I was never viewed as the older male in the class, just as another classmate. Yes I am older than the rest and I get mocked about it, but in a really friendly way, everyone is like my little sister, which I like.
Why did you choose this course?
My main goal is to set up my own business selling clothes for larger men. The industry seems to cater to larger woman but not so much for larger men. In fact, some men I follow on Instagram buy ‘ASOS curve’ clothes, as they also suit men and fit them better than some male clothing brands.
I also figured that if my plan of setting up my own business didn’t work, then I would still have the skills needed to gain a job in the industry.
What have you enjoyed the most?
I have enjoyed learning new things. ‘‘People just think it’s drawing some clothes and stitching things together and it’s not’. It’s about business, where everything comes from, how it gets there, the effects on the environment, how to price garments, display them, promote them and so on.’
The lecturers at the College have years of experience which we benefit from. They know how things work, how to do things, how not to do things, etc.
What has been challenging?
Learning to learn again! Deadlines have been challenging, but that helps you in the future as everyone has deadlines in their life.
Learning a lot in a short space of time.
What support have you accessed and how has this helped you?
Tutors are always there for you and I have great support from my fiancé at home. Support is always there even if you feel you don’t need it.
Advice to other adults thinking about returning to education?
Do it, you get over the worries quite quickly.
If you want to do something with your life then come here.
It’s a lot more than you think it is, it’s not just sketching and knocking up a top. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
It’s fun, hard work and you get a good pay off at the end of it.
Are you glad you came to college and why?
Yes, I made friends for life, gained very worthwhile information, I learned to trust myself and my work and it has also helped me with what I need to set up my own business.
‘It’s a lot more than sketching a top.’
I am hopefully moving on to HND Fashion Design Production with Retail next year. I am also going to use the next year to make plans for my own business, exploring all the options available to me.
I would love to live in Glasgow and do it out of Glasgow. There is much more of a market in cities like Glasgow.
Ayrshire College works closely with Bridge to Business to inspire and support students to develop a business plan and start their own business.
From September 2018, Enterprise funding will be available to Ayrshire College students. Check back to this blog in September for more information on #EnterprisingStudents.
#NeverTooLateToLearn HNC Fashion Design and Production with Retail