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Class of 2018: Innovative thinking earns Emma role with leading lingerie brand

Cutting-edge research combined with industry experience have kick-started Emma Shaw’s career with one of the world’s biggest names in luxury lingerie.

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Graduating today with a Fashion and Textiles MA from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), Emma is working as a Junior Product Developer across lingerie and nightwear at Agent Provocateur.

She works closely with the brand’s design, product development and production teams, as well as external vendors and fabric mills, to ensure that each range is produced to the highest standard.

The 25-year-old from Burbage in Leicestershire said: “The role is very fast-paced and involves working across several seasons at a time.

“I love being involved in innovative developments with materials and componentry that we have developed ourselves. Working for a luxury brand definitely allows for more exciting possibilities with materials than at a high-street level.

“The product, people and pace are what make the job so enjoyable.”

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After four years of studying a foundation in art and design, followed by a textiles degree, Emma was eager to start her career.

She completed internships at Selfridges, assisting the Lingerie Buyer, and at luxury British swimwear brand Heidi Klein, as a Product Development Assistant, before landing a role as a Trainee Assistant Buyer for lingerie at Debenhams.

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“Debenhams involved developing commercial awareness through competitor analysis and weekly comparative shops, which gave me a keen eye for trends in shapes, styles, fabric and trims,” said Emma.

“While I enjoyed it, I longed to work more closely with the product and I made the decision to specialise in textiles for lingerie at MA level.

“I chose DMU because of its reputation in industry and the high quality of the teaching.”

Applying the invaluable industry knowledge she gained to her MA proved crucial to Emma’s research.

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As well as challenging the ‘nude standard’ colour used by many lingerie manufacturers and uncovering a niche in the market for a specialised British bridal brand, Emma conducted extensive research into stitch-free technology.

She said: “During my time as a lingerie buyer, I felt there was a distinct lack of innovative decorative fabrics on the market, which was saturated with lace and embroidery, with limited new visual concepts emerging.”

Establishing a good relationship with Leicestershire-based textile machine company Triumph Needle gave Emma regular access to an ultrasonic welding machine, which bonds synthetic materials with thermoplastic qualities.

This allowed her to create an innovative final collection including textile samples, trim designs and two sets of lingerie to illustrate how the textiles could work in a real product.

Her ground-breaking work earned her a Postgraduate Design Award and a £250 Sydney Marcus Roadley bursary.

Emma said: “I was delighted to arrive at DMU in September 2017 to a new campus, which provided a highly conducive working environment which was both stimulating and supportive.”

“My MA has definitely prepared me for the career I desired. It has taught me to research in depth and analyse critically, both skills I can apply to any job in the future.”

Posted on Thursday 25th January 2018

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