CLASS OF 2018: Innovative sportswear designs lead Karen to high street success

Technical competence has landed Contour Fashion student Karen Adams a sought-after job at H&M’s head office in Stockholm.

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After graduating with a from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) this week, Karen will relocate to the Swedish capital to take up her position as a sportswear pattern maker within the high street giant’s lingerie department.

Her role will include working with a large team of designers, pattern cutters and buyers to develop technical packs, which inform H&M’s factory workers.

The 22-year-old, from Taunton in Somerset, said: “I was first attracted to H&M because of the community spirit in the way that they work. Even as a junior member of the team, I already feel like I’ll be valued and that my opinion will matter.

“The job really appealed to my nature, as I’ve always liked maths and problem-solving.

“I’m excited for the chance to be working on something that requires so much precision and where diagrams have to be clear enough to overcome language barriers.”

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Karen impressed the team at H&M with her final-year collection of six performance sportswear outfits, which also hit the annual Contour Fashion catwalk in front of some of the biggest industry names.

“Seeing it on the catwalk was amazing. It was a beautiful conclusion to my three years at DMU and I’m really proud of how hard I’ve worked,” she said.

Each outfit is designed with a specific sport in mind and takes into account the different muscles used and movement required.

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Inspired by Matthias Church in Budapest, her vibrant flat prints come to life when viewed through 3D glasses and her textured prints were achieved through techniques such as flocking.

Karen even collaborated with second-year Footwear Design student Dimitri Gabellier on the sports shoes, which rounded-off her collection.

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She said: “We’re really lucky to have access to industry-standard facilities in the Vijay Patel Building. Everything’s under the same roof, from dyeing your own fabric to testing its elasticity.

“You can really see the effect of the new building on this year’s collections, with so many different techniques used. You’re not limited in any way and you can be as creative as you like.”

Another highlight for Karen has been the contact with industry throughout her three years at DMU.

“We’ve had experts from big brands on panels for our end-of-year projects, as well as live briefs with Freya and ASOS. It’s been so valuable to have their feedback and opinions,” she said.

With the course’s heavy focus on gaining work experience, Karen completed a placement at Speedo, which cemented her passion for technical design.

She said: “I was also lucky to have Damian Graham, a print designer at Speedo, as my mentor. We regularly discussed things such as the current market, design aesthetic and sellability of my project. He enriched my experience and pushed me to achieve.

“I’m grateful for the support of Jannette Tarnai too. As the technology centre manager at Speedo, she allowed me to make my garments in-house and helped me to work out the most efficient construction.”

Karen also benefitted from placements at Sassi Holford and Fleur of England and her designs have featured in Underlines magazine.

Posted on Monday 16th July 2018

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