Raabia beats hundreds to land design role with big fashion brands

Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger are the illustrious labels Raabia Arif is designing for, having secured the position before even graduating from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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After beating hundreds of other hopefuls in a competitive recruitment process that spanned six months, Raabia has relocated to Amsterdam to kick-start her career with PVH, one of the world’s largest designer apparel companies.

The 23-year-old from Leicester, who graduates with a Fashion and Textiles MA from DMU in January, said: "I’ve worked hard and I’m really proud of my achievements.

"Getting this role has shown me that I should have more confidence in myself as a designer. I’m determined to make it in the industry and it’s good to feel like I have what it takes.

As a design graduate, Raabia will work three, eight-month rotations across each area of PVH, before choosing which she would like to specialise in.

The design process has always been very important to me, so learning about how it works in the industry is very exciting," she said.

Raabia was still studying when she applied for the role, exploring Islamophobia and attitudes towards veiled Muslim women for her MA, by researching draped textiles and their connotations throughout history.

She said: "Going through such a challenging recruitment process at the same time as my studies was tough, but I’m very focused and driven."

After submitting a digital portfolio, along with more than 250 other applicants, Raabia was set a project to design a capsule collection for Calvin Klein in just one week. Two nerve-racking months passed before she was then invited to take part in a Skype interview. 

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The interview coincided with a trip to Hong Kong where she was representing the very best of DMU’s design talent at the Government's GREAT Festival of Innovation.

Raabia showcased her innovative crinoline collection featuring rivets and hand-drawn illustrations - first developed during the final year of her Fashion Design degree - which was shortlisted for the Best of Gala award at Graduate Fashion Week (GFW).

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"My Skype interview was not long after I landed, so I was feeling tired and jet lagged," she said.

"However, knowing that I was one of just 12 candidates to make the cut was motivating and they thought the fact that I was in Hong Kong demonstrated my international outlook and ambition."

They were also impressed to hear more about my internship with designer Emilia Wickstead, during which I helped develop the collection and present it at London Fashion Week, visited factories and assisted in model fittings."

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Raabia made the final six and was flown to Amsterdam for a challenging assessment day including both individual and group work. She was shortlisted in the last three and was offered the position after being set one final design task. 

She said: "Until that point I hadn’t allowed myself to really want the position, but I went above and beyond to show them everything I had. I’m so happy and relieved all my hard work paid off."

As well as pouring her heart into securing the role, Raabia remained dedicated to her studies, managing to finish her MA early so that she could start at PVH in September. 

"Studying fashion at DMU is phenomenal. The facilities are fantastic and the tutors and quality of teaching they deliver for both undergrad and postgrad really sets it apart," she said.

"I loved my course so much that I was a student ambassador for three years, which among many other things, gave me the chance to support with planning for GFW and the Degree Show."

Raabia also credits her family’s support for her success. "My family has been my backbone throughout it all," she added.

"In fact, I originally wanted to study medicine and it’s my dad who encouraged me to combine my illustration skills with design. I’m so grateful for that."

Find Raabia online on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Posted on: Friday 16 November 2018

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