Sparkly snowflakes, stars and reindeer all feature on this season’s festive jumpers at Wallis, created with help from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student Evie Willis.
The Fashion Buying with Marketing student worked as a buying admin assistant for the British women's clothing retailer as part of a year-long placement with the Arcadia Group, which owns Wallis and other brands including Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Evans.
Having the chance to contribute to the creative process was a placement highlight for Evie.
“It was amazing to be given the opportunity to lead on the project for my team, meeting with suppliers and doing competitor analysis,” said the 21-year-old from Leicester.
“I also looked at our best-sellers from last year, which featured hot-fixed gems and sequins. We decided to keep these elements and progress the concept, so I provided the designer - Hannah Strike who was another DMU placement student from Fashion Design - with inspiration ideas which we reviewed together before ordering samples in.”
Working in women’s knitwear was a different experience for Evie, who has previously focused on womenswear as a whole.
She said: “Within other womenswear departments, designs and prints are often replicated across different garments and homewares, whereas with knitwear a concept tends to be a bit more unique, technical and less transferable.
“My placement has given me a really good grounding in knitwear and has prepared me for industry, building my confidence and giving me valuable communication skills.
“Wallis is a relatively small office, so it was a great environment to be in as I got to work closely with senior members of the team and take on extra responsibilities.”
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One of the extra responsibilities Evie was entrusted with, was to act as Wallis’ press representative, working with the Arcadia Group press team to fulfil briefs from magazines.
“I was responsible for sourcing all the products the press team requested, which required me to disturb a lot of busy people. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take on the role at the start of my placement, but by the end I felt that I did,” she said.
The thing that Evie enjoyed the most about her placement was that ‘no day was the same’.
She said: “My job was to keep everything organised so that the buyers’ lives could run as smoothly as possible. This ranged from working ahead on ranges, organising fittings, sourcing samples and keeping everyone updated on every part of the buying process.”
Evie felt well-prepared to tackle her placement, thanks to the skills and knowledge she developed during the first two years of her degree.
“Our lecturers are from industry and have worked as buyers, so what we learn is relevant. My placement colleagues were impressed by what I already knew, especially things like what a critical path is,” she said.
DMU Global – the university’s international experience programme – has also benefitted Evie. She has gone behind-the-scenes at brands such as Zalando in Berlin, as well as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and G-Star in Amsterdam, in in February she will get the chance to visit factories in Porto.
She said: “Zalando is a wholesale partner for Wallis, so it was very interesting for me to experience the business from both sides.
“Overall, the trips have given me some great industry insights and a good idea of where to start if I wanted to get an international job.”
Posted on Monday 9th December 2019