Sportswear giant Gymshark puts DMU Contour Fashion students to the test – and is excited by the results


Attracting one of the hottest fitness clothing brands in the world to run a competition for students speaks volumes about the high esteem De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) Contour Fashion course is held in.

Gymshark, founded in 2012 by teenager Ben Francis and a group of school friends, has used social media and a dedicated group of athletes and artists to grow into a multi-million pound company with customers in 131 countries.

Now the brand, whose ethos is based around building a thriving community and being ‘consistently future-conscious’,  has turned to DMU Contour students to see what they think Gymshark’s next line of sportswear could look like.


Gymshark's Isla Gilbertson (left) and Ed Priestnall (right) with winner Emma McNaughton and a model sporting her '24-hour active wear'

Led by Talent Director Ed Priestnall and his team, including DMU alumni Isla Gilbertson, Gymshark set final year students the task of bringing their visions to life for future lines of sportswear.

A total of four students were chosen as winners and all of them have been invited to spend the day at Gymshark’s West Midlands headquarters to experience life at the world-leading sportswear brand.

Ed said: “We want to invest in new talent and placements, and working with DMU gives us the opportunity to understand what the next wave of creatives are proposing for the industry.

“Our brand is aimed at the 16 to 25-year age group and we want to keep our company as relevant as possible.

“Coming to DMU and seeing the students’ work has been a great experience. I came here with a plan to offer a first, second and third place. No problem.

“But trying to whittle it down was incredibly difficult. The final pieces were very, very strong. There is no doubt this course is delivering some really exciting prospects.

“I hope this is the first of many visits to the DMU Contour Fashion department. It’s been really enjoyable.”


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First prize went to Emma McNaughton whose concept was “24 hour active”.

“The idea is the garments are designed for the commute to and from the gym and to be active in the gym.

“I am shocked to win. I am lost for words really. It is a brand that I am personally a massive fan of.  Gymshark is an iconic brand and it is amazing to be recognised. My mind is a bit blown at the moment.

“I am so, so grateful to Gymshark and everyone here really smashed it. There’s not one person here who did not deserve a win.”

Joint second prize went to Jessica Basey and Tara Newton. Jessica’s outfit was based on muscle compression and muscle performance, so her outfit was designed to fit her model like a glove with support around the biceps, chest and legs to combat fatigue.

GYM SHARK separate pic

She said: “I’m quite surprised to get this prize but so happy. It took a lot of technical effort to create the garment and I had to relearn a lot about muscle performance. I plan to carry on with this theme into my final year project.”

Tara’s winning garment was inspired by a jungle theme and animal prints.

GYM SHARK other pic

She said: “This has been an amazing opportunity and it is great to be in the top three. Gymshark is so current and to be designing something that they are inspired by is incredible.”

Third place went to Heledd Davies whose garments were made out of recycled fishing nets and plastic. Even the elastic was off-cuts from the Stretchline factories.

GYM SHARK another

Heledd, who works part-time in DMU’s QEII Leisure Centre, said: “My project was about the plastic crisis in the oceans and pushing recycling to the forefront of the industry. I am really happy and very excited about going to the Gymshark HQ.”

Posted on Thursday 14th March 2019

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