Designing fashion for the future with a blast from the past: DMU Alumna of the Month Sam Tretton


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Sam Tretton is helping to change the damaging cycle of fast-fashion with her bespoke and sustainable designs.

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De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) ‘Alumna of the Month’ recently launched her clothing line 'Jam Boutique', which reimagines vintage fabrics into one-of-a-kind items, with a store called 'Jam Box' opening in Margate to house the brand.

Sam gained the confidence to start her own business after working in Amsterdam as a design manager for leading fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger. She landed the role designing for their swimwear and loungewear team after graduating from Contour Fashion at DMU in 2010. 

During her time there she made the most of opportunities to explore and improve the brand’s efforts in sustainability.

“I'm very proud of an initiative I started with one of Tommy Hilfiger's Portuguese factories, where I secured the excess, cast-off raw materials for use in creating limited edition, one of a kind designs,” she said.

The experience of working with environmentally-conscious and bespoke designs, as well as gaining a deeper understating of the alternatives to fast-fashion, inspired Sam to take the plunge and start her own business.

Her start-up has already gained valuable industry exposure after she showcased her line in the ‘change makers’ section of the 2019 Interfilière Paris Bodyfashion trade show.

“I was invited to give a 10-minute presentation on my story and sustainable fashion to 500 VIP guests,” she said. "The fashion community has been so kind and receptive.”

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Sam’s key to creating sustainable fashion is to design clothes that are seasonless and timeless, thinking carefully about her fabrics: what they are made of and where they come from.

“I feel a responsibility to create long-lasting products that people would love and wear for a long time,” she said.

“I really push to make use of quality cotton, recycled polyester and alternative fabrics like Tencel and Lenzing products which have a positive impact both environmentally and for the rights of workers involved in their production.”

Being her own boss has given Sam the freedom to pursue freelance opportunities with a range of exciting brands and designers, including the launch of ‘The Messi Brand’ which she worked on with Ginny Hilfiger.

Sam also works with Keighley College to help children with behavioural or disability issues engage with fashion and design, as well as regularly giving guest lectures to current DMU students.

She said: "Staying in contact with my lecturers has allowed me to go back and work with aspiring young designers.

"I learned a fantastic amount at DMU: the blend of digital design work and practical elements like pattern cutting, sewing and using industrial machinery gave me an appreciation for all stages of the production process.

"We also had the chance to work with great quality materials provided by corporate sponsors and had the close support of amazing teachers.”

The graduate joined the DMU for Life Fashion Network as a way of maintaining her connection with the university. Run on LinkedIn, the network is open to current students, alumni, and industry professionals, giving participants lifelong support to develop their careers.

“I look forward to continuing to share my experiences" she said.

Posted on Friday 3rd January 2020

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