Sustainable textiles designs help Anna sew the seeds for success

Clearing empowered Anna Thorn to pursue her creativity at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), leading to prestigious bursaries and a clear pathway into the fashion industry.

Anna at the DMU Degree Show

Originally set to study geography, Anna was worried she might regret her decision not to follow her creative passion, and came across Fashion Textile Design at DMU while researching her options.

The 21-year-old from Derbyshire said: “Choosing what you want to do for the rest of your life is such a massive decision and I was really torn. I’ve always loved fashion but thought going down an academic route would be a ‘safer’ option, although I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

“When I came to an Open Day at DMU, it just felt so right for me. Fashion Textile Design offered everything I was looking for and I knew DMU would push me in terms of the facilities it offers, a vibe I didn’t get at other universities.

“Ironically, when I got my A-level results, my worse grade was in textiles and I had to apply to DMU through Clearing. I was quite stressed on the day, but everyone I spoke to was really nice and knew exactly what way to point me in, making the process easier than I imagined.”

Pushing the boundaries with her experimental knitwear

Despite being set to graduate from DMU with a First this summer, it wasn’t all plane sailing for Anna after being accepted through Clearing. She felt ‘out of her depth’ during the first year of her degree and opted to interrupt her studies and regroup.

“I had a hard time finding my feet after being on an academic path for so long. I felt like my skills weren’t as good as everyone else’s and I took my failures too personally,” she said.

“During my year away working, I realised that if I didn’t go back I would feel like I had failed myself and would regret not giving it a proper go. I sat down with my tutor to explain how I was feeling and he was really supportive. His passion for the course is so inspiring and gave me the motivation to carry on.

“I definitely made the right decision and over the years I’ve slowly gained the confidence to believe that I’m good enough to be here and that I deserve a place in the industry.”

The collection that earned Anna a £1,500 bursary

Anna’s hard work and determination paid off, and her innovative knitwear experiments were recognised with a £1,500 bursary from the historic The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters this year.

By making use of DMU’s extensive workshops, Anna was able to explore how materials such as leather, plastic and metal can affect the way knitwear drapes.

She said: “DMU’s facilities are second-to-none and I absolutely loved trying out as many specialisms as I could to combine traditional knitwear with more modern technologies.

Her prize-winning garment utilises elastic to shape fluid knitwear and features metal shoulder and belt details. “Winning the bursary was a massive confidence boost,” she said.

“To have my tutor put me forward for this award in the first place was really special, and to then be recognised by industry professionals for my work was a proud moment.”


Anna's final collection, awarded a £250 bursary from DMU

Featuring luxurious layers of fine knitwear manipulated by body jewellery made from galvanised steel, Anna’s final collection earned her a £250 Sydney Marcus Roadley Award from DMU.

She said: “I’m really proud to have been recognised for my use of deadstock yarns, existing metal materials, and my continual thought process about how I can be a more sustainable designer and contribute to slow fashion.

“DMU takes fashion really seriously and that’s what I love about it. We have a whole building dedicated to art and design so you can really get the most out of your experience and achieve exactly what you set out to.

“I feel like the last three years have helped me to find out who I am as a person and to learn to believe in myself.

Anna is now waiting to hear if she has secured an internship with a world-famous British luxury fashion house, and hopes to continue exploring how new technologies can lead to knitwear designs that support individuals in ways such as recovering from surgeries or preventing injuries.

Follow Anna on Instagram for new designs and updates.

Posted on Monday 11th July 2022

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