As this issue of the magazine is our fashion edition, we carry the theme through to our business hour feature, where we talk to three alumni (ex-fashion students) of the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, to find out where their careers in the fashion industry have led them to today
The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) fashion department has recently been ranked in the top 80 fashion schools in the world. The creative subject, which has also been ranked second in the north west of England and 15th in the United Kingdom, received the 2020 global ranking from CEOWORLD Magazine.
The classification process considered global reputation and influence, specialisation, recruiter’s feedback, job placement rates, admission eligibility and academic experience as well as data from more than 40,000 students, 50,000 industry professionals and 30,000 recruiters.
Maria Murray, head of UCLan’s School of Art, Design and Fashion, said: “This is fantastic news for everybody involved with our fashion department. Not only is this a boost for our fabulous teaching staff and our enthusiastic and creative students but it’s also great for prospective students, our alumni and interested stakeholders.
“We have really close links with some of the biggest fashion labels in the world, including Burberry, M&S, Reebok, Abercrombie & Fitch, Levi, and the feedback we often get from these industry professionals is how our fashion department is one of the best in the business.”
So, with all this success at the university, it’s no wonder that students do well once they graduate.
Lynne McKenna, one former student, is now fashion editor of Fabulous Magazine in London. She studied fashion promotion at UCLan and her interest in fashion started as a child, when she would sketch dresses for her mum and the dresses she wanted her to wear when she attended the RAF balls with her dad.
“I was always passionate about fashion and was given a fashion wheel as a birthday present and it just progressed from there,” she said. “My dad was in the air force and we travelled a lot. We were lucky enough to live abroad and in many places around the UK. I chose UCLan for my sandwich course. Interning was a huge part of my degree and without it I wouldn’t have known about the many careers there were to choose from. When I graduated, I initially became fashion assistant at You Magazine.”
She’s now an award-winning fashion editor currently working at Fabulous Magazine producing, directing and styling innovative, exciting and adventurous fashion shoots. Lynne’s experience and knowledge in the fashion industry has led to roles as fashion expert for ITV’s Lorraine and panellist on the Lorraine High Street Fashion Awards for two consecutive years.
“I love fashion because of its creativity, people, the experiences and opportunities it has given me, such as travel, as well as the friendships I have made by working in such a sociable and fun industry,” she added. “UCLan is an opportunity for anyone interested in fashion to learn about the different careers you’re interested in.”
Nic Corrigan went to UCLan to study fashion design in 2003 and graduated in 2007, having specialised in knitwear. “I went on a work placement at Coast in London and while I was there, they were having a clear out and they gave me a free knitting machine, which I used to produce my final collection,” says Nic.
“I had always hand knitted before I went to UCLan. I enjoy the fact that with machine knitting you have so much scope. UCLan has a good reputation for fashion and it was also in an area in that I wanted to be in. I was a mature student, but when I went for my interview, I knew instantly it was the right place for me.
“When I graduated, I did some freelance work for New Look and worked for suppliers to River Island and Arcadia stores, designing samples, getting them produced in the Far East and securing orders. It was really exciting and glamourous going to Paris and Hong Kong, but after seven years, I became a bit disillusioned by fast fashion and I’d moved away from doing the creative work and spent most of my time in meetings.
“Back in 2014 I decided to take the plunge and work for myself and I set up my own studio in Hebden Bridge. I now also have a shop in my studio that sells the work of other local artists such as ceramicists, jewellers, print makers and photographers. All the work is designed and made within 20 miles of the shop.”
Nic now goes back to UCLan once a year to teach knitwear to students. “It’s a one-day masterclass,” says Nic. “It’s a very intensive run through on machine knitting and a chance for students to finalise their collections.”
Sana Zinga is now a fashion designer with her own brand Valenci. Valenci’s story started back in October 2016, after Sana graduated with a 1st class degree in fashion design from UCLan. She soon realised her passion was to start her own business and established Sana Zinga Ltd.
She worked from her grandad’s attic as a 21year-old with no business experience, which was a huge learning curve. However, with hard work, determination and perseverance, the results started to show, as she successfully launched several collections under the Sana Zinga brand.
“My passion was to provide high quality garments with high end looks at affordable prices and soon I was experiencing rapid online growth. It was then as the brand was continuing to grow that I made the decision to rebrand – hence Valenci was born with new premises in Blackburn.
Not only can customers choose from original ready to wear or made to measure pieces, Sana has also created her own wedding dress collection. Customers can create their own bespoke dress, working with Sana around budget to find the colour, design and fabric for the perfect fit. Her customers come from as far as South Africa and Australia.