Two third year Footwear and Accessories students from the University of Northampton are preparing themselves for the world of work by taking on work placements with luxury leather supplier Tusting and shoe manufacturers Goldline.
Tiffany Ruff and Heather Jenkinson each completed a week’s work experience with Tusting, based in Lavendon, Buckinghamshire after winning an internal competition, which required students to design and present a collection of six bags to owner William Tusting, which were then produced.
Heather said: “The experience at Tusting helped us get a better understanding of the manufacturing process of making bags on a larger scale. We continue to visit the factory once a month to see how our bags are progressing.”
Tiffany was also nominated by Caroline Southernwood, Senior Lecturer in Footwear and Accessories, for sponsorship by Santander to attend the APLF Hong Kong Leather Fair where successful networking led the Fashion and Accessories student to take part in a two-week placement at Stahl, a leather chemical company in Holland.
In their second year, Tiffany and Heather were also given another opportunity to enter an internal competition, this time for Goldline based near Kettering. The competition asked for students to design a collection of shoes. Tiffany and Heather were awarded £250 each and gained a week’s experience in their head office.
Tiffany explains: “The experience at Goldline was different to Tusting. The work placement focused on the stages of research and design. It required us to use WGSN to research trends to develop three mood boards which would help us produce 10 footwear designs. We were also given the opportunity to have one of our designs produced in their factory in China.
“We’re fortunate enough to have these opportunities as it helps us to prepare and understand the fashion industry for when we graduate. It also helps us to develop our skills which we can incorporate in University projects.
Alice Parry, Ladies Footwear Designer at Goldline, said: “The most important part of students having opportunities is so they gain experience within a creative environment.
“As well as design, it exposes them to the other career options within the industry but also prepares them to deal with the challenges and limitations of working with manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. The more experience they gain will ultimately increase their versatility and worth to future employers.”
Caroline Southernwood, Senior Lecturer in Footwear and Accessories at the University of Northampton believes it is important for students to be supported by the local footwear industry.
She commented: “These opportunities give our Footwear and Accessories students realistic insights into the heritage, crafts, skills, technologies and commercial aspects of this unique industry.”
Written by Leanne Matthews