Skip to content

NTU Fashion Students celebrate 10 years of the iconic Emoji brand

Global licensing agency, Wildbrain CPLG, challenges NTU fashion students to create designs celebrating 10 years of the iconic emoji® brand

NTU Fashion and Wildbrain CPL logos next to a person in shades

WildBrain CPLG (WBCPLG) is one of the world's leading entertainment, sport and brand licensing agencies with offices in 20 countries. They have supported NTU fashion students with several high-profile brand projects over recent years, raising awareness and understanding of the many varied opportunities for design careers in the global brand licensing sector.

Earlier this year, WBCPLG set 23 final-year students of BA Fashion Design an exciting new brief to celebrate 10 years of the renowned emoji® brand. The registered emoji® trademark operates across 45 categories of goods and services in more than 150 countries around the world.

The Challenge: Under the theme ‘United by Emotions®’ tap into the emoji® brand in a modern way to design a collection of 8-10 garments for womenswear, menswear or unisex.

  • Students were asked to develop innovative, directional concepts that pushed the brand in new ways; simply putting an emoji on a garment was not an option. Designs should consider sustainability, with thought also given to values around diversity and inclusivity.
  • The student collections needed to be commercially suitable for limited print production runs and could be aimed at varied market sectors – either designer, upper end, high street or for brand collaborations.

Working with a set of brand design guidelines, the students undertook market and customer research to help them develop concepts, sketchbooks and detailed design drawings. They each produced a digital portfolio to answer the brief and present a collection lineup.

The 15-week project was overseen by Wildbrain CPLG’s Creative Services Director, Michael Ogunseitan, and Senior Partnerships Manager, Anna McArdle. They were joined by licensing design experts Sarah Swindell, MD, and Gemma

Aveling, Studio Manager, of Watermelon Creative, an established design agency who work closely with the company to develop creative solutions for many of their licensed brands.

After the final presentations and a full review in the spring term of 2023, the panel decided to award three students with prizes due to the high standards and breadth of ideas in the submissions.

First place was awarded to a delighted Mingfei Liu for her concept, the E-Love Letter. She received a £500 prize and a week-long work placement at the Wildbrain CPLG London offices. Second and Third places went to Poppy Wilson and Georgia Oliver respectively, each of whom received a £250 prize and said how much they had learned from the project.

  • Design by Mingfei Liu
    Mingfei Liu, BA Fashion Design
  • Design by Mingfei Liu
    Mingfei Liu, BA Fashion Design

Mingfei Liu’s E-love letter concept: The judges loved the cool direction of her idea, which showed a well-researched understanding of the market and the emoji brand. Her idea pushed the brand with new interpretations whilst still being recognisably emoji.

  • Designs by Poppy Wilson, BA Fashion Design
    Poppy Wilson, BA Fashion Design
  • Designs by Poppy Wilson, BA Fashion Design
    Poppy Wilson, BA Fashion Design

Poppy Wilson’s idea, NTU x Street Art, incorporated a charity initiative and was praised for its well-considered sustainability angle and commercial, graffiti-style pattern development with the use of denim.

  • Designs by Georgia Oliver, BA Fashion Design
    Georgia Oliver, BA Fashion Design
  • Designs by Georgia Oliver, BA Fashion Design
    Georgia Oliver, BA Fashion Design

Georgia Oliver’s concept was selected for its strong element of colour psychology analysis, and emotional expression through the clothing designs. She also incorporated ideas inspired by Emoji Town.

NTU’s course leader of BA Fashion Design, Emma Prince, said “We’re really grateful to Wilbdrain CPLG for the amazing opportunities they give to our students, and to Watermelon Creative for their support throughout this whole project process. The emoji brand competition has given the students a chance to develop fashion concepts from a different perspective and to learn more about the opportunities for design in branding and licensing, which is a really exciting global industry”

Creative Services Director at Wilbrain CPLG said "Tapping into young talent is vital for the future of our industry. Finding fresh perspectives and designers who can stretch the boundaries can be challenging, but what I love about working with new talent, such as the NTU students, is being able to nurture and encourage that mindset."

Read more about industry reaction to this project here.

  • Notes for editors

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 25 August 2023
  • Category: Current students; School of Art & Design