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NTU Fashion Design student Amy Vanderwal


United Kingdom
The support system around you in the studio, from both tutors and fellow students is incomparable, and by the end of the 3 years you’ll feel like you’ve gained a genuine “fashion family”.

More about Amy

What made you choose to study at NTU?
“I felt an instant connection with the university, the art and design building, the fashion studios, the tutors and the city when I visited. I also knew that the Fashion Design course here is one of the best outside of London. I’m glad I chose NTU over every other university.”

What did you enjoy the most about your course?
“I like that being on the course is like being a part of a family. You can bounce ideas off each other, and your course friends and tutors offer a strong support system – I couldn’t have graduated without all of their support! I couldn’t speak highly enough of the tutors and their inspirational knowledge of the industry – they really are experts and will do anything to make sure that you achieve what you are capable of.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your graduate collection?
“By drawing inspiration from Iain McKell’s fascination with 'The New Gypsies', the anarchistic Punk Hippie counterculture of the 1980’s and opposing the poles of punk and New Romanticism, my collection encompassed a sense of youth alongside high concept commercialism. Within this youth protest movement, these larger-than-life characters rebelled against Margaret Thatcher’s attempt to break up the working class hotbed of communism; seeming to hark back to the extremes of the Post-Industrial Revolution—a blot on the British landscape. It was biblical and filmic, with gangs of urban subcultures letting loose in a rural setting; protesters, rioters, gypsies, outlaws, and subversives. Looking further into traveller culture, the photo series 'Travellers Children in London Fields' by Colin O'Brien informed the concept of 'hand-me-down' clothing, with contrasting oversized silhouettes teamed with cropped jackets and trousers - nothing quite fits, emphasising the elusive drama and naivety of gypsy kids. Despite there being a lot of negative propaganda about gypsies - the stereotypes and the fear - the gypsy life has romantic connotations and I was immediately taken with this idea of “punk in the landscape”.”

How did it feel to win the TU Menswear Scholarship at Graduate Fashion Week?
“It was such a whirlwind and very overwhelming! I only found out about the award a few days before the Gala show. After chatting with the TU team, I had a phone call the night before, asking me to return to London for a final interview with Oliver Spencer, which meant I would be shortlisted for the award. When they announced my name as the winner it took me a minute to process that I had actually won! I’m so excited to turn my graduate collection into a wearable, high street alternative and to see it sold in Sainsbury’s stores nationwide!”

What are you most looking forward to when you take up your internship with TU?
“I’m most looking forward to seeing how my graduate collection will evolve into a more wearable, high street version and to see how successful it is once it is sold nationwide in Sainsbury’s stores. I will be flown out in November to wherever we decide to manufacture my collection, which is also very exciting! At the moment it is looking like their will be 2 launches of my collection, one in June with more lightweight pieces, and a second launch in September time, which will consist of heavier weight pieces such as jackets and coats. I hope my designs will also change the stigma behind supermarket clothing ranges and show off how great they can be! It will be interesting to see my Dad wearing some of my designs as well!”

Did the course included any speakers / lecturers from industry?
“We have had a number of guest lectures from industry professionals, but one I distinctly remember was from Christopher Raeburn in my first year. He was a huge inspiration to me and my work during this particular time and was initially the one who inspired me to pursue menswear going forward into my second and third year.”

What did you think about the course staff?
“Every single member of staff helped me as best as they could and were a very strong support system to have when the course got very stressful. They inspired me with their expertise and experience, and encouraged me to challenge myself in order to excel as a person and as a designer. The technicians are a huge help with the manufacturing process, and Deidre in the fabric store is great at keeping students calm during the weeks building up to the fashion show!”

What did you think about the facilities available to you?
“The studios are a great space to work in and be creative. There is lots of space and there are lots of speciality machines, meaning that we were able to create more complex pieces such as leather and denim goods.

“The library is also a great place to work late at night when the studios are closed. When I was writing my dissertation and required specific books that weren’t already in the library, I applied for them to be sent to NTU and within days they were there and ready for me to collect - I couldn’t recommend this service enough as I believe it helped me write a very strong dissertation.”

What did you like about studying and living in Nottingham?
“I like the fact that Nottingham isn’t a huge city. Everything is in walking distance, and it’s really easy to get around quickly without spending a fortune on transport. There are great bars, restaurants and shops for students to enjoy and the creative quarter is always a great place to go to for inspiration!”

Why would you recommend studying Fashion Design at NTU to prospective students?
“I would recommend studying Fashion Design at NTU because you learn so much about yourself not only as a fashion designer, but as a person. The tutors and the industry links they have are incredible and you will continuously been encouraged to produce work to the best of your ability. The support system around you in the studio, from both tutors and fellow students is incomparable, and by the end of the 3 years you’ll feel like you’ve gained a genuine “fashion family”.”

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