Graduate to Watch: Chloe Jackson, Nottingham Trent

Graduate Fashion Week showcases the work of more than 1,000 of the very best students across fashion and Nottingham Trent University always brings a strong selection of textile-heavy collections, and this year’s standout designer had to be Chloe Jackson.

Her playful and colourful collection inspired by her experience at Camp Fernwood in America, not only wowed the audiences during the Gala fashion show, those Minnie Mouse-style baseball caps were an Instagram favourite, but her collection scooped the prestigious N Brown Textile Award.

FashionUnited sat down with the talented graduate after her win to find out why Fernwood inspired her, how she developed those prints, why she opted to study at Nottingham Trent, as well as her plans for the future.

Why did you want to be a fashion designer?

“As a child, I always wanted to be in the performing arts industry. It wasn’t until I was in high school and I began to study textiles that I developed an interest in sewing. I started honing my skills by making cushions and quilts and then when I was 14, I started making clothes - and I haven’t stopped since.

“I was always torn between pursuing fashion design or performing arts as a career, but upon achieving my GCSE results, I decided to opt for my new found love of fashion and went on to study Fashion Design at Leicester College of Art and Design for two years, before moving on to study Fashion Design at Nottingham Trent University for a further three years.”

Graduate to Watch: Chloe Jackson, Nottingham TrentWhat was the inspiration for your graduate collection?

“My inspiration for my collection started by answering the FAD competition brief ‘A sense of place’, my sense of place was Camp Fernwood, an American summer camp that I spent three months teaching at in 2015. My summer was an adventure of many happy memories and having the opportunity to turn this into a mini collection has been the perfect way to bring my memories back to life. The brief allowed me to strip back to basics and step away from Google which coincides with the values of Fernwood in terms of reducing your reliance on technology.”

What fabrics/techniques did you use?

“My collection focuses a lot on the print work and combining unusual fabrics together. The print was all created by myself based around some of the girls faces that I taught when I was in America. This was created using a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator and was probably one of the most time-consuming processes, especially as my collection included a lot of box pleats and the print needed to line up. I included various types of neoprene, which proved to be a challenge to work with especially as it was so thick. The collection also included PVC, cotton velvet, leather, and cotton drill.”

Did you enjoy your Graduate Fashion Week experience?

“Graduate Fashion Week has been a week full of dreams come true. I can’t begin to explain how much the event has already impacted my life. I still find the experience surreal and have enjoyed every minute. I have put in so much time and effort into my collection so it was a really amazing feeling to finally have all that hard work recognised at such a prestigious event. Having the opportunity of showcasing at GFW has given me a really good chance to get my work out there and in turn lead to several employers contact me for work opportunities which is amazing.”

Why did you choose to study at Nottingham Trent University?

“I opted for Nottingham Trent as I was aware that it was one of the best fashion design courses outside of London. It is very renowned for having good technical skills and I always enjoyed pattern cutting when I was at college so knew that Nottingham would be a good choice for me. When deciding what university to go to the content within the course was also very important. I wanted it to be very practical and to give me the grounds for a successful career in the fashion industry.”

What was the most valuable thing you learned on your course?

“Always wear waterproof mascara, you’ll never know when you need it! Oh and have a lot of patience when things don't always go to plan. I can guarantee nothing will ever go right the first time. Time management is always key, there’s a lot of work to do with many deadlines to meet.”

What do you wish you had been told before you started your degree?

“It is a very demanding course in terms of your budget and time. It is essential to prepare well in advance of any deadlines, they have a habit of creeping up on you!”

What are your plans now that you've graduated?

“I’m currently freelancing for a company at the moment which is really exciting stuff. I have also had a lot of opportunities open for me since showcasing at Graduate Fashion week so I fully believe that you should grab every opportunity with open arms and embrace the madness whilst it lasts!”

“In an ideal world I would love to hopefully own my own fashion label but that takes a lot of time and experience to do so. Until then I hope to build my contacts within the industry and hopefully work my way up in the fashion business.”

What advice would you give someone considering studying fashion?

“Always consider the opportunity of having a gap year even if your course doesn't include it in the curriculum. I understand it isn’t for everyone but you need to ensure that you have enough funding behind you to support your final collection which will cost you a small fortune. Always utilise your summer holidays during the first and second year with getting experience in the industry. This will strengthen your CV and also give you a lot more knowledge and contacts for when it comes to your final year.”

Did you undergo any design placements?

“I struggled with getting placements during my degree as a lot of them were based in London which is never great when you don’t know anybody that lives there so funding an internship becomes near impossible. I did, however, do a couple of months at Christopher Raeburn which allowed me to understand how a real life fashion design business works and to experience the industry first hand. I was also fortunate enough to be involved with helping behind the scenes when showcasing at London Fashion Week which is always a fashion student's dream.”

Images: courtesy of Chloe Jackson