Katie Michelle-Hughes

BA (Hons) Fashion Design (with sandwich) graduate (2016)

BA (Hons) Fashion Design graduate Katie Michelle Hughes has known from an early age that she wanted to study fashion, after getting her first sewing machine and mannequin at the age of just 11 years old. Katie explains why she chose to come to UCLan: “After choosing to undertake a foundation year close to home, I looked at a lot of universities both up north and in London. For me it was the campus and the facilities, along with the friendly tutors which made me choose UCLan.”

After graduating in 2016, Katie travelled to Kuala Lumpur with UCLan where she showcased pieces from her final year collection. Making the move back to London after the summer, Katie was sceptical about making such a big move without a job, however, she knew that it was the place to be if she wanted to pursue her career. “After a month of being in London, I was ecstatic to get a job with a new up and coming brand who already have several international stockists.”

Working as a Studio Assistant / Pattern Cutter for high-end womenswear brand ‘Roberts | Wood’, Katie works in a small team in a “very hands on” studio. “I get involved in every aspect from new season development through to sales and production. I generally work closely with the designer, creating first patterns from sketches, toiling, pattern amendments, developing finishes, cutting and sewing show samples, finalising patterns for production, grading, assisting with tech packs as well as general studio tasks and managing our lovely interns.”

As well as having a sewing machine at an early age, Katie remembers being taught to knit and sew by her gran. With the fashion course at UCLan offering a sandwich placement, Katie was able to put these skills into practice. “I worked for two companies, spending half of my year working for a small boutique called ‘Lola Loves’ based in Liverpool. The role was very hands on, pattern cutting and sewing on a daily basis. I then moved down to London to undertake an internship at a sample studio called ‘Nylander Couture’ where I took on much more responsibility. Alongside pattern cutting and sewing tasks, I also got involved in client meetings and was given my own projects to manage.”

Katie’s experience of being able to take a sandwich year in industry has had a major impact on her current employment. She explains that this was a deciding factor when choosing to come to UCLan. “Having a year out in industry, while still being in the safety net of being a student, really helped me blossom and I learned so much for both my final year and my career in general. It gave me confidence in myself and let me put the skills I had learned into practise and believe that I really do have what it takes to work in this industry.”

Fashion students produce final year collections that are selected to show at Graduate Fashion Week in London and at the Preston Fashion Show in Venue 53. Katie reflects on her final year as she describes her lasting memory of UCLan. “Working all hours and stressing all the time, but how everyone on the course pulled together to support each other was really amazing. We became such a close-knit unit, which helped everyone to get through together. Seeing my final collection walk down the catwalk was definitely an unforgettable moment.”

Katie would like to give some advice to any graduates wanting to do something similar, or to anyone looking to study fashion at UCLan. “Don’t underestimate the time, effort and stress involved in studying fashion. Be prepared to be living with people who have two lectures a week and one essay due in three months while you are drowning in a mountain of fabric samples, but it’s so worth it! Really strive to get the most out of your degree, and get as much experience as you can from internships and by really pushing yourself with your projects.”