An Interview with Lancaster University’s Fashion Society

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Lancaster may be more renowned for its ducks and rain than for fashion, but that hasn’t stopped a whole host of students joining Lancaster University’s Fashion Society, ISSUE. Aiming to provide students with a fun and helpful environment to pursue their love of fashion, ISSUE fills the gap in Lancaster’s societies; where before there was little to no way to engage in fashion within the University, ISSUE plans to create a diverse array of opportunities to allow students to follow their passion while at Lancaster.

So, give us a brief history of ISSUE. Who are you guys and what do you do?

Hi, we are Juan and Amy and we are the Presidents of ISSUE, Lancaster Uni’s first ever Fashion Society.

Juan- When I arrived at the University and went to the Freshers Fair I was expecting to find a Fashion Society as I thought that this would be popular, but I was really disappointed as I wanted to do something with my interests. I spoke to some friends after and they said that it was a shame there wasn’t one, so we thought hey let’s set it up!!

Amy- I joined the Exec team originally as the Affiliations Officer and made contact with lots of people to try and organize events and talks. Juan later asked me to join him as Co-President as I was really passionate about the society and we shared the same vision of what we wanted it to be.

Both- For us we wanted ISSUE to be a place where like-minded people come who are keen to peruse a career in fashion or are just interested like we are. The society isn’t just a place to talk about clothes or what people are wearing and we wanted to break that stigma that we first came across when we set it up. For us, ISSUE is a career and creative tool for all of our members, as we want to bridge the gap between Lancaster and the fashion industry. There are so many huge fashion companies around us like Boohoo in Manchester, but they don’t know we are here! That is why we put on our events, talks, competitions and everything else that we do to create a platform to support our members achieve their aspirations and express themselves whether they are interested in writing, photography, styling or anything else!

 

What kind of person would enjoy being a member of ISSUE? 

Our motto for both our members and our Exec is “whatever you put into the society is what you get out of it.” Our members range from a variety of different backgrounds and interests. We try and help our members by creating opportunities for exposure in whatever they may feel like doing. So ISSUE is a fashion centred society, but we try and create opportunities and a creative platform for all our members. We try and emphasise that, as an Exec, we are approachable and want to be approached by our members who may have an interesting idea for an event, a social, a competition or whatever they wish ISSUE to be.  We welcome all students from any degree with any interests to join and approach us so we can create something great that we can all enjoy. We just want people to get involved!

 

We’re obviously all very lucky to be studying at a top 10 University, but Lancaster isn’t necessarily the easiest starting point for students wishing to go into a fashion career. How can ISSUE help with that?

This is so true, which is a big part of why we set up the society to help people get into fashion and achieve their career goals. As such a new society, we have worked really hard to make connections with people and brands that might be interested in working with us in some way. So far we have a great connection with Manchester University’s School of Materials which hosts all of their fashion degree courses, and we have another speaker from there coming in this term. We are also linked to the Marks and Spencers archive, The Manchester Fashion Network (who are huge), Prestige in town who we have done some great competitions with, plus some local Manchester brands, London designers and bloggers, who we hope to work with soon. It takes a long time to get noticed by big firms but we are working as hard as we can to do so and get them on campus! An exclusive for SCAN, we are also currently in talks with Liverpool Fashion Week to partner with them and offer our members the chance to attend plus gain work experience there running the show!

 

Do you run any events or activities for members?

We run loads of events for members and have some really exciting stuff coming up! We like to emphasise a collaborative aspect to our events and get members involved as much as possible whilst making them really informative and helpful for people interested in the industry. Our most recent event was the “All About Instagram Panel” talk with the Advertising Society which was great for people who are interested in Influencer Marketing. There was a panel of Instagram influencers who came in to talk about their experience and give insider tips on the field. We have an Eras Photo Competition coming up soon as well in collaboration with Prestige where people will be asked to create adverts for the salon equipment in the advertising style from different eras which will then go up in the store, great for anyone doing Advertising or Design courses! We also have another talk from Manchester Uni about 3D body scanning and its impact on retail, as well as a Clothes Swap event in week 17 which is with Green Lancaster to promote recycling of clothes here. Plus we have a trip to the M&S archive next term which we are both really excited about!

 

What’s been your favourite moment since starting ISSUE?

One of the most satisfying moments was launching our ISSUE Writers group and having our first article that we published shared by The Manchester Fashion Network! After all this hard work, we are finally giving our members the chance to express their incredible skills in journalism and have successfully managed to create a stable creative platform. We speak on behalf of all the exec members that this is making our vision for the society materialize which is an incredibly satisfying feeling. We hope to launch an ISSUE photographers group to further create more chances for our members to express their ideas with more to come!

 

Is there anything in particular you’d like for ISSUE to achieve over the next few years?

We want ISSUE to be a large society where people do not feel intimidated to join because they think they’re not “fashionable” enough. Just like every society we want people to be excited and happy to join along with sharing ideas and making this society even more fun and exciting than it already is! We are aiming to run a Careers Fair solely for the fashion industry and to get big companies like Missguided, Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo onto campus!

 

And finally, who are your personal fashion icons and why?

Juan- It is a tacky and cliché answer but Coco Chanel. I admire her classic and timeless art which has had such a profound change in our society. One of the things I most admire about her is the drive that she had to change things and her willingness to speak her own opinion and have such a rebellious attitude in that time period. One quote that I really like from her is “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” She’s more of a role model to me in life rather than just a fashion icon. Kanye West is also someone I really appreciate because his aesthetic is just so unique and so unlike other brands out there. I like the whole rebellious fashion thing.

Amy- For me, I don’t necessarily have one single fashion icon, but I get inspired by lots of people and designers. Like Juan I really admire the work of Chanel and how she pushed boundaries, but I also admire many other designers for this who did so in different way, like McQueen, Balenciaga, Mary Quant, and all the classics! Having worked in a designer fashion house, it’s so interesting to see how many of today’s designs are inspired by these groundbreaking originals and I think it’s so important to give them all credit! I also get a lot of inspiration from bloggers but also just from everyday outfits I see on people. I love to look at how people put items together differently and express themselves. I just wish I had money to wear a new out-there outfit everyday!