Shirley enjoys seeing samples of her designs and the finished products in the shop for her work at Fila

How did you get into fashion?

After university, where I studied fashion design, I interned at Puma, on the lifestyle design team. I got the internship through a competition brief I did at university in my final year. It was really useful in showing me how the sportswear industry works and what commercial fashion design is actually like. I think this is something they can't teach you at university.

By doing my internship I was able to soak everything up, whilst working on my portfolio to apply for the right job when it came up.

There's a ton of competition when you graduate, so don't be downhearted by a few rejections

Do you need a fashion degree to do your job?

My degree is very relevant. I think first and foremost a passion for design is integral to getting a job in the industry, and this shows through your portfolio.

Creating a collection in third year really tests how passionate you are, and increased my drive to do what I wanted to.

What is it like being a fashion designer?

On a daily basis, I'll usually try to check a few websites such as Selectism, Hypebeast and then look at WGSN (a fashion trend spotting website).

I find sites like Hypebeast really good as the comments show immediate responses to new releases (of apparel, trainers, home ware, etc.) and this gives me an idea of what certain brands are doing. You can also come across brands you'd never heard of who you obviously need to check out.

Depending on which brief I'm working on, I'll then build a colour palette and look at trims and details, and silhouettes I want to include, and then get working on designs.

How did the collection with Urban Outfitters happen?

An Urban Outfitters buyer got in touch so we arranged a meeting, went through the archive and went from there.

What did you enjoy about the collaboration?

Fila doesn't currently do a women's wear vintage line so it was great to create something exclusive for Urban Outfitters that represented what Fila is about but also brought something new to the table.

How much of your individuality went into the designs?

Every collection starts with a brief, and consideration of the target buyers. As somebody who shops at Urban Outfitters, I was able to think about what I would want to buy, whilst staying true to Fila.

A lot of the styles in this collection are adaptations of men's vintage styles, but the print pieces reflect the current 90s trend which is big.

What do you enjoy about working in fashion?

I like seeing the process from start to finish. It's exciting seeing samples come in that you've designed, and even better seeing them in stores. The office is really fun and we have a good team to assist with graphics, etc. I really enjoy all areas of my work from researching to design.

Brands like Fila have such a rich heritage and so many key pieces to reference, and its great working for a brand which has that history. We recently added a lot of items to our archive that we'd bought off a private collector - it's cool to find stuff in there that doesn't even look like Fila.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

It's sometimes hard when briefs are very open and you have to guess what the buyer is asking for. It can be challenging when you've got a tight deadline and a ton of tech packs to do.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into fashion design?

There's a ton of competition when you graduate, so don't be downhearted by a few rejections. A huge part of getting a job is about whether you'll fit in with a team, so always be yourself.

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