menswear by ciara knight

Graduates 2021: Ciara Knight: Fashion Design with Business Studies

“Leaving university with experience already on my CV is a relief…the placement taught everyone a lot, from knowing what sector you either want to be in or don’t want to be in to improving your skills in construction, the creative cloud or just general time management and professionalism.

Hi Ciara, tell us a bit about your work and your influences

“My final year at the University of Brighton has given me time to develop my practise as a menswear designer. Focus has been placed primarily on textile design, unusual fabrics and styling within my collection; ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’. During the first lockdown I had finished my placement year and was planning on using those months to work and research for my final collection.

“Research has always been a tactile and integral part of the design process with visits to vintages shops, libraries and exhibitions, all of which wasn’t possible. My best option was to start exploring what was around me. Luckily my dad’s a bit of a hoarder so I started sifting through boxes of his life including slide film, childhood diaries and scouts uniform. It occurred to me that similar traits of collecting interesting or odd objects had been passed down to me. I compiled my own cabinet of curiosity full of objects that caught my attention including; stamps, polaroid photographs, random oddities from an abandoned Scottish cottage and other unique items when charity shops and vintage stores opened again, each making me curious or reminiscent of a place or time.

“These artefacts have then been used to inform every part of the design and styling that appears in my collection. Fascinated by different art forms, I try to pull in a wide range of references from films such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, photographers; Don Mcphee, sculptors; Jamie Hawesworth and Artists; Vera Frenkel.

How have you found your course and time at Brighton?

“Brighton has been the best years of my life so far. I’ve tried to grab every opportunity I can to make the most of both my course and other interests. While some parts have been challenging Fashion Design with business studies has provided me with the design skills I had hoped to gain and pushed me to achieve my potential which I am really grateful for. Placement year was also a really important part of the course. I carried out two placements, one at a menswear brand, Ahluwalia and another at a gender inclusive brand, Charles Jeffery Loverboy. It was challenging living in London for 7 months and not getting paid but to know that I am leaving University with experience already on my CV is a relief. I think it was a consensus across the whole course that placement taught everyone a lot, from knowing what sector you either want to be in or don’t want to be in to improving your skills in construction, the creative cloud or just general time management and professionalism. 

“Brighton as a place to live has exceeded expectations. I have lived In three different parts of the city and each has had huge positives! It is an incredibly creative city with people always interested in collaborations or helping you reach your vision. If your worried about not fitting in, Brighton is the place to come, it has something for absolutely everyone. The university has lots clubs and societies. I have participated in dance and the surf society which gave me a nice break from my course, helped me make new friends that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and also allowed us to make the most of Brighton seafront. The university also allows you to start new clubs or societies if there isn’t something to suit you.

How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Fashion Design?

“There were two deciding factors for choosing my course. I wanted to be close to the coast as I have grown up next to it so it feels like home away from home and the other reason was that it is the only course in the UK that provides fashion design with business studies. Having the knowledge of business with the fashion design skills was exactly what I was searching for. The University of Brighton ticked both of these boxes for me so it was a pretty easy decision.

“I came down from Scotland so I had only been to Brighton once for my University interview before I moved here, it was a bit nerve-racking but I just tried to think about the fact everyone was moving to a new city and it was absolutely fine! After my foundation course in art and design I applied for textiles, fashion and sculpture at different universities. I wasn’t 100% set on fashion but I thought the city and university looked amazing and the fact that it was the only course with academic skills added on sealed my decision. Looking back, I’m so grateful I took this route as I can see myself working as a menswear designer when I graduate.”

Watch Ciara’s YouTube post

What are your plans after graduation?

“I’ve realised this is something that is difficult to plan. I am keeping an open mind about where I go and what I do. As everything is uncertain right now I’ve written a list of things that I would like to achieve including working abroad, using the skills I have learnt to try and improve the sustainability of the industry, keep using my creativity by making and designing, and enjoy myself because coronavirus and final year has been hard.

Follow @ciara_knight on Instagram 

On LinkedIn search for Ciara Knight 

Link to research video on YouTube (I can send this to you if you’d prefer) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGk2MRVYeSQ&t=1s

Find out about studying Fashion Design with Business Studies BA(Hons) at Brighton.

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