Some of you may remember the fashion writing competition that we promoted at the end of last year for Freemans. Well, the time has flown by and the winners were announced recently, with Harriet Oliver from Manchester Metropolitan bagging herself an iPad and the opportunity to write for Freemans. We took a trip over to Manchester to speak to Harriet.
What course are you currently on?
I‘m studying Fashion Buying, but actually want to go into writing now. My Dad lives in London and I studied a diploma there at the Fashion Retail Academy. I was involved in buying, merchandising, styling and PR, and that’s where my interest in buying came from. The reason that I changed my mind to doing writing rather than buying was probably because I did some work experience a while ago and found that although the people there were great, I just found it wasn’t for me.
What made you choose Manchester?
If I’m honest, Manchester wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to go to London and applied to London College of Fashion but unfortunately didn’t get in, and Manchester was my second choice. However I’m actually really glad that I chose it and I think it’s worked out for the best.
Do you enjoy your course?
The course here is great because it also integrates finance and the logistics of business – you can actually set up your own business as an alternative to writing a dissertation (which I’m currently in the process of writing). If you’re interested in buying then I’d definitely recommend the course – there are loads of opportunities that the university present us with and they get very involved if we want to do placements. I think it’s also one of the only places that offers a course specifically aimed at buying. Although I now want to do writing, the knowledge that I’ve gained from the course will translate into that.
How did you find out about the competition?
My head of year told me about the competition, and although a lot of the competitions are about buying, this one interested me more. I’ll definitely be inspired to apply for more competitions, because winning the iPad was amazing, but the exposure from winning the competition is really beneficial. There aren’t many fashion writing competitions around unfortunately.
What’s Manchester like as a place?
Manchester is great, but cold! There’s a lot going on and although I did have my sights set on studying in London, the campus-based lifestyle is something I’ve enjoyed and probably wouldn’t have experienced there.
Who inspires you?
In terms of high end designers, I love Chanel and Louis Vuitton, but then who doesn’t? I’m more inspired by the clothes that are more accessible to someone of my age – I’m a big fan of Zara and buy a lot of a vintage clothing.
Do you think high end fashion designers sometimes create the wrong images for people to aspire to?
I don’t necessarily think that you can make a sweeping statement about all designers and say that they promote the wrong image, people are individual. However I did read recently that Karl Lagerfeld had been quoted in an interview saying that Adele was too fat, and obviously that’s very harsh. As an outspoken and clever guy he unfortunately gets away with saying things like that, but there’s a sense of responsibility that I think all designers should have when people are looking to you for inspiration. A lot of people and companies are promoting plus-size models which I think is a good thing, but at the same time it’s equally unhealthy to be overweight as it is to be underweight, it’s more about finding a healthy balance.
What’s your plan for when you graduate?
I’d like to do an MA afterwards but the price does put me off. One of my lecturers (who supposedly used to work at Vogue) gets involved with the competitions, and has said that he will help me put a portfolio together and get a job when my dissertation is finished. I did some work experience down in London last summer at Secret Sales which made me interested in styling as well as writing. Ideally I’d like to work for a magazine!
You can keep up with Harriet’s work on her blog.