A colourful career in fashion forecasting

19 Oct 18
Photo of Lottie Dickens and Savithri Bartlett

Lottie Dickens (pictured above left with Dr Savithri Bartlett) graduated in 2016 with a BA (Hons) Fashion: Media and Marketing and now works in fashion trend forecasting for Coloro, sister brand of WGSN.

On a recent visit to Winchester, Lottie ran a session about fashion forecasting for final year students. She took some time to speak to Dr Savithri Bartlett , Senior Fellow (Knowledge Exchange), who teaches the history of fashion and contexts on the undergraduate BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing programme. The focus of the interview was her job and how studying at Winchester prepared her for a career in the fashion industry.

Lottie, it's lovely to welcome you back to Winchester. Tell us what you've been doing since you graduated in 2016

After graduating, I got a job with trend forecasters WGSN and then moved on to work for its sister brand Coloro as an operations manager. My role is working with our partners globally - including China, Turley and Korea - and communicating with them across multi-channel platforms. I also work on partnerships - we did one recently with Dazed magazine which was a campaign on five key colours for spring summer 2020. The campaign included a webinar, email marketing and a blog. I sit on the team of people that make sure those collaborations are successful.

The third part of my role is managing the development of the website, coordinating tech teams and web developers and working with the marketing team to plan how the website should look from a creative perspective.

My favourite part of the role is working on collaborations, such as the one with Dazed. There's a massive emphasis now in the industry on cross collaborations, because it can give you more credibility when you're working with huge brands and there are so many ways that brands can be creative with one another. Our collaboration with Dazed is a great example: we're not directly linked but it gave us both an opportunity to pull something really cool together.

How did the Fashion: Media and Marketing degree course prepare you for working in the industry?

I think all the course modules were helpful in preparing us for working in the industry.

In the business modules, we presented a lot to our groups and that practice has definitely helped me. Now I often have to stand up and present a Powerpoint of 20-30 slides to large groups of clients and I'm confident doing that.

In the Sociological Perspectives module, you draw from many different themes, such as class, culture, gender, ethnicity and politics, and analyse and try to understand how they influence contemporary fashion. The cultural history of dress was also useful: I'm able to understand contemporary fashion in terms of where it has come from in the past. As an account manager, I'm responsible for maintaining client relationships and to do that - and to be credible - it's crucial to be able to hold a broad conversation about fashion.

My other favourite module was the creative sketch books. I loved creating visual reports on fashion, pulling information from all sorts of different sources and finding different materials to stick in the sketchbook, from photos and drawings to quotes - anything and everything inspirational.

Page from fashion marketing sketch book

(Sketch book image courtesy of Francesca Duggan BA (Hons) Fashion: Marketing and Media alumna graduated 2016)

From a programme perspective, it was great to have lecturers like you, Savithri, and (former lecturer) Alex Shakespeare who we could go to for one-to-one sessions and check how we were progressing. The fact that lecturers support students in that personal way is fantastic.

Do you remember why you chose to come to Winchester to study this course?

I've always loved fashion but never wanted to be a designer. I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry but didn't know what I wanted to do.

I came to an open day at Winchester and heard all about the creativity of the fashion course and immediately knew that it was for me. The fact that the course combined fashion and creativity with the business elements of media and marketing really sold it to me. It made me realise that I could have a career in the business and marketing side of fashion.

At the open day, we did an interactive exercise with you where we made a mood board of emerging fashion trends, prints, colours and silhouettes. I loved making something so visual and that level of creativity. I remember thinking: if I can spend my university lectures doing this, then I'll be happy!

Were there any standout moments of your time at Winchester?

I took part in an exchange programme with Southern Oregon University in my third year, which gave me a chance to study in the USA which I really wanted to do.

I studied Conflict Resolution and Moral Philosophy - subjects that I didn't study at Winchester but fed back into the Sociological Perspectives module on the fashion course. I developed a completely different skill set which is proving useful in my career.

I loved studying in the States - I was there for four months. I got an award for the best performing student from the President of the University. It was great fun but hard work. You have exams every few weeks: it's a completely different type of learning and you have to manage your workload in a different way. I was also on the cheerleading team!

What advice would you give to current fashion marketing students at Winchester who want to find a role in the business side of the fashion industry?

I have two pieces of advice.

First: don't be afraid to be different and do something that sets you apart from the rest. Put in the time and effort to make your CV as creative as possible - definitely think outside the box in terms of presentation!

Don't compare your own timeline with anybody else's. With social media, it's very easy to do that. When you leave university, you need to find what works for you. You need a blinkered focus and know that where you're heading is the right thing for you. Even if it turns out not to be the right thing, your career path is not linear - there are so many directions you can take.

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