In the second interview of our meet the team series, we asked Christina Burke, our Design Manager, for her thoughts on JSD, her career and the design industry.
How do you develop your understanding of a client’s brand and culture?
We hit the ground running by undertaking extensive online research of the brand, looking at the brands entire history and key values. We also ask the client to fill out our questionnaire, for us to gain more insight, with questions such as “Do you require separate uniforms for summer and winter?” or “What jobs would the wearer perform on a day to day basis?”
This is closely followed up with a visit to the client’s location, where we can meet the staff in their place of work and learn more about the brand. This is a chance for us to ask a lot of questions, and take photos to refer back to.
We then have a full briefing with the client where we ask further questions and gain clarification of their requirements. The client will also send us a copy of their brand guidelines, which details how to use the logo and the brand colours. At this point we have a very good understanding of what is required.
Tell us about a particularly challenging project?
We were asked by a client to make their staff more visible to the public but in an innovative way. The staff wore standard Hi-Vis tabards so the aim was to remove the Hi-Vis whilst keeping them visible! We achieved a good result by using reflective trims, prints and innovative fabrics, which resulted in a far more stylish uniform that would still provide safety whilst at work. It seems that more and more companies are becoming increasingly conscious of how their protectivewear looks, and over the last few years the industry has been developing innovative ways of catering to this demand. You can read more about the rise of fashionable protectivewear in our recent post.
To what extent do you advise clients on their designs, would you ever advise against something a client felt strongly about?
In the Design department we deal with all aspects of the finished product right from initial concept, where the client asks us to come up with a story, to the branding, fabric, silhouette, fit, right through to finished garment. I am there at the very beginning and will often meet with the branding and marketing managers to ensure that I fully understand the requirements. We work together on the designs to make sure we adhere to their brief and branding, however we also consult and guide the client towards designs we feel would work best.
I like to remind the client of the initial objectives, and review what we have at that point. If this doesn’t line up with our initial aim we then consider what we can do to improve the outlook. I am also a firm believer that you shouldn’t put anything forward that you don’t believe in from the beginning.
How do you keep up to date on trends and innovations within your industry?
I’m naturally inquisitive and like to stay ahead of what is out there or on its way. I spend a lot of time visiting fabric fairs and design exhibitions, I follow bloggers, (Caroline Mode is one of my favourites) read magazines and look at websites. I am also a member of the Victoria and Albert Museum and like to spend a lot of time in there, I most recently visited the Alexander McQueen exhibition (4 times).
We also subscribe to WGSN and Style Sight, which are leading online trend forecasting services that look at trends three years in advance. We use this tool to gather inspiration at the beginning of a design project.
If JSD had a uniform what would it be like?
As everyone is so different here at Jermyn Street Design, agreeing on a style would be difficult. Although, if I had it my way, I would like everyone to be dressed in black from head to toe as black is my favourite colour to wear. It is sophisticated, sleek and classic.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I really enjoy presenting my ideas to a room full of people as I get to fully explain my idea, an idea that I’m passionate about. I like to get very interactive with the client and take them on a visual journey through my creative process. This includes looking at their branding and any logos that might spark something within me, then moving on to visuals, such as colour boards, trend boards, hand drawn sketches and final line up boards.
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement was being selected to show my collection at London Fashion Week whilst I was studying for my MA – I studied Fashion Womenswear at Central Saint Martins. The best part of the experience was being able to share it with my identical twin sister, Christine who was also selected to show her collection.
If you could design a uniform for any company/brand who would it be and why?
I would like to re-design the Atelier overcoats for the Louis Vuitton workshops in France. These overcoats are an all-time classic and I’m sure they have never been altered since the origination of the design house. I would like to update it in a friendly innovative way, whilst ensuring I capture the heritage of the brand.
What do you think about eco-fashion and sustainability of fabrics?
There has been a great deal of progress in sustainable fabrics, but I would like to see the large design houses using these fabrics more, only then will it truly filter onto the high street.
What is the most embarrassing piece of clothing or accessory you have worn?
I cringe now, but I used to be so in love with my pink and black Naff Naff cycle shorts – my parents couldn’t get them off me!