18 March 2011

Hands up who has been inspired by Jamie Olvier’s Dream school? Well, for the past month we’ve been doing a kind of fashion version of that with our Grazia/Reiss mentor scheme. Having joined forces with the amazing charity  Kids Company, we’ve taken four twenty-somethings who’ve had a tough start in life and transported them on to the fashion front-line where they will be mentored in everything from fashion design to marketing and styling for the next six months. So, how’s it been so far? Here, Jo’el – who is being mentored in menswear design - describes how he’s finally getting the hang of his new routine and why it has suddenly got him thinking…

Today I have been at Reiss for 4 weeks. My life has been totally transformed and I do feel a lot more settled a month down the track. At first, the change was a challenge - I was often late and sometimes couldn’t make it in at all. I just wasn’t used to such a rigid routine where people are counting and relying on me. However, my Kids Company mentor sat me down and explained that if I didn’t shape up and commit, I could lose this opportunity at any moment. It was the wake-up call I needed. While I’m still at the point where I need someone to tell me what to do or give me a brief, I’m definitely more focused now.

I have been designing a range of t-shirts and today Darren one if the menswear designers, is presenting these, along with other potential menswear designs to the big boss, David Reiss. Before starting on my designs, I researched the Reiss customer profile -  quite high end and not very urban! I don’t personally think you can say that there is one particular type of customer, but while I was working on my mood board for this collection I did try to stay away from the urban look. At the end of the day, I really want my designs to be bought - to see them made up as samples and sold in store. I’ll be disappointed if my designs aren’t selected, but I’m an honest person so, equally, I like people to be straightforward with me and if something isn’t good enough I also want to know. Looking at what I’ve done so far, I do think that my designs will suit a wide range of customers - two are quite commercial and one looks a bit like a Picasso! Next I’ll be looking at scarf and tie ranges.  In the meantime I’ve also got football to think about. I used to dream about being a professional footballer and I still train twice a week and often have two games a week as well. As I am at Reiss until 5pm, I’m always cutting it fine to make it on time and I have been late for training a few times. My coach gets pretty upset so I’m still trying to balance everything that’s going on in my life right now.

One thing is certain, this is all much harder than I expected it to be, but I do feel a bit more grounded now. It has also opened my eyes to the fact that there is a real possibility that this is something I could make a career out of...besides I like a challenge! 


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