Q&A: Amanda Svart

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All Photography Courtesy of Amanda Svart Interview by Elizabeth Pollard

Westminster graduate, Amanda Svart is only months out of college but already has an exceptional CV to her name, including experience with Viktor and Rolf, Marc Jacobs, Lanvin and Meadham Kirchoff, a place to study womenswear at the RCA and of course a stunning final collection. We speak to her about inspirations, the industry and her time at university.

How did you get into womenswear and who were your big influencers?
I decided to study womenswear 5 years ago after a few short courses in different areas of Fashion at Central Saint Martins. I always had an interest in clothes and I think CSM was the first influence that brought my mind into study fashion. At that point I didn’t knew a lot about the fashion industry and thought that the process of making clothes was fascinating. Today I am able to relate and appreciate many things in design and with designers and realise how big this market actually is.

You have just graduated from Westminster University but have already worked with some of the industry’s biggest names like Marc Jacobs and Lanvin. How does the working process differ from university to industry?
Its quite different, as in university projects are shorter and we only realise a few of the garments we design. University also applies pressure on us in a different way than when working for a brand. While working at a fashion house there is a lot of stress but it comes in waves as deadlines come up, and we work on the same collection for a longer period of time. It’s bigger and needs different parts to it and working in a team together with other professionals makes the process more efficient.

Do you feel your time at art school prepared you for life as a designer?
It definitely has. I took a sandwich year between the second and third year of university and this industry year has given me plenty of knowledge and inspiration. I think Westminster is one of the best universities you can attend if you would like to study fashion design. The curriculum is well structured and the faculty is well in tune with industry, both in that they have good connections with established brands and also knowledge about what it is that employers are looking for in graduates.

What keeps you motivated to keep pushing and creating in such a tough industry?
I truly love what I do, but after this past year I must admit that I really needed a break. I have spent some time in my native Sweden to recharge my batteries and feel that my inspiration is coming back, I feel excited to return to London to starting something new now. When working with the development of clothes there are certain stages that give me a rush, like when coming up with an interesting idea that in turn generates even more and more ideas. But most of the time I enjoy all the stages in the design process. When I am down I have amazing people around me who support me and help to get me back on my feet again.

Looking through your portfolio, it’s amazing to see such a broad range of inspirations. How do you begin to imagine a collection?
Normally I find just a few pictures that inspire me that I later build upon. Inevitably the research process always changes, the initial starting point into something else but this is what makes it so interesting; to see what something will spur and not knowing from the outset what ideas are going to pop up. The final character of the collection doesn’t come to me until at a later stage after I have been thinking thoroughly of various ways to materialise the vision in the actual making of the garments.

Is there a project you are most proud of?
The final collection is always a special project for a graduate. We spent night and day for months on end to produce it and it is also the collection for which we realise the most number of pieces, and this makes a big difference. But looking at all the projects from last year I would still like to have seen how the collections from the different projects would have turned out if realised to their fullest. I am very fond of a project I did for Miu Miu as it was substantially different from the others: fun, colourful and geometric.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the fashion industry at the moment?
One big issue is accountability and the need for a fashion brand to ensure responsible sourcing across the entire value chain including sub-suppliers. There is increased awareness and reduced tolerance among consumers for exploitation of workers and animals, for environmental pollution or use of toxic fabric treatment and colorants.

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?
To be fully aware that you have to work really hard, that it is not glamorous and only to pursue fashion studies if you have a genuine interest in the field as there are no shortcuts to learning the trade.

What’s in the future for Amanda Svart?
I hope that we are going to plenty see more from her in the near-term. I have been offered a place at the Royal College of Art Womenswear in the class of 2014 and am currently seeking funding for the two years of study. Ultimately it is my goal to develop my own brand and bring it onto the fashion radar.

WESTMINSTERFASHION by westminsterfashion
Amanda Svart from 13.55

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