Explore Collaborations: Barbour target a new fashion market

Project name: Barbour target a new fashion market

Project information:

This project involved 3rd year Undergraduate in the subject area of Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing. The collaboration was a Group project involving other student groups from different subject / schools/ universities (for e.g. between Design and Business)..

An overview of the project:

This ‘Barbour’ project was open to all of the options on the Fashion programme – womenswear, menswear, knitted textiles and printed textiles. The students were expected to produce a full outfit of garments or their equivalent, dependent upon their specialism, aimed at a new, contemporary fashion market.
The students were asked to use an A4 research sketchbook and record observations from chosen destinations such as Cragside, Bamburgh Castle and Beamish. The drawings needed to show structure, detail, colour and texture and students needed to be mindful of their specialism whilst researching and show discrimination in their selection of subjects.

On completion of the research information and inspiration elements, students were asked to develop 20 outfits for Barbour, or the equivalent in textile designs, taking the brand in a new, contemporary direction, whilst respecting their tradition and roots. From that number of designs, one outfit/range of textile designs was chosen to take to the next stage. Silhouette and detail needed to be addressed in every design. The focus was on refinement, both in the silhouettes and in the finish of the manufacture.

Once all of the design decisions were made, the garment/textile designs could be cut out of the fabric – waxed cotton. This process was technical and required some dexterity to get the most out of the fabric.
The final outfit was then ‘styled’ on a model of the student’s choice or displayed, in the case of textiles – hopefully reflecting all of the target market values and was presented to academic staff, peers and representatives from both Barbour and the Costume Society.

Students were asked to talk about their motivation and inspiration for the outfit/textile designs and place them into context for Barbour.

A description of who was involved in the project:

The parties involved were, Barbour, the Costume Society – the clients, 3rd year, Level 5 Fashion students (4 year sandwich course) from Menswear, Womenswear, Textiles and Knitwear options, Gael Henry – Tutor 1 womenswear, Senior Lecturer, Christopher Hodge – Tutor 2 womenswear, Senior Lecturer, David Chantry – Tutor 3 menswear, Senior Lecturer, Kristen Pickering - Tutor 4 textiles, Senior Lecturer, from the School of Design, Northumbria University.

A description of the key outcomes of this project for all parties which were involved:

The project supported the aim of the brand to capture a younger, smarter customer, whilst utilising their traditional cloths. The student’s task was to give a new perspective, whilst staying true to the quintessential Englishness of the label. The focus was on outerwear pieces that utilised the waxed cottons that were supplied by Barbour. There were also various lining fabrics made available and opportunities for introducing other fabrics when desired. The designs were aimed at Autumn/Winter 2008, so this project was 1 year ahead of the season. The designer at Barbour discussed the design development brief before the students began this stage of the work. A member of the Costume Society also collaborated with the students and visited at a number of stages, with a view to showing the finished outfits to delegates of their annual symposium.

 Exploring Collaboration Learning

Amy Clay - womenswear, research drawings from boats and sailing

 Exploring Collaboration Learning

Kay Speight - textiles. Design details and initial inspiration

 Exploring Collaboration Learning

Lucy Anderson - menswear, initial research drawings and development

Planning the Collaboration

Tutors were asked the following question to help them to reflect on the issues and decisions considered before the project began:

How were the groups formed?


What were the main reasons for setting up a collaborative project?
The tutor indicated a collaborative project was set up:

  • To simulate a 'real-world experience'

What were the client's expectations at the start of the project?

Tutor 1 womenswear - The designer/consultant from Barbour had other ideas about the expectations of the project and the project didn’t deliver on these, some students toned down their ideas to fit in with the current Barbour brand and could have been more innovative. A real problem with collaborative projects is that students feel a need to compromise, they feel they can’t learn by their mistakes – as they can’t have a disaster, it takes away the element of experimentation, the daring to experiment is curbed a little as there are time constraints.

Tutor 2 womenswear – it was not really a problem, Barbour were open to writing the brief with staff and open to negotiation.

Tutor 3 menswear – Barbour came to us because of our reputation. We had a representation from Barbour, earlier in the project, to clarify the brief and talk about Barbour’s history and the direction they were targeting and future development.

Tutor 4 textiles – I was never consulted. Snippets of information came from staff – second hand really – other members of staff decided it was appropriate for the textiles students.

How did you align the client's expectations with the module's learning objectives?

Tutor 1 womenswear – the project worked well in terms of goals. There was a balanced experience with this project and it lead on from other projects that built a level of experience. The module range requirements were those of concept and development followed by garment resolution and manufacture, the module descriptors were very flexible and the intention was that collaborative projects sit in these modules.

Tutor 2 womenswear – the idea was to create an authentic garment for the company brand and market so all goals were met.

Tutor 3 menswear – the students had to create something with more street credibility, a slightly younger market and slightly towards the smart rather than casual – slightly more tailored, yes, this fitted in with the module’s learning objectives.

Tutor 4 textiles – we had to slightly manipulate the module goals legally, there was a lot of twisting and turning to make it fit because of the appropriateness of the customer to a textiles student. The students became more focussed on the garment than textiles because the garment was an easier tool to communicate textile ideas. Therefore, the textiles students produced ‘garment fronts’ or ‘half garments’ to apply the textiles into a garment context – consequently the students had to learn pattern cutting, construct the garment and image develop, print the fabric and engineer the print.


Planning the Collaboration

Tutors were asked the following question to help them to reflect on how you have monitored interactions during the project duration.

What kind of other measures did you put into place to help foster collaborative learning and for what purpose?

Communication between academic staff, from the different options, was very important, but sometimes strategically proved difficult.

How did you monitor students' progress during the collaborative project?
The tutor indicated that they monitored students progress:

  • By regular progress checks

What kind of strategies did you use to manage the team development?
Select the following:

The tutor indicated that they use the following strategies to manage the team development:

By setting up a prescribed design process

Assessing the Collaboration

Tutors were asked the following questions to enable them to describe the assessment methods employed during the collaborative project.

What methods of assessment were used?

The tutor indicated the following method of assessment were used during the collaborative project:

  • Tutor assessment
  • Client assessment

There was no actual marking from the client, formative and summative feedback from the client and academic staff.

Can you elaborate on how you assess the students in the collaborative project, both in terms of the project and how they work as a team?

Each member of academic staff took responsibility for their discipline, providing written feedback, based on the summative feedback offered by clients and staff at critique.

Tutor's reflections on the Collaboration

Tutors were asked the following questions to allow them to consider what has been learnt by running this collaborative project.

What benefits did you as a tutor perceive students had gained from the collaborative project?

Tutor 1 womenswear – the students learned most about the design process from concept to execution, outside pressure makes them much sharper to those requirements. They did learn about the technicalities of dealing with the cloth.

Tutor 2 womenswear – the students learned how to design something for a target market, manufacture for a brand and learn about manufacturing by utilising the technical processes that the brand and company uses already. They probably learned how to be creative but also to meet the collaborators needs.

Tutor 3 menswear – they learned about further refinement of detailing, putting linings in, managing their time to produce a total outfit as opposed to one item. They now understand what goes into an outfit in preparation for final year.

Tutor 4 textiles – the results were impressive and feedback from Barbour was very positive. The fabric was difficult to work with as it had water repellant properties reducing the design possibilities dramatically. The waxed surface changed the colour of an applied print and moved also in printing. Stitching onto the surface removed the waterproof properties of the fabric.

If you were to run this project again, what would you change or improve?

Tutor 1 womenswear - we were trying to design fro a market rather than have a ‘blue skies’ type of approach so we had to compromise – everyone (the academic staff) may have been misguided, maybe it was not necessarily the right way, on reflection. You really don’t know until the results are out and the project is complete. The constraints were the waxed fabric and its limitations, there were lots of technical issues because of this.

Tutor 2 womenswear – more garment finishes and sampling was required because of the nature of the waxed cotton and the technicians supported this. We didn’t let students venture too far from the brief. This was all to do with timing and the product that had to be created, a close eye was kept on meeting the demands of the external collaborators.

Tutor 3 menswear – there were not enough ‘speculative’ design statements in silhouette. It seemed a little restrained, we went with it, though, because of the time factor – sometimes the chance for lateral thought and experimentation isn’t there. Due to the timing we had to produce a product and there was not enough time for evaluation and review, there was no time for formative assessment, our structure restricted this.

Tutor 4 textiles – we had to guide the students through the project to make the appropriate decisions, to have a positive outcome and learn something new from the experience, such as, designing using garment halves and having to pattern cut these also. We made it as successful a collaboration that we could, it could have been a problem.

What were some of the issues that the students faced during the project?
a. The tutor indicated students had the following issues relating to Team Management during the collaborative project:

b. The tutor indicated students had the following issues relating to Team Development during the collaborative project:

c. In general, the tutor indicated students faced the following issues during the collaborative project:

What areas would you as a tutor like to have more support or resources to help you in your next collaborative project?

a. In the planning stage (preparing students for collaborative learning), the tutor indicated they would like more support or resoures in the following areas:

  • Facilities

b. In the managing stage (managing the collaborative project), the tutor indicated they would like more support or resoures in the following areas:

  • Communication with team members or tutor

c. In the assessment stage, the tutor indicated they would like more support or resoures in the following areas:

Any additional comments?

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