Live Projects at UCA Epsom – Students Pitch to Whistles & Markham
Students presented visual merchandising and window installation ideas for the launch of Whistles Menswear in September 2014, and re-branding and visual merchandising concepts for Markham, with chosen ideas being implemented by the brands themselves.
The Whistles brief required the students to design a Whistles Menswear Stand Alone or Pop Up store, including new window display ideas, of which one will be showcased in one of the Whistles’ stores. Ideas included geometric and 3D designs and unusual light installations, with concepts that focused on the modern man and the evolution of man.
“The presentations were all at a high standard, with gorgeous ideas,” said Claire Burns, Creative Visual Merchandiser at Whistles. “Those presenting ideas for Whistles grasped our brand identity extremely well, and the students acted very professionally throughout. It was really nice for me to see the final presentations as I’ve been working with the students on these ideas through tutorial sessions. A number of the ideas from the students were very on trend and inspirational, so choosing one for Whistles will be difficult!”
Markham is the largest stand-alone men’s fashion retail chain in Southern Africa, with over 250 stores in major shopping centres and towns. The students had to consider the existing Markham brand, and their brief was to demonstrate how it could be better positioned and communicated. Groups presenting looked at a range of concepts from the font of the logo and the brands online presence, to uniforms worn by staff in stores and store layouts.
Both briefs required an extensive understanding and analysis of the brands’ target audiences, and students used Google Sketch Up to visualise store layout ideas. Students also created small-scale store layouts to present to the panel. Acting Course leader Katherine Boxall and Thomass Atkinson, Head of the School of Fashion at UCA, were on the panel for the presentations.
“We’ve been really impressed with the standard of presentations for the live briefs project,” said Thomass. “This is such a brilliant opportunity for students to work directly with big brands like these, as they learn a lot about the industry that they’re all hoping to work in and it provides context for everything they’ve been learning so far in their degree. This also gives them a chance to build relationships with some key fashion brands to benefit their future careers.”
“I really enjoyed the live brief projects and working in groups meant that everyone could put ideas forward, which we could then combine to make something even better,” said Charley Fish, second year BA (Hons) Fashion Management & Marketing student. “It was great to work on such a big project with these brands. Our group worked on the Markham brief which was really exciting. We’ve worked really hard so we’re hoping to get picked!”
After presenting to the panel at UCA, three groups were then chosen to present to Whistles’ Creative Visual Merchandiser Claire Burns and Creative Director James Sheppard, who then discussed them with Whistles’ Chief Executive, Jane Shepherdson. The winning group of the Whistles project was team Velour, who had put together ‘The Neon Skyline’ as a store window idea. The idea included linear light installations, which would be set up differently in each Whistles branch.
“Team Velour did a great job presenting and used amazing imagery,” said Claire. “They showed real passion with their ideas. James and I really felt that the team had considered the relevance of their idea for Whistles and how it fits with the brand’s identity. We knew that it would be a real showpiece in any of our store windows.”