Day 2 of #TICEFashion Explore Stage involved their biggest challenge yet – an opportunity to take something simple and make it their own. Students were warmly welcomed to the Mandela Building at Newcastle College, the home of young creative talent in the art/design industry. Before they were to begin the main task of the day, Fashion mentors Lottie and Charlotte were eager to show the students exactly what the college can offer.

Students were led through the beautifully built art gallery, shown around the rooms tailored to those interested in various aspects of fashion. The students were stunned by the sheer amount of facilities and opportunity showcased in the department.

After a very insightful tour, TICE students were split into two groups for the skills development workshops. One workshop was led by Charlotte Liddle passing on her talents in textiles and the other by Lottie Maddison, sharing her wisdom on illustration and design. Both workshops began with presentations, briefly introducing what’s in store for Day 2. With the Day 1 involving industry and fashion markets, this day perfectly tied in with the theme but from a different angle, focusing on the skills needed. So…’The White Shirt’ project was born!

They were expected to take a plain white shirt and bring their original flavour to the table, working in teams and showcasing their creativity in the process. But each student were treated like professionals – and fashion designers always start from scratch, beginning with a piece of paper and a pen…

First things first, a warm up activity to generate ideas! Everyone received a printed sheet of white shirts, all in different sizes; we cut out sleeves, collars, plackets and arranged them on models to create new garment ideas. Collars became sleeve details, cuffs became full skirts and sleeves were used to make interesting trousers with a pinafore detail. We researched further into white shirts to gather additional ideas. Pinterest was a good starting point, we looked at a curated stream of customized, re-imagined shirts and considered how we might incorporate similar elements in our own designs. They browsed online and doodled away, finding inspiring examples of fashion visualising and different techniques/approaches.

Now, the fun part – design time! Once designs were narrowed down, the final and strongest design was then scanned into the computer and we were introduced to the world of Photoshop. Rough sketches were cut out, cleaned up, and our drawn lines were enhanced, using a series of Photoshop tools and processes. It was certainly a complicated task but an experience which was very rewarding for the students. You could gradually see them ease into the complexity of the programme which would no doubt help them massively in their creative careers.

Meanwhile in Charlotte’s workshop, each group were given a simple men’s white shirt and asked to think about how they could manipulate and change the look of it to give it a new lease of life. The students came up with individual designs and narrowed it down to one design as a team – some even merged their ideas together, creating something completely refreshing and artistically daring.

The groups began to take their designs, bringing it to life onto their designated mannequins, using a dress-making technique called moulage. They were only given the shirts along with pins, scissors and a needle and thread to work with. With Charlotte’s motivational words and advice, the students pushed through many hurdles to get the final product – it was wonderful to witness these students oozing with genuine enjoyment and professionalism.

The outcomes were quite simply breath-taking. Shirts were manipulated beyond what was expected. The main question which fleeted the minds of teachers and mentors was ‘why aren’t these on a high fashion catwalk right now!?’. It was evident to see that each group worked very differently, some more focused on texture and others on shape and form. Students from Boldon, Burnside, Jarrow, John Spence, Longbenton and St. Josephs left Newcastle College with a newly found sense of freedom in what they could create, realising that even the simplest of garments can be transformed into something quite extraordinary. It’s only a matter of time until we take these skills into the final stage of the programme. We can’t wait to see what this year’s #TICEFashion team will bring to the table…