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High street to sell wool designs of Kingston varsity grads
Dec '13
Image courtesy : Topman
Image courtesy : Topman
London’s Kingston University fashion students have once again proven they have a way with wool with a hat trick of successes that will see their knitwear designs flying off the shelves of some leading High Street stores.

Plus-size retailer Evans will join Topshop and Topman in stocking garments created by three of the University’s budding designers – two of whom even shared a cup of tea with His Royal Highness Prince Charles to toast their first foray into the retail world.

Two of the students have seen their work reach the shopping mecca of London’s Oxford Street after winning a competition set by the Campaign for Wool. Siobhan Tsang and Trina Outram, both final year BA (Hons) Fashion students at Kingston, were among the winners of the annual awards which aim to promote the benefits of yarn as a natural and sustainable material.

They took up the challenge of designing a jumper to be produced and sold in leading fashion chains during this year’s Wool Week.

Belfast-born Siobhan’s Fair Isle sweater, adorned with a computerised image of a rabbit, jumped out at judges looking for a product that would appeal to trend-setting retailer Topshop. “We were asked to come up with a design that celebrated English heritage,” 21 year old Siobhan said. “I love rabbits – I think they typify the English countryside, but I wanted to make my garment quite funky to appeal to Topshop’s market, so I digitised the motif.”

Fellow fashionista Trina, from Tunbridge Wells, specialises in menswear and came up with a design she hoped would be just the right match for partner store Topman. Inspired by vintage fishermen’s jumpers, she created a black sweater incorporating a colourful diamond emblem inspired by the album artwork of some popular indie rock bands. “I wanted to add a modern twist to my piece so I incorporated the hand-drawn, doodle effect seen on a number of recent album covers,” she explained. 

Not only did the two young designers see their sweaters go on sale in shops, they also had to brush up on their curtseying for a visit to Clarence House where they were treated to high tea with Campaign for Wool patron Prince Charles.

“Siobhan and I went to central London for a photoshoot with the four other competition winners,” Trina explained. “We were told we’d be meeting a special guest, but we had no idea who.” The girls had their hair and makeup done and were given their newly-produced jumpers to wear. They were then whisked off to Clarence House where they were treated to afternoon tea and lemonade in the garden with the next in line to the throne.  

“It was such an amazing experience to meet Prince Charles. He spoke to each one of us and was really interested to hear a little bit about our jumper designs,” Trina said. The girls had to keep their royal rendezvous under wraps until the start of Wool Week in October. “We weren’t allowed to tell anyone about the meeting – it was so hard to keep such a big secret,” Trina added.  

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