Styling students let loose in Debenhams, Sunderland

Fashion styling students visited Debenhams in The Bridges for a morning of fashion-filled fun, with the visual merchandising  team.

Students first had a chat with Mick Booth, the store manager, and Amber Urwin, the visual and product team leader for the department store in Sunderland.

They learned how the Debenham’s branches across the country are given very strict briefs on how to dress windows, and if a graphic or hem is out of place, everything needs to be adjusted so that the consistency runs throughout.

This isn’t as hard-hitting as it once was. Did you know the VM team use to paint and build all of the set themselves, as well as the dressing? No, neither did we.

Debbie and Amber, both from the visual merchandising and product team at Debenhams, Sunderland. Credit: Lucie Simon

There are strict guidelines for the overall Debenhams brand, but also the individual brands that are stocked within the store. This is where the challenge comes in.

After a walk through of a day in the life of a VM, students were set off in groups to find an outfit from both a menswear and womenswear designer. These included Red Herring, Jasper Conran, Mantaray, Hammond and a few others.

We don’t know about you but being a fashion student let loose in a high street store, having no money issues is a super exciting thing.

See our video below to see what exactly we got up to, and what the final outfits were.

If visual merchandising is an area you’re interested in, Amber told us some interesting facts on how she made it to her team leader role within the industry.

“I first worked as a home merchandiser within Debenhams, Newcastle, and then dropped down to a visual assistant role within the menswear department,” she said. ” I knew it was fashion I wanted to be in so dropping down to a lower role was what I had to do.”

A position in Debenhams, Middlesbrough then opened up for a temporary visual supervisor, so I commuted every day. I then moved to a permanent role in Debenhams, Stockton, came back to Sunderland as a visual team leader, went to head office as a creative product co-ordinator, and now I’m back to my team leader role.”

We’ve learned from Amber that if you’re willing to put in the time, travel and effort to achieve a higher role, then temporary and lower positions are sometimes worth the risk.

Thanks to the Debenhams team for a great trip. Keep an eye out for the individual outfits created by students in upcoming articles on Fashion North.



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