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Erin Bland

Career Path: Associate Designer
Location: New York, USA

I was recruited at the end of my final year at Northumbria University by American Eagle Outfitters to join the men's design team. I had decided to apply for a job in New York having never even visited New York at all, I had a good feeling about it and decided to take the leap of faith. I produced two projects for American Eagle before getting the job offer and before I knew it I was in a new country, with my first job, away from my home and family, and I knew absolutely nobody. I joined the men's sweaters team and settled in quickly, taken under the wings of my very knowledgeable senior designer who taught me all that I know now. I expanded in my role and took ownership of the department included the pattern and fair isle designs for the men's sweaters. I've had my sweaters featured in GQ and spotted them in movies like Bad Moms and TV shows like Queer Eye: We're in Japan! and Netflix's Locke & Key. Every time I see something I have created featured in a magazine or on the screen, I feel the biggest sense of accomplishment and it just fuels me to keep doing what I love even more!

What are you doing now?

Exploring new opportunities and expanding myself as a designer. Working on updating my website and portfolio in a changing retail environment that was heavily affected by Covid-19.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I had wanted to study Fashion at Northumbria since I was about 12 years old; I was constantly drawing dresses and outfits and making things on my great grandma's sewing machine that I knew I wanted to be in fashion design. And after hearing that Northumbria was one of the best, I set my intent from the beginning to study here. So much so that I didn't apply anywhere else. It was Northumbria or nothing for me.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?  

I loved studying at Northumbria; the mix of lectures, projects and studio work meant that we were always busy with something. I really looked up to my tutors and valued every bit of feedback they gave.

How connected was your course with industry?

The course was very integrated with the industry; our placement year allowed us to go and experience this for ourselves. It gave me the opportunity to spend 4 months working in Australia for a local designer, preparing me for my future big move! And the industry projects with targeted brands allowed us to receive industry level feedback which was critical.

If you took on a placement during your course how did you feel this helped you in your career/ with your studies?

My placement working in Australia really prepared me in my own way for being so far from anyone or anything that I was so familiar with. I worked with a local high end designer and it exposed me to working in that part of the industry, showed me what it was like owning and managing your own brand and the obstacles that come with this.

What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing about my course was the freedom to form out collections to suit us. If we wanted to focus more on one area of design, for example knitwear, we could tailor our projects in this way to show our strengths as well as our passions.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

I think the ability to tailor our portfolio and collections to our strengths gave an edge to stand out from the crowd.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

That you can always build upon and improve you work, using feedback effectively to evolve and not dwell upon.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I always enjoyed studio time, and the manufacturing part of the process. Working with our technicians, who were always there to help and learning from them.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Go for it! Northumbria is an amazing university set in a beautiful and exciting city! So much to offer from both.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Inspiring Fulfilling Fun

For more information about me visit:

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