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Leanne Roebuck on discovering her forte and entering the fashion industry

7 June 2017

Part of the Manchester School of Art Degree show series

To celebrate the Degree Show, we're focusing on some of the artists and designers who are showcasing their work. 

In this instalment Leanne Roebuck shares the inspirations behind her portfolio work, along with her experiences of studying BA Fashion with us and getting to know the fashion industry. 

Leanne Roebuck describes her main interests and inspirations as 'subcultures, music and films'. 

'People are a big influence in my work too' she states, 'whether they be fictional or real people. I was bought up on a lot of 1950s films and James Dean is a cultural hero of mine, I think his attitude and personality has sort of subconsciously woven itself into my menswear design. I love that rock and roll sensibility he encapsulates, and furthermore having a group identity individuals can relate to.'

As well as people, Leanne explains how the city of Manchester has influenced her work. 

'The city of Manchester itself has definitely helped me as a designer and a person,' she commented. ‘The whole atmosphere of the city is fantastic for young creatives, there’s a buzz around every corner.

My favourite thing about being a creative in Manchester is how accessible it is, we’re a stone’s throw away from places such as the Northern Quarter and Ancoats which provides endless inspirations whether it’s the quirky shops and bars or the nitty gritty architecture. I based a whole knitted piece on a wall I found in the Northern Quarter!’

When asked about how her skills and processes have evolved throughout her degree, Leanne stated that ‘I’ve learnt that I am more of a commercial designer, but this came with a lot of trial and error through my three years at Manchester School of Art.

I tried womenswear, I tried experimenting with more conceptual fashion as well as pattern cutting and shaping. It was in second year when I decided to try out menswear and started experimenting with textiles. I discovered that I started enjoying my work a lot more, it just seemed to suit me! It was also in second year when I started to teach myself to knit.

I’m still learning, but it’s an area of Menswear design I’d like to explore further in my MA that I am undertaking here in Manchester in September. As I discovered how I am more of a high street designer, I also discovered how a high street designer may work. I learnt how to work under pressure and how to respond to specific markets in terms of trends and consumer. Teaching myself Adobe Illustrator has been a blessing, it’s now my best friend!’

Alongside getting to know who she is as a designer, Leanne has had multiple opportunities to get to know the industry better during her time at Manchester School of Art.

‘I took the Portfolio Option, which meant I didn’t make a final collection, instead undertook a number of external projects.

One that stood out was a three day-brief I did for BOY London. I approached them for work after an interview I had with them in London in March. It was interesting to work for a real-life brand in such a short space of time.’

BOY London isn’t Leanne’s only experience getting to know a fashion brand, she also met members of Topman when she became a finalist for the BFC Topman Design competition which she described as ‘a highlight’.

‘This [competition] came after a project I did inspired by London DJ and barber Marshall Darling. I collaborated with Graphic Design student Sally Al Nasser and we came up with typography and the phrase ‘looking sharp darling’ that we developed into embroidery and stickers that I then incorporated into my design work. I interviewed with design representatives from Topman at their Headquarters in London and received glowing feedback. The experience was invaluable.’

You can see Leanne Roebuck's portfolio work at our Degree Show from 10-21 June.