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CAD for Fashion judges at Midlands Fashion Awards

CAD for Fashion judges at Midlands Fashion Awards

CAD for Fashion is all about nurturing new talent from the fashion industry so we were delighted that our founder Erica Horne was recently asked to be a judge at the Midlands Fashion Awards. 

What are the Midlands Fashion Awards?

Move over London Fashion week, the Midlands Fashion Awards are the ultimate destination for discovering the country’s most talented creatives. 

Recognised as a leading platform, the Midlands Fashion Awards is well-known for promoting and increasing the visibility of the region’s most innovative fashion and accessory designers. As well as offering accolades for stylists, make-up artists and photographers. 

Each year, the Midlands Fashion Awards culminates in an annual awards ceremony (usually held in Birmingham) where nominated designers and creatives can showcase their collections on a catwalk, exhibit their brand and potentially find a buyer for their products amongst an audience of over 300 visitors. 

Who were the winners at the 2019 Midlands Fashion Awards?

CAD for Fashion was so excited to attend this year’s award ceremony as a judge for three different categories. It was hard to narrow down a winner from such a talented bunch of finalists, but this year’s incredible recipients are:

Young Designer of the Year 2019

Winner: Convergence by Lucy Taylor, Burton-on-Trent

Sustainability Designer of the Year 2019

Winner: Serefina Rose Charles, Luton

Emerging Designer of the Year 2019

Winner: Isabelle Pennington-Edmead, Warrington

CAD for Fashion will be keeping in touch with all the winners and is delighted to announce we’ll also be mentoring Isabelle in order to support her next steps in the fashion industry. We may have convinced her to pop along to our bestselling Jess Priest workshop too… 

How to get involved with the Midlands Fashion Awards

If you’re a designer, maker or creative from the Midlands, why not get involved with next year’s Midlands Fashion Awards? 

There are tons of opportunities to showcase your work and plenty of categories to nominate yourself for. And if you’re lucky enough to be shortlisted, Erica will be there to say a friendly hello as she’s been asked to support with planning and judging the event next year too.

Don’t forget to check out our upcoming workshops here.

An Interview with GB Labels

An Interview with GB Labels

One of the trickiest aspects of being a designer, maker or brand owner? Finding suppliers you can trust. That’s why we were super-pleased to discover GB Labels; a friendly neighbourhood branding specialist just round the corner from the CAD For Fashion Derby studio. 

GB Labels is a family team of weaving experts with around 50 years of experience between them. Peter Gregory started the business decades ago and has now passed the reins over to sons Luke and Jason Gregory. 

Along with the rest of the team, Jason and Luke provide branding products to some of the biggest companies in the world. But their signature range of woven labels, cotton labels, swing tickets and ribbon has found cult status amongst the Instagram makers community too. 

We caught up with Jason to ask him six quickfire questions. Here’s what he had to say… 

GB Labels Team

Hey Jason, firstly, why is branding so important?

“If you think about those huge household names, they all have that memorable logo and identifiable colour palette. This is something even the smallest brands can replicate.

Branding matters because it’s the one thing that instantly makes you stand out from competitors. Whether that’s at a trade fair such as Top Drawer or on a shelf in a local boutique such as Design at 44.”

What products should every small business have?

“The branding products you choose need to elevate your brand and make it look professional and consistent. A woven label or cotton label adds quality, a swing ticket is something your customers can linger over, ribbon shows them you lovingly wrap each order and a wash care label is something you need to be transparent with your customers.

Probably the most common mistake we come across is designers buying bulk labels after a quick Google search then being disappointed with the quality. My tip would be to do your research because your branding should always be high quality and well-crafted. It represents your brand after all!”

Woven Labels

Where do you source your products from?

“Our office is based in Derby, that’s where we store all the labels. In a secret studio in Wales, you’ll find our state of the art loom. Most of our product range is made there which is why we describe ourselves as ‘beautifully British’.

But it’s important we’re transparent with our customers. We aren’t fussed where a product comes from as long as it’s the best quality and made responsibly. So if we need to source an element from overseas, we’ll let our customers know. 

We also try to be sustainable where we can. People may assume having branding products creates waste. However, our cotton products are kind to the planet, our swing tickets can be made from recyclable cardboard and things like ribbon can have hundreds of uses after they are used for the first time. It’s about doing what feels right for your business”

GB Labels
GB labels – Woven Labels

How do you help brands achieve branding success?

“We work with all types of brands. From film studios and fashion houses to student designers and startups based in garden sheds. 

There’s room for all sorts of creativity and entrepreneurship within the industry, but it’s how you present and market your products that’s important. Unfortunately, branding is probably one of the main things a designer forgets. You wouldn’t believe how many calls we get hours before fashion week!

Luckily nurturing new talent, student designers and side hustlers is something we really enjoy. You don’t have to know anything about branding to place an order with us. We offer free sample packs, regular discount codes, a logo design service – and we’re always on the other end of the phone when you need advice.”

Where are some of the more unusual places your woven labels appear?

“You may think branding is all about every day clothing labels, but you’d be surprised. Our labels end up on dog collars, tents, bicycles, wedding dresses, racing cars, sofas… the list is endless! We even started a hashtag #ShareYourLabel to keep track of where all our products end up.”

What’s the best thing about being a family-run business?

“Unlike companies based overseas or bigger garment label factories, we’re always able to offer the personal touch and guide a designer through the label ordering process step by step. And of course, we’re always honoured to work with prestigious names, which we do on a daily basis. 

Mainly we really enjoy seeing people’s reactions when they see their label for the first time. This is because often it’s a major step forward for their brand or signifies a poignant event like their first trade show or graduation from a fashion design course. 

That’s probably why we love our Instagram community so much. There’s lots of talent out there and the future is bright for independent brands.”

Follow GB Labels on Instagram or get in touch via their website. And keep an eye on their social media for some exciting updates coming soon… 

A Year in the Making

A Year in the Making

What a month it’s been! It feels like last months event and the Adobe Textile Designer demo was so long ago now, but what a fantastic night it was.

In July we celebrated CAD for Fashion Academy’s 1 year anniversary with an event called ‘A Year in the making’. The event was a chance for us all to look back on the last year and see how far we have come. Learners, industry friends and C4F Tutors were all there to raise a glass for everything we have all achieved! From small hurdles, slow and steady progress to complete shake-ups of life, work and personal development.

We are grateful to all of you who were able to join us on the evening to raise a glass! and to those who sent their congratulations.

Owner Erica Horne and resident, fashion print and graphics expert Stephen Rose; raise a glass to celebrate CAD for Fashions first year.

Adobe’s ‘Textile Designer’

At the event, we were treated to an exclusive Demo from our resident fashion print and graphics expert Stephen Rose. He told us all about Adobe Photoshop’s ‘Textile Designer’, formally known as ‘Project Paras’. This new plugin is going to change the way you create your repeats in Photoshop for the better! He showed us how easily it allows you to capture different colour combinations and also how it gives you full technical control over your output when you are ready to print.

Have a go in the studio! 

After the talk, we opened up the studio to let everyone have a go at using the new plugin. We provided a demo file and simple instructions which meant everyone was able to have a play and see how incredible the new features could be when it is finally rolled out in the main program.

Stephen Rose supporting our learners whilst they try out ‘Textile Designer’ for Adobe Photoshop

It’s fair to say there were some pretty excited faces in the room…

“This is how excited I am about the preview I’ve seen tonight of the new Adobe software – Adobe Textile Designer. This is gonna change my life! @cadforfashion 🖤🖤🖤” Alix Webb

Overall the event was a great success and it was our genuine pleasure to share it with you all. It also attracted a fair bit of interest outside our little community; including a little company called… Adobe! Next week myselfand Stephen will be on a video conference to California to speak with Mike Scrutton; Director of Print Technology and Strategy at Adobe. He is in charge of developing the ‘Textile Designer’ plugin and wants to speak to us about what we think! 

Over the last few weeks, we have been collecting feedback from you guys on Instagramand Facebook so we can help to make this feature the best it can be before its rolled out in the next major update. If you have any feedback or suggestions we would love to hear from you and will be passing all of this on to Adobe next week. Get in touch on

Adobe’s ‘Textile Designer’ for Adobe Photoshop
Graduate Fashion Week 2019

Graduate Fashion Week 2019

Graduate Fashion Week – The most exciting yet most nerve-racking week for the final fashion year students. You never know what could happen in a week, but now it was time to see.

Going to Graduate Fashion week in the year of 2019 was a different experience for me than the other times I have visited. Usually, I am invisible behind backstage helping the current final year students, always in a mad rush to get the garments onto the models; but this year that was not the case. I was in full view taking in the whole experience of what Graduate Fashion Week had to offer.

The Start of the Day

The moment I stepped into the entrance of Old Truman Brewery, I could tell in an instant that I was entering a Fashion Event. Cameras were everywhere, taking shots and films of the number of people walking through the door, showcasing how popular the event was. I could feel the buzz of the surrounding people as soon as I walked in. As you enter you spot the variety of different Universities stands that are dotted around the map. What impressed me the most was how you could see the personalities of what each University had to offer. You could see this from the way they had creatively thought of how they wanted to present their work. Garments, Portfolios, Magazines, Look Books, Zines, there was everything on show. A real range of products, all intriguing to see.
I spotted as I walked around, teams from the industry meeting graduates, reviewing portfolios and discussing career options. So, not only was it a great exhibition but also a great way for the designers work to get noticed. An easily accessible way of self-networking.


I kept walking around and soon realised there were another 2 floors of this. I couldn’t wait for more. I headed to the next section and noticed boards full on snapshots of Instagram Posts. As I got closer, I soon realized it was a few bunch of the #TagYourTalent posts from the current graduates. I thought I had recognized them from my own feed. I liked this feature. It represented the typical story of the lives of final fashion year students.

I even loved following the # on my feed, such another great way of designers to get recognized and acknowledged. Even so, I ended up following probably nearly every different student as I just got fascinated seeing people’s ideas come to life and also seeing what the exact topic was that inspired them to create such unique diverse collections and outcomes.

GFW Live!

Throughout the day there were also many live discussions on various topics in the talk space including, Mothercare, expressing how important body confidence is in their message for the brand; Q&A’s with Footwear designer Sam Pearce, and even chats with the ever so famous Gok Wan and Hilary Alexander, expressing everything related to career goals and how to prepare for this.

Sponsor Stands – Great for Graduates

Dotted around the exhibition space where also the stands of the people supporting Graduate Fashion Week, these including, Size?, Tu, George, Clarks and so many more. You could see walking past how helpful these were to current graduates as everyone was holding a portfolio waiting patiently in line. The day was a great way of self-networking, showing your work to potential employers, or even if it is just trying to get some advice on work and how to get where you would like to be. Tu also presented the 2018 scholarship collection which I loved. Seeing this put the whole day into perspective for me as it showed how helpful this day can be for not only the graduates but the brands too. It is a great community for students but also helps spot the fresh and emerging talent for the brands.

Time For The Catwalk Show

But now, it was time for the catwalk. I was there supporting my University and every student that got picked for the show. As we waited, you could hear everyone’s conversations, eager wanting to get in. I managed to get 2nd row back and oh how I did feel like I was at London Fashion Week. More people were walking in and taking their seats, these including the VIP’s who were judging the variety of awards and scholarships, and the cameras were put into place at the end of the catwalk. Everyone was ready for the show to start.

Photos By Simon Armstrong via

We had twenty collections walk down the catwalk and not one was similar in any way, all such diverse concepts explored. Not only did the garments look great but you could see every student considered the whole look, including accessories and shoes. It really did just make me want to get started with the final year, creating my concept and getting into design work to see final products come to life. I felt immensely proud for my University as the show had finished, but couldn’t bear to think how all the students were feeling behind backstage, knowing that soon that the whole year would soon be finished, and how they were all realising that they did it, one of the hardest years they had to face was all coming to a close.

The whole day at Graduate Fashion Week was such an amazing experience for me, seeing everything that each graduate had worked so hard on in the last year. Each outcome looked incredible. But not only was it a great day for me but also everyone there. Graduates spending time with well-known brands, the brands trying to find some new fresh emerging talent, and just a place where everyone came together to celebrate everything creative. Graduate Fashion Week did an amazing job to host all of this again for yet another year, and I hope that next year I will see you there with my collection going down the catwalk, but I guess we will just have to see! Until next time Graduate Fashion Week!


Adobe Creative Cloud – Do I need it?

Adobe Creative Cloud – Do I need it?

When I started my studies in Fashion Design the only Adobe Creative Cloud program I had heard of was Photoshop. Even so, this wasn’t due to my course. I always associated it with the media; Photoshop creating cellulite free legs or bronzed skin and tiny waists. Never had I thought that this application would be so important to the course I had started to study.    

But now, studying at University and working within the industry I have realised how important the use of Computer Aided Design software such as Creative Cloud is to everyday processes. For example, the most popular: Photoshop and Illustrator. Photoshop is ideal when working with imagery and editing, especially in regards to fashion. It is also useful for creating mood boards and enhancing research pages for projects at University. Illustrator, vector-based software, is ideal for creating striking logos for your new business or creating professional looking design and technical flats. 

These days, it’s all about what skills you have within the Creative Cloud programmes. And actually, how valuable it is to create pretty much anything. As it states on the Adobe website, “When imagination and innovation come together, anything’s possible.” 


If any of you are unsure what Creative Cloud is, here’s a quick overview: Creative Cloud is a membership plan that provides you with the best creative tools to help in services such as photography, design, video and even the web. It lets you download the apps straight away and you receive the latest updates and big releases as part of your subscription. It also offers a lite version of these same apps and more on Android and IOS either on a mobile, tablet or computer.


For design, the main software programmes that are used in the industry are Photoshop and Illustrator – these are the only two products that I thought I would need to use anyway. Downloading these onto my laptop would cost £19.97 a month just for a single app – so, nearly £40 for the two. However, you can download the Creative Cloud package for nearly £50 a month – and that’s for 20+ apps. The deal even includes built-in tutorials and provides templates so there’s no need to worry if you are a beginner in some of these aspects. You’ll also be given access to millions of high-quality images, graphics, fonts and videos to help you to create.

As a student, I manage to save 65% and only have to pay £16.24 during the first year of use. After the first year has ended, the price then goes to £25.28 a month. Even with the second year price increase this is still a great deal compared to the professional individual pricing. So, make most of the student perks whilst you can!

To check out Adobe’s current pricing visit the website. Keep an eye out on their page as they often offer good discounts on all packages at certain times in the year, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Digital Publishing – Indesign

Through using Creative Cloud I soon learnt of another product that is useful for design: InDesign, used to create digital publishing. 

I only found this out during my sandwich year when I was working with a company that heavily relied on computer-based outcomes. One of my main jobs was creating presentation booklets. At the start of the placement, I constantly used either Photoshop or Illustrator but these came with limitations. In Photoshop, you had to save each page and struggled to work with a double page layout. So, you really only saw the final product when you began to print it out for the first time. Illustrator was useful with the page layout but saving took time, as the file size was not compatible. This was when my manager introduced me to InDesign through the Creative Cloud.  This product works alongside the use of Photoshop and Illustrator; it’s ideal for handling the bulk of pages at one time whilst keeping a coherent automatic page layout system that is also quick and easy to understand.

Something similar that lets you produce quicker results is Adobe Spark. This app is free for use by anyone, or £10 a month for premium usage, but the premium version is included with the Creative Cloud package. It provides you with ready-made templates for products such as web pages and video stories so you can easily create quick, reliable, professional-looking advertisements.  The premium package also allows you to base the social graphics around your business/company. What I also like about this app is that your work will easily sync from each of your devices so, when inspiration hits, you can get your thoughts and ideas down quickly – wherever you are. Overall, this app is great for creating the promotional material you need to communicate with your customers, without the hassle of spending a great deal of time on it – freeing up time to focus on the other aspects of running your business. 

CAD Sketching – Photoshop Sketch

Another tool that works nicely alongside Photoshop and Illustrator is Photoshop Sketch. This lets you draw just as though you’re drawing on a canvas, producing the ideal blend of colour or brush strokes to create the perfect sense of what you want to portray in the drawing. Especially for design students, this is ideal to create your templates on the go via your tablet/phone. This app makes it easy to insert an image that you want to work from and allows for different layers to be present to give the drawing depth. These layers work well to create a good ground to base your drawing on and they work just like Photoshop. You can change the opacity as well as adding a blend mode onto each section. If you want to further enhance your work you can open it up through Photoshop, allowing the layers and the background to isolate from one another. You can also open in Illustrator to scale the image to preferred size before printing. 

Video Content – Premiere Pro/Adobe Premiere Rush

Something that is becoming increasingly popular as time goes on is vlogging. You see this everywhere, especially in the fashion sector. So, if you want to broaden your interaction with your customers and introduce vlogging into your promotional material, use Premiere Pro in Creative Cloud. This is a video editor mainly used for film, TV and the web. Don’t worry if you haven’t used anything like this before because on the Adobe Creative Cloud website there’s a range of tutorials sectioned into Beginner and Experienced, for those using the software for the first time or those who want to polish their skills and increase their knowledge. The tutorials show how to create different effects and how to use the tools provided. Any camera is usable, delivering the same content to any platform used. 

Adobe Premiere Rush Creative Cloud can also work alongside this, allowing you to capture shots from your phone and edit them right there and then. Easy tools such as colour editing, audio and motion graphics help you to enhance it that little bit extra. Once complete, your final product can be uploaded straight up to any social media platform. Quick and easy.

So, as you can tell through my rambling… I feel that Creative Cloud can be so useful in many ways and for different aspects too. In my opinion, this package is great! The different software works together and, as a whole, it can really help you to enhance your end product. All basic skills and knowledge transfer throughout Creative Cloud apps, so it’s very user-friendly and easy to get to grips with each area.

And…I’ve only just scratched the surface!  These are only a few of the programmes offered through the deal. There are so many more, but if I told you about them all you would be reading this post for at least a couple of days! I’ve let you know about the ones I think are really useful in the fashion sector and those that can help with running and promoting your business…but if you want to know more about the other programmes just head along to the website:

This is such a good deal for what is included and don’t forget that it’s even cheaper for students! I bet all you students out there haven’t heard anything better, have you? I know I haven’t.  Please do head along to the website and look into the other apps provided as part of the package, to get a true sense of the deal.

I really do hope that this post was helpful! Feel free to comment with your thoughts… What do you use most? How has Creative Cloud helped you? Are there other programmes that you like that I haven’t mentioned? It would be good to hear your opinions!

Until next time!


CAD for Fashion X Line + Dot Creative

CAD for Fashion X Line + Dot Creative

Adobe Indesign for Fashion Branding

CAD for Fashion is very happy to announce our collaboration with Line + Dot Creative! Creative director Alexandra Hardwick is going to be sharing her skills and expertise to help you develop your concept and execute your text-based, brand logo using Adobe Indesign.  

Alex is the driving force behind Line + Dot, with more than ten years’ industry experience working with brands including Adidas x Stella McCartney, Hugo Boss and Disney within a global fashion branding agency. She believes in insight-led concepts, creativity and thoughtful design. Her skills span across, website design, Logo and style guide creation, branding application and market research.

Why Adobe Indesign? 

Adobe Indesign is the industry standard for fashion branding. It allows you to create high quality, print ready artwork for your fashion promotional materials. InDesign provides the tools necessary to design pages and create visual layouts that can be used for both print and digital media. It bridges the gap between Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator with some fantastic applications within the world of graphic design and fashion.

Adobe InDesign for Fashion Branding – Beginner 27.04.2019

Would you like the power to realise your own vision? This Adobe InDesign for Fashion Branding Course will give you the skills to create and explore the potential of powerful mood boards and thoughtfully designed text-based logos for your fashion brand.

Whether you are a fashion startup looking to create a logo for your business or an established brand looking to refresh your look. This course will take you through the essential processes needed to produce professional and relevant branding materials. All we ask is that you have a brand name decided upon and that you have some idea of your market positioning. Not sure if you are ready? Or if this course is for you then please get in touch here, we would be happy to advise.

What will I learn?

In the morning Alex will take you through the basics of understanding your brand; defining your target audience and helping you to pick out key messages and aesthetics you want to carry through with your branding. You will then use Adobe InDesign to create moodboards portraying the direction of your brand. In the afternoon Alex will guide you through the software to explore and create a text-based logos inspired by your morning’s work.

By the end of the day, you will have a professional looking logo that represents your brand, that can be used across your print and digital materials such as your website, promotional materials, labels, and of course social media.

Head over to the Course Page for full details.

“I believe in insight-led concepts, creativity and thoughtful design.”

Alex – Creative Director of Line + Dot

Find out more about Line + Dot Creative and what they do over on their website and social media:

Meet the Team – CAD for Fashion Resident Expert… Stephen Rose

Meet the Team – CAD for Fashion Resident Expert… Stephen Rose

We’re lucky enough at CAD for Fashion to have a resident fashion print and textile expert, Stephen Rose, who tutors our digital print and textile design courses.  Stephen is a mine of information and knowledge, with vast industry experience which he is more than happy to share with those taking our digital courses.  

Stephen Rose – Resident Fashion Print and Graphics Expert.

While many believe that CAD software is difficult to use, you will find that if you’re taught the right tricks and techniques and the correct way of doing things from the start, rather than being clumsy, frustrating and time consuming, these programmes are incredibly quick, efficient and effective to use for fashion and textile design.  And Stephen certainly is an expert in his field!  Founder and owner of Now! Design, Stephen has 20 years’ experience of developing and designing placement prints and repeat pattern fabrics for everything from fashion apparel to sportswear and soft furnishings for countless high street stores and well-known brands – with many of his designs becoming bestsellers in stores and online. 

In addition to his incredible talent, Stephen’s a thoroughly nice guy with a calm and patient teaching style.  Whether they’ve come in as complete beginners or designers wanting to refresh or top-up their skills, most of our course attendees come away amazed at how much they’ve learnt and managed to achieve.   You really can get to a higher level, faster if you’re trained by experts!

Stephen teaching our Adobe Photoshop for Fashion Print and Textile Course.

Driven by his passion for print, Stephen has also co-founded Graphic Moda, a creative marketplace for digital fashion print, which brings talented designers and buyers together to supply commercial fashion retailers with exclusive high quality designs at fair trade prices.  

“I’ve dedicated my career to digital fashion print design and I really enjoy taking courses at CAD for Fashion and helping others to learn what’s possible – seeing them realise what the software can do (or, rather, what they can do with the software!), achieving new things, finding shortcuts that will help immensely in their day-to-day work, creating something that looks amazing… it’s incredibly rewarding.  It’s my passion and if I can help to fuel that in someone else, well, there’s nothing better.”

Stephen Rose

Thanks Stephen – it’s great to have you on the CAD for Fashion team!

Find out here about our forthcoming courses or sign up for our newsletter to be amongst the first to hear about new and exciting courses and workshops planned for 2019.

Fashion Goes Digital in Derby

Fashion Goes Digital in Derby

There’s much more to being a fashion designer than having an eye for style and a flair for design. In an increasingly digital world a good working knowledge of CAD software is crucial but, unfortunately, it’s something that’s often overlooked on design courses.That’s why experienced designer, Erica Horne, has created an innovative new studio and training academy, CAD for Fashion, in Derby. Training can be hugely beneficial to fashion designers from students, to freelancers, to corporate teams and while specific computer aided design courses are popular in London there’s previously been little available in the Midlands.

Erica explains: “I studied fashion at Derby University and always particularly enjoyed using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. It wasn’t really covered in depth on the course computer-aided but I got on well with the software and began helping friends with it. When I graduated 6 years ago and began working as a childrenswear designer in Nottingham I continued to teach people how to use the software. Eventually, this led to teaching short courses at Nottingham Trent University, visiting lectures at Derby, Birmingham City Universities, and offering tuition to people at home. The demand was clearly there – this software can play a huge part in a fashion designer’s role nowadays and knowing how to use it properly, understanding the shortcuts, and using it in the same way as colleagues so that you can collaborate effectively makes life so much easier – so that’s why I set up the Academy.”

Erica Horne – Owner CAD for Fashion Studio & Academy
One of CAD for Fashion Academy’s resident experts – each one highly skilled and still practising as a designer in the Fashion industry.

As well as running the academy, through the studio side of the business Erica still works as a freelance designer and product development manager with award-winning Nottingham designer Fazane Fox amongst other brands. It’s this continued hands-on, industry experience that qualifies Erica to teach CAD in the most current and relevant way.

“I’m up-to-date with the latest versions of the software; I know how it works and what fashion designers need from it. It’s not bespoke software and most generic courses cover Illustrator and Photoshop for graphic design. The fashion industry has specific uses and requirements, so that’s what I focus on.”

Erica Horne – Owner CAD for Fashion Studio & Academy
Erica Horne – At the CAD for Fashion academy Launch Event helping some guests with the Adobe Illustrator challenge.

For businesses, Erica can work with whole teams to ensure that they’re all using the software efficiently and in the same way, leading to slicker processes and easier collaboration, as she did recently with Nottingham based MotoDirect. Courses cover all levels, ranging from complete beginner to intermediate or refresher, with corporate courses adapted specifically to a team’s needs.

If you would like to find out more about how CAD for Fashion Studio & Academy can support you and your needs please get in touch!

Jess Priest at CAD for Fashion Academy

Jess Priest at CAD for Fashion Academy

We were delighted to welcome the incredible talent that is Jessica Priest to the CAD for Fashion Academy recently.  Jess is a well-known and very successful artist and printed textile designer, whose stunningly effortless floral designs have been sold to Anthropologie, Vera Wang, Toast and Calvin Klein as well as numerous high street brands.  Having graduated from Winchester School of Art in 2000 Jess began working at a top London print design studio, and now works from her home studio in Buckinghamshire.  As well as designing, Jess teaches all over the UK so we were thrilled when she agreed to come and deliver a guest workshop at the CAD for Fashion Academy.       Needless to say, the session was a sell-out success, and those who were lucky enough to attend were certainly not disappointed!  Jess spent the morning teaching the group about watercolour floral painting as they created their own work, honing their individual style and technique under Jess’s expert guidance.  She was inspiring and knowledgeable, sharing her tips, artistic flair and industry experience with the group who all came away buzzing and eager to put their newly refined skills to good use. Jess’s freehand teaching was later complemented by an afternoon digital session run by our resident print expert, Stephen Rose, during which delegates were able to work in our Mac suit to clean up and translate their morning’s work into seamless repeat pattern designs using Adobe Photoshop.  From watercolour painting to professional textile design, all in a day!     This afternoon session was so popular we are running another in January for those who missed out on the day; Book Here if you are still unsure get in touch, we even have someone from another of Jess’s workshops joining us to learn how to work with their artwork in Adobe Photoshop. The course suited everyone from complete beginners with an interest in floral art, to those already working as professional fashion designers wanting to expand their skill set.  Feedback from all attendees was wonderfully positive… which is exactly what makes it all worthwhile!      
…can’t find words to tell you how much I enjoyed yesterday’s workshop! For your enthusiasm, patience and hospitality thank you so much!”
“…Jessica Priest shared her beautiful talent for painting florals, Stephen Rose gave a brilliant photoshop workshop and Erica Horne hosted the event and was so warm and welcoming.  If you get the chance do check out this place; these people really know their stuff.  I promise you’ll leave feeling inspired!”
“Saturday well spent at CAD for Fashion with the incredibly talented Jessica Priest… it’s so good to learn new skills in the workplace both freehand and on Adobe to help enhance your role!”
  Due to the success of this session, another one is planned for May 2019 – in fact, there’s already a waiting list for those who are interested so, if you’d like to attend the next one sign up to our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss out on a place.  We’d love to see you there!
How Lean is Your Design Process?

How Lean is Your Design Process?

A few weeks ago myself and my colleague Fazane Fox from the Production Lab spoke to Leicestershire Garment Manufacturers about the way we streamline and organise processes in business in order to save time, money and resources. The event was hosted by Leicester Council and Fashion Digital Solutions who delivered an extremely informative workshop on the principles of Lean Manufacturing and how it can reduce waste and increase profitability in a fashion and textiles industry setting. The workshop has really inspired me to delve further into what lean processes can do for design and how we can adapt them.

To demonstrate, I am going to take on the view of a UK garment supplier; designing for the fast fashion high-street and the online retailers who have taken this modality to a new level. Each day is a challenge and they are continually expected to produce things for lower prices and in less time! This can put a huge strain on the business as a whole but in most cases its the design process that takes the hit. I have worked in places where this has happened and been in the position where we didn’t have time to design properly. I spent years at college and university learning how to research, experiment and develop ideas into well thought out designs only to shortcut past them and rush through the process. I would jump straight into sampling, creating versions of garments I had seen (yes we all do it!) and taking the “send as much as possible to a buyer just in case” approach. I was fighting a losing battle; and funnily enough, it took going back to education, as a lecturer this time, to make me realise what I needed to do. After taking students through the design and development process and sharing all the valuable advice I had been given by my lecturers, I vowed to practice what I preach.

I want to share with you a few things I have picked up on, put into practice and observed so far in my career (usually through mistakes!) all of which has lead to a smarter, faster and a more effective design process. 


Buyers are just like any other customer. Identify their needs, what they want and what they don’t want and take into consideration their behaviour; when and how is best to communicate with them, do they want to have a say in the designs or do they want you to read their minds?  We can get a pretty good insight into what they want by researching; this can start early via trend sites, Inspo trips, trade shows or simply when the customer releases their trends/stories. If they are holding a presentation for the new season or a walk around then make time to go; really listen, take notes and ask questions, take all you have learned and use it to present relevant, focused ideas. Chances are as with every customer they want things to be as easy as possible for them to make a decision, for example; is there a style that they like to update every year or season? Be ready to get that business with full-colour design CADs showing at least six variations/developments for them to choose from. The combination of giving them what they want before they ask and giving it to them in a way that has covered all bases makes it easier (and so much quicker) to get to a point where they can make a decision and you get the business.  


A good supplier-buyer relationship is vital to ensure ongoing sales. Be as informative and transparent as possible; the buyer wants to trust you and trust that you know what you are doing. Provide as much information as possible along with your designs/samples, the more information they have to hand the easier their decision is and you have a head start if the garment is selected. It helps to think like them; what questions will they have the instant they receive your designs? What should they know? Own shade or stock, rotary or digital, MOQ restrictions, initial CMT estimate? etc. this not only makes it easier for the buyer, it will also help to reduce mistakes and eliminate the need for emails back and forth delaying things for days or even weeks. When it comes to dealing with any issues or queries be sure to include a reason, a solution, and an alternative; help them to understand the issue as well as your capabilities as a designer and/or a factory. Put this effort in early on and you will save a lot of time in the future and they will appreciate your help.


Its an age-old saying that a workman is only as good as his tools; we can do our best with what we have but there will be limitations to what we can achieve. With technology being such a huge part of the Fashion & Textiles industry its crucial that we embrace the possibilities technology can give us; CAD/CAM software, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and the latest on-screen 3D sampling. All of these are designed to increase accuracy and speed up processes. As a designer one of the most useful tools you can learn is CAD drawing; using software like Adobe Illustrator you can create full-colour designs with trims, prints and texture all in clean lines that are easy to interpret and even easier to edit, change and develop. When used in the right way Adobe Illustrator becomes more than just a drawing tool; it becomes an interactive library of styles, shapes, sleeves, skirts, buttons, zips and so much more, ready to be called upon by any member of your team to be adapted and assembled into a new design in minutes.

Here is a short video where I have taken a basic dress shape and created 3 different designs using a small selection of the huge library I have access to.  


I hope you found something useful in the first half of my ramblings! In part 2 I will be telling you how Adobe Illustrator can be a powerful sales tool, why its so important to get your design teams working together, why training is is crucial in making your lean processes work and how presentation is everything.


Please feel free to voice your opinions on this huge subject, if you have some tips that helped to streamline your design process then please share. I would love to hear about how you work and if there is anything you are looking to implement in your team. 

Until next time!

Erica Horne

Owner of CAD for Fashion

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