Select Page
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… 

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!


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!

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

cad for fashion derby ffavicon