Christie Wanless is a stickler for precision.
As a qualified fashion technologist, she’s all about pattern cutting, construction and fit. In many ways, the black and white of fashion. However, in her new role with Front Lounge, Christie’s exploring a different approach – that there’s always another way! Originally from London, Christie (29), who joined Front Lounge as a Development Worker at the end of last year, is quite literally fashioning futures.
How did Christie’s journey begin?
Unclear what she wanted to do after school, Christie took a portfolio course at Angus College and then completed an HND in Textiles at Dundee College. It was at that point that Heriot-Watt came onto her radar.
“One of my lecturers at the time had studied Fashion Technology at Heriot-Watt and she thought my way of learning and my ability to pick up sewing and pattern cutting would make me a good fit for that course. So, I went to a couple of open days, loved the vibe there and was offered a place at the School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels, starting in the autumn of 2015.”
So, what is fashion technology?
“Fashion technologists are very much focused on the development and production of clothes. They deal with garment construction from start to finish, ensuring precision through patterns, size charts and lots of fit checks! Providing designers with technical support throughout the design and manufacturing process, they ensure that garments don’t just fit well but also align with the designer’s vision and budget.”
As part of Christie’s degree at Heriot-Watt, she was offered two placements.
“I initially went down to London for three months, but my mental health wasn’t great at that time, so I decided to ask the university if there were any opportunities closer to home. That’s when I was led to Isolated Heroes in Dundee.”
“I was meant to return for my Honours year but was enjoying working and being immersed in the industry, so I decided not to return as my heart just wasn’t in it. With hindsight, it was just as well. 2020 was approaching, and because of Covid, I would have had a very different year had I returned!”
With her love of sewing, what led Christie to side-step into Front Lounge?
“This time last year, having worked with Isolated Heroes for almost six years, I was looking for a new opportunity and had already worked with the Front Lounge team on upskilling some of the Kindred Clothing graduates, so the stars basically aligned and here we are. My job, so far, has been two-fold.”
“One is preparing and refining the new Fashion Production Award for certification by the SQA, ensuring that the terminology is correct and the course is designed correctly to evidence the learners’ achievements.”
“On top of that, I’ve been working on EVOLUTION, a pilot project building relationships with designers to make products from their waste material. Closely linked to the Kindred Clothing programme, we’ve got some amazing plans forming to reinvigorate the city’s garment manufacturing industry, and we can’t wait to share them in the months ahead.”
With an exciting year ahead, what’s Christie most looking forward to?
“I came in at the perfect time as I’ve been able to make my mark on the EVOLUTION project, and it’ll be amazing to see that vision become a reality.”
“I also love working with the Kindred Clothing learners and can’t wait to meet the next cohort. Like many, I didn’t know what I wanted to do at school and maybe thought there was only one route for me. So many young people feel like that when it’s not the case. You often move sideways or try something that doesn’t work out, but that’s all part of the journey. This job isn’t just about sewing; it’s about changing lives and empowering our young people to try things and experience the ups and downs, so it’s a real privilege to share my experiences.”