VISITING LECTURER: Katie Jones, Knitwear Designer

What can I even say about Katie Jones? She is amazing. Her work is astounding and her boundless enthusiasm for fashion is so inspiring. We were given the chance to look at her work which she brought to show us all the way from Brighton and she spoke to us about her colourful career so far.


She graduated from the nationally renowned Central St Martins this year after 7 years spent doing her BA with a sandwich year and MA. She encouraged us to be very experimental and crazy at university as once you are working for someone you don’t really get to be as creative as you want and you have to think about costing sheets. She is now a freelance crochet designer, doing small jobs for other companies, including Mark Fast, where she has worked for 6 years after interning there in the 2nd year of her BA, she started right from the bottom making tea and gradually worked her way up. A lot of companies make their garments ‘in house’ in the same country, Katie said she has been commissioned to make some garments that sell for up to £4000 in her own bedroom!


Mark Fast SS14

After completing her education she created her first solo collection ‘Slab City’ based on Mexican culture, which she showed at Brighton Fashion Week 2013. She wanted to add to her portfolio and also it looks good to employers that you are still carrying on the creative process and have momentum without being ‘forced’ to. At the moment she is in the process of collaborating with a friend from Mark Fast, so I’m going to be keeping my eyes peeled!

“The S/S14 collection  tells the story of a group of nomads who to avoid the modern world leave the cities for the desert and create a new tribe. Influenced by the outsider art of Salvation Mountain in Slab City, traditional crochet costumes documented in Phyllis Galembo’s: Maske and the modern tribes of Tanna.

The collection depicts the tribe in 10 obsessively crafted, graphic and colourful crochet looks. Taking a fresh look at a traditional craft and a clever take on modern tribal dress.”

She focuses more on her fabrics and said that she is “very craft based” when choosing designs and envisioning garments, strongly influenced by tribal textiles she manages to depict very high market fashion garments using old and forgotten hand craft techniques. 


Slab City bitch, Slab Slab City, bitch

On her sandwich year Katie Jones interned at 3 different places, the first being John Galliano at his couture house in Paris for 6 months. You are called a ‘stagiere’ as an intern and you have your own room to work in in the building to do most of the creative things, it is a 3 storey building, with the seamstresses in the basement (which were hard to communicate with as they were all French) and John’s studio at the top, with the designers in the middle. Jones then went on to New York to intern for Diane Von Furstenburg which was a very creative also but the fashion industry in America is supremely industry driven which wasn’t for her. Jones then went on to Romance Was Born, an amazing digital print based brand based in Australia, they are more ready to wear in their garments and price range but she said it was a good 2 month experience considering she thought she applied for a position in Scandinavia! Internships are a great place to make useful contacts and this is proven in Jones’ success at Mark Fast, you also get paid for internships in New York and Paris and now new laws have been introduced in the UK so that graduate interns can get fair pay.


Some of Katie’s work

“Fashion can seem like a rich man’s game, it’s not…”

-Katie Jones, October 2013


Katie Jones was not from a wealthy background, she said you have to beg, borrow and steal to get by and have a job and work around it all. Internships are well worth applying for because they can help you realise where you want to work, and she even recommended @ukfashionintern on Twitter to look for placements. Linked in was also mentioned, saying that it is a very useful, (though boring) thing to have and that she was offered a job at Valentino because a head hunter was browsing her linked in on their lunch break! She said she has got by because she has played on her strengths and we all need to find what we can do best and more importantly, different, from everyone else and go for it. Also, know who you’re designing for and selling to, don’t “design into the void”, imagine a client and stick to it.


Some of Katie’s samples (Need to be A3 or bigger so you can realise the fabric etc)

Katie Jones visiting Plymouth College of Art was one of the most inspiring things I have ever participated in, she was open and honest about all her work in the industry and really left me with that wonderful feeling of “I can do that too”. I can fully understand why she is so successful and can imagine that she will only get more recognised as a brand and hopefully become a household name, because Lord knows, she works hard for it.


SHOP REPORT: Bibi & Mac, Royal William Yard

As you walk into the Plymouth branch of Bibi & Mac, you get an overwhelming feeling of exclusivity, laid out like your very own walk in wardrobe, you feel right at home just browsing through the rails, shoes are even placed underneath the clothes to inspire your choices and outfits. Founded in 2006 in Salcombe, Devon they have now branched out to the trendy Royal William Yard area in Plymouth. They stock brands such as Marc Cain, Victoria Beckham, Isabel De Pedro, Scotch and Soda and lots more, selling both mens and womenswear. They have also been featured in several magazines such as Stella, Drapers and are currently #68 in Vogues top 100 boutiques outside London. (

 The shop is run by husband and wife Jane and Nigel, and the owner Jane was there when I visited, helping customers and chatting to people making them feel welcome, lots of people already seemed to know her and because of this it seemed a bit cliquey in there. The shop sells a lot of fur and leather, high quality products ranging from around £80+ all the products on sale seem to be on trend for the season coming up, very fashion forward. I think a shop like this is very well suited to the Royal William Yard area, where they share a postcode with an artisan bakery, Wagamama, The Martin Bush Gallery, The River Cottage restaurant and several upmarket cocktail bars and restaurants. The owner was wearing clothes that could all be found in the store, as a sort of walking advertisement. 


Mission statement, BIBI BOUTIQUES

The price range is very much top end high street, even veering towards ready to wear for some garments this is appropriate, however because of the sheer quality of the clothing on offer. The store is filled with neutral colours, so the appearance is very chic and minimalist, even though the store itself is quite full. The customers who were in there when I was looked to be middle age, middle class women with disposable income to hand.



Bibi & Mac stocks everything you need to feign a bit of style, including beautiful hats, coats, gloves, bags, ties and shoes, however when I tried to browse online at I got told there was no such website even though it is clearly advertised on their Facebook page. Clearly Bibi & Mac needs more revenue put into advertising and someone needs to set up a website for younger more stylish people to browse through, as nearly everyone I know orders clothes online and can spend hours trawling through the internet looking for brands and blogs to get inspiration, but I think they seem to have their target market spot on and their address is perfect for the people they are trying to encourage to buy.



Royal William Yard

Would I shop there?

In Plymouth, a well known Naval town that is now vastly populated by students and unemployed people, I think there is only a very small market for places like this but it is refreshing to see that it is prospering and surviving and that, if you can afford it, there is an alternative to Drakes Circus. Bibi & Mac is obviously thriving if the owners can afford to run 2 stores and I think that this is a good thing for fashion in the South West.

Rating: 7/10