ND Community | Evie Thomas x Tu Clothing

Up-and-coming designer and visual communicator Evie Thomas specialises in textile design, using design processes to explore bold, flat graphic surfaces. After exhibiting at New Designers 2022, Evie was approached by Tu Clothing to develop a collection with her designs. She is now training to be a secondary school art teacher alongside freelance designing. We asked Evie a few questions to learn more about her experience as an emerging designer and what inspires her work.

About Tu Sainsbury's: The sixth largest retailer in the UK by volume, Tu helps customers fulfil their clothing missions everyday by offering everything from a broad range of lingerie, lounge and nightwear, to the latest denim fits alongside key fashion pieces, everyday essentials and school wear."

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How did your collection with Tu Clothing come about and what did the design process involve?

‘My collection with Tu came about from New Designers, where I displayed part of my graduate collection of rugs as well as my portfolio. I was approached by Tu with a Love it award, through conversation and a quick talk through my portfolio we swapped contact details. I was later visited by more of the Tu Team who talked me through the freelancing world and they couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive, throughout this whole process.

I didn’t think anything of it until I got an email a few weeks after New Designers asking me about my collection and if would like to do a collaboration with them for womenswear and childrenswear. Obviously, I jumped at the chance! They set me a brief which was inspired by my graduate collection, a collection of inclusive female head designs. Emails went back and forth and a few teams calls later, that was my first freelancing job complete. An adults and children matching mini me T-shirt, an all-over repeat print shirt and socks. Tu have been so supportive throughout the whole process. Being a graduate designer can be daunting and having such a renowned high street retailer contacting you especially for your first freelancing job became very exciting. They answered all of my questions and were only an email away. I can’t thank the team enough.’

Where can people find your designs?

‘My designs are now in Sainsbury’s stores across the UK, as well as Tu online.’

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What was your experience of New Designers?

‘New Designers was the most beneficial way to finish my degree. Only having a small space made me refine my choice of what I exhibited which was 3 rugs on the wall with my portfolio below. I had so many creative conversations with not only other graduate exhibitors but the public and industry creatives. It opened my eyes up to the way others perceive your designs in many disciplines, suggesting new ideas and ways in which my designs could be used.

I was lucky enough to receive recognition by love it awards from Sanderson Design Group, OhPopsi, Clinton’s, Habitat, Wilko’s and Tu Sainsbury’s. I had amazing conversations with many industry professionals who all seemed very supportive of all the graduates, ND also allowed me to gain a portfolio review day at Habitat’s head office as well as work experience at Skinnydip London.

I applied for a Portfolio review session with Habitat whilst at New Designers to get some feedback on my portfolio, which was physical, something which I think is very important, especially for such a tactile specialism. This gave me practice at talking through my portfolio as well as feedback of new suggestions and support when thinking about next steps into the industry.’

Where do you hope your design career will go next? Any future plans?

‘I hope to be able to continue freelance designing, alongside passing on my skills and knowledge to the next generation of learners in secondary school.

I am also hoping to continue to set up my small business, focusing on bespoke portrait rugs as well as embracing the versatility of my design ideas, through a number of different product applications including graphic, refined, bold imagery that include areas of contained and balanced colour.’

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What inspires you?

‘I never stop looking around me, wherever I am, and from that, ideas start to form. From colour to shape, texture to form to different materials. Anything and everything can be considered.’

What 5 words would you use to describe yourself as a designer?

‘Bold, Refined, Graphic, Communicative, Passionate.’

What advice would you give to students preparing for ND?

‘My advice to Students preparing for ND is to go with your gut instinct with your designs, everybody will have a different opinion but as long as you love it and can share your passion others will love it too.

I also found having my portfolio to hand very helpful as it allows you to show off all of your skills, if you can in your display space.

Having images, mock ups or even final products also seemed to help industry professionals and the public see the application of your design.’


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