Fashion scholarship dresses ‘invisible’ women

Fashion designer David Nieper launches new £5,000 scholarship to students at Nottingham Trent University, encouraging fashion design and greater choice for real women

Senior Designer Elizabeth Edwards

Senior Designer Elizabeth Edwards

British fashion house, David Nieper, has launched a new fashion scholarship challenging over 200 second-year fashion students at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) to design and promote fashion for women over 50 – a group often overlooked by the fashion industry.

According to research, women over the age of 50 are driving growth in the fashion industry, spending £6.7 billion on clothing in 2013* alone, yet almost three quarters of women think that the high street ignores them and that the clothing on offer is too focused on younger customers – making them feel invisible**.

Instead of ignoring women of a certain age, the aim of the David Nieper scholarship is to encourage up-and-coming fashion students to design for and think about the needs of women looking for flattering, timeless British style and elegance. The scholarship will also pass on specialist knowledge and skills to the students taking part.

Designer Sarah Allen in the David Nieper studio

Designer Sarah Allen in the David Nieper studio

David Nieper’s senior designer, Elizabeth Edwards, said: “Women, especially our customers, not only want stylish clothes that look great, but garments that fit well and make them feel great too. Whilst fashion is more about attitude than age, it is important to think about details such as longer sleeves, flattering necklines, colour and fabric choice.

“The top scholarship entries will need to pay real attention to detail in terms of cut and fit, so that their designs are not just elegant and comfortable to wear, but also bring confidence to the customer.”


2013 Finalists visit the David Nieper Factory: Students in the group photo, left to right: Jelena Fursman, Mel Uskuri, Natasha Gilliland, Lucy Goffin, Aimee Dunn, Leah Bertram, Nga Mok Mok, Kitty Lisha Fantus, Emily Bull. (Missing from photo Chanel Folkes)

As part of the scholarship, NTU students across three courses, including Fashion Design, Knitwear Design and Fashion Communication and Promotion will compete in a week-long intensive fashion challenge focusing on classic British style.

Competition finalists will spend a day behind the scenes at David Nieper, to tour the factory and present their designs to a panel of judges, including David Nieper’s own customers and staff.

The winning student from each degree course will be awarded £1,000, with the overall winner receiving an additional £2,000 – bringing the total to £5,000 of prize money to be awarded.

In addition, scholarship finalists will be given a budget of £500 to put on a fashion show at NTU in November 2014, where the competition winners will be revealed. The winning students will also be invited to carry out work experience at David Nieper, to gain hands-on experience from the highly experienced staff.

In the design room at David Nieper

In the design room at David Nieper

Marjolijn Brussaard, Dean of the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “At Nottingham Trent University, we aim to broaden our students’ awareness of designing for a variety of markets and demographics which is why the David Nieper scholarship is so relevant. We are proud to be working with this respected fashion house once again.”

David Nieper has been designing and manufacturing in Alfreton, Derbyshire since 1961 and employ 230 people. The company is currently enjoying record sales of its luxury womenswear, knitwear and nightwear for women.

*According to Kantar Worldpanel spending from 50+ women contributed 4.5 per cent more in 2013 than in 2012. They spent £6.7bn on womenswear and £5.6bn was on items for themselves.

** According to Mintel Market Research, three-quarters of women over the age of 55 feel ignored by the high street and that clothing on offer is too focused on younger customers. 

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