As part of our ‘In Conversations with:’ series this season, we sat down with two members of our in-house pattern room, Sample Machinist, Mary and Woven Technician, Charlie.
So, grab a cup of tea and get scrolling to read more...
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your position here at French Connection...
Mary: Hi, I’m Mary. I've been the Sample Machinist at French Connection for over 14 years. A sample machinist is responsible for making toiles (prototype garments) and amend any samples ready for showing.
Charlie: I'm Charlie, I'm currently the Woven Technician at French Connection and have been working for the brand for an impressive 26 years. My role at French Connection is to liaise with the designers to help in the creation of garments from an initial sketch/idea.
What does a typical day look like for you at French Connection?
Mary: Everyday can be different in the French Connection pattern room - from creating samples from the design teams initial sketches to making alterations to garments.
Charlie: A typical day can change depending on the season. You can find me working digitally on our CAD system, where I create different garment patterns and specifications. But then sometimes I'll be working practically, measuring up garments on the mannequins.
What different tools do you use day to day in your role?
Mary: The main tool tools I use day to day, are my loyal scissors, nippers and a trusty screwdriver.
Charlie: I use a mix of tools daily, whether it be digital with my computer for the CAD systems or classic production tools like a mannequin, set square, French curve, scissors and the trusted tape measure.
What’s your favourite French Connection piece at the moment / ever?
Charlie: I really liked the limited edition upcycled men’s shirts from the conscious collection back in May 2022. They were made from leftover shirt stocks and fabrics, with the aim of reducing our waste during the production process. There were only 25 shirts made in the range and no two pieces are exactly alike, so they were really unique.
I was actually involved in the development and creation process of these shirts. It was my responsibility to discuss the styling of each individual shirt with our Head of Men's Design, then I cut and prepared all the individual parts and panels ready for Mary to construct together.
Describe your work in 3 words.
Charlie: Creative, collaborative and productive.
What do you love most about working at French Connection?
Mary: The French Connection pattern room team are like a family! Supporting each other, creating great fashion together and collaborating everyday. I also love the garments and samples I create each and everyday, working closely with the design team to bring their ideas and sketches to life right here in the French Connection office. Plus, the office sample sales are always a highlight of the season too!
Any advice for anyone looking to start a career in fashion, production or design.
Mary: There's so many avenues to go down with fashion, production and design, so my advice for someone wanting to start a career in this industry is work hard, be passionate and choose which direction you do wisely - choose the route you love.