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Member Spotlight: Learning to accessorise with Joanna Godbold

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Every once in a while, I like to break out of my comfort zone and explore a side of the creative industries that I might not have much (if any) stock in. Fashion is one such avenue. 

My fashion sense primarily stretches to jeans, t-shirts referencing obscure bands and the occasional Marks and Spencers suit when the occasion calls for it. Joanna Godbold, however, knows fashion and she knows what a transcendent difference a good accessory can make.

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Jo is an experienced creative director and designer with over 15 years of experience under her belt. She’s also the number one ranked Accessories Designer here on Creativepool. She earned her stripes working for the Clarks shoe company and is now one of the top freelance design consultants working in the UK.

I caught up with Jo to discuss her creative process, her thoughts on the industry she calls home and, of course, her work.

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Where are you from and how did you get into the industry?

I was born near the Oval Cricket grounds in London. I eventually went on to train at Central St Martins and Chelsea College of Art and Design, where I trained as a textile designer. I was more enamoured with product than 2D design at the time, so I worked for Louis Vuitton as a visual merchandiser in order to gain an understanding of luxury product. 

During my training there, I learnt what was involved in the creation of luxury handbags and working there made me realise exactly what I wanted to do. Soon I got a job working for Johnny Loves Rosie, eventually heading up their design team creating accessories for their own brand as well as the high street - that was my first real role in the industry.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I re-located from the largest city in the UK to the smallest city;  Wells in Somerset. I have worked for Clarks and Jigsaw amongst other high street brands and retailers I currently work with on a consultancy basis.

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Explain your creative style and process?

I am quite analytical by nature and like to understand the psychology behind why a purchase is made - whether it's on impulse or a specific need or requirement. I like to start with brand-specific consumer research and consumer needs and then work up seasonal strategy plans for each client. This informs me of the kind of consumer who will potentially purchase the product and this, in turn, will aesthetically enable me to create mood boards, fabric and design detail boards for a collection. This is a process that I cultivated whilst working with Clarks. 

Alternatively, some brands already have their strategies in place, so I work with them on their vision. It depends on the client. I am very interested in sustainable materials, especially in mens or dual gender products. Also, tech in fashion is something which I feel the fashion industry is being too slow to commercialise. Conversely, I also have a sleek and minimal feminine aesthetic when it comes to design, which I like to combine with sustainable materials and tech wherever I can. 

Please provide one sentence about your spotlighted work on Creativepool

To create a backpack that was to be launched with the innovative Nature VIII Clarks boot. This backpack only had the DNA of the boot, but also the function and ingredients of the ‘Comfort In Movement' concept, with advanced cushioning and utilitarian details that also utilised recycled, sustainable fabrics.

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How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Technology use within the accessories sector has been slow to emerge within commercial fashion. Fashion brands (both large and small) are launching clothing, fabrics and jewellery with innovative uses of tech, but I have yet to be able to use it with my high street clients when designing handbags apart from the chargeable handbag I created for a small brand. 

I hope this changes in the future, as we need to embrace tech within fashion accessories in order to remain relevant and move forward. I have, however, embraced the use of 3D printing within sample making, to speed up the process and ensure the factory is able to create exactly the same component that has been signed off. 

For example, the D ring handles on the nylon bags for Clarks were 3D printed from my design and then a mould was created in resin which was then handprinted. Once signed off we could then send the technology to the factory abroad for them to create the exact same handle saving weeks of development time!

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

I recently watched an interview between Li Edelkoort (a respected Forecaster) and FashNerd - on one of the fastest-growing digital magazines writing about fashion technology and wearables. In the interview, she talked about educating students with regards to sustainability and investment in textiles and development for the future.  

I would like to see this investment come into fruition and for the fashion industry as a whole to embrace sustainability in order to create a circular fashion industry.

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What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives in the industry who are looking for commissions?

Keep creating! Even if you don't get the commissions initially, just be resolute in your goal and confident in your work. Take constructive criticism and apply it to your work, don't take it personally. As you continue to create you will learn and grow without realising it. Never stop learning!

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