THE Clothes Show Live, Pure London trade fair and Westfield Shopping Centre provided the perfect backdrop for BCoT fashion retail students’ research into their 2014 final major project.

The first visit of the year was to the Clothes Show Live, in Birmingham – the UK’s largest fashion festival, packed with top fashion and beauty brands, catwalk shows, makeovers and industry experts.

During the event, students were able to familiarise themselves with lesser-known brands as well as the market leaders.

They could also compare the varying styles and themes for fashion shows and the different approaches from some of Britain’s major retailers.

The group’s second trip was to Pure London, which is famous for showcasing a diverse range of contemporary womenswear brands. It provides an opportunity for buyers to source by style and price point – and a chance for them to find next season’s best-seller.

During the fair, students viewed catwalk shows where designers were showcasing their autumn-winter 2014 collections. They were also able to see first-hand the role of buyers in action as they placed orders on behalf of their clients.

Westfield Shopping Centre, in London, was the third venue for a visual merchandising research exercise for students.

Their task was to compare the displays of designer and high street chains such as Dolce & Gabbana and Primark.

“Westfield is the ideal location to see the world’s most prestigious fashion labels such as Prada and Versace alongside high street brands,” said Sarah Gallagher, fashion retail lecturer at BCoT.

“Not only can students experience the fabulous product ranges, but they can see for themselves how retailers convey their brand identity through visual merchandising, in-store design concepts and customer service.”

Future trips for the students include a four-day visit to Paris in May, where learners will visit flagship designer stores such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, through to the British equivalent department stores.

Visiting the French capital will give students a broader knowledge of the designer markets and provide a good comparison between the British and French stores.

“Trips this year have been an integral part of the students’ learning,” continued Sarah.

“The Clothes Show was a wonderful opportunity to see how the industry promotes and markets itself to a captive audience and beyond. It is an extrava-ganza of brand awareness and fashion marketing and students come away with a far greater understanding of how the industry works.

“Pure London was a perfect way to inspire the creativity of students for their planning ranges unit and the final major project in June.

“They were able to view the collections, see how models are styled and watch buyers on the lookout for fashion-led, progressive designs – it was a fantastic learning experience for them all.”