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UK fashion student’s handbag design sells out in Urban Outfitters

UK fashion student Melanie Pace-Lupi, and two designs from her graduate collection in 2013

19 January 2015

26-year-old Melanie Pace-Lupi, from Malta, studied for a BA (Hons) in Fashion at the UK’s University for the Creative Arts (UCA) – and she’s already designed an award-winning handbag for global fashion retailer Urban Outfitters!

Melanie was a winner in the Urban Outfitters x Arts Thread Make It competition, which showcases designs from students and graduates. Her unique leather bag went on sale in Urban Outfitters’ New York store and online – and proved so popular that it quickly sold out.

Studying in the UK was an inspiring experience for Melanie. ‘Everyone at UCA has helped me grow as a creative,’ she says. ‘They also helped me realise my potential and drive to jump into the fashion industry and give it my best shot.’

Melanie's winning design, now sold out in Urban Outfitters' online store (©UrbanOutfitters.com)

Asked why she chose to study in the UK, Melanie explains: ‘I researched recommended fashion degrees and art universities. I chose to apply to the UK primarily because of the language. Having had no prior experience with fashion, I then chose a course which offered a foundation in this specialisation, to get up to speed with what would be expected.’

And the course didn’t disappoint. ‘I have mostly enjoyed the endless access to creative events, exhibitions, libraries, people, and experiences.

‘It is also comforting to be surrounded by like-minded people who are ambitious about what they do, incredibly experienced and good mentors as a result. I have seen myself grow and develop as a designer and creative professional, and I hope to see others around me do the same. As competitive as this profession can be, there is still a sense of community, which is encouraging and pushes you to be the best you can be.’

Melanie’s 2013 graduate collection, as showcased by fashion magazine Vogue (©Vogue.co.uk)

For the Urban Outfitters competition, Melanie says her design was inspired by American sculptor Louise Nevelson, whose work she researched as part of her undergraduate course at UCA. She also wanted it to be wearable every day.

‘I love that there were people out there who have chosen to buy and wear my design. It was even more amazing that the bag sold out quickly. It feels good to have your work being appreciated on a global level too!’

So what’s next for Melanie? ‘I hope to expand my own experience through practice, and maybe even further studies one day.’ She is now working as a studio assistant at luxury French label Roland Mouret – and learning a lot, but one day she hopes to set up her own label. ‘It is something I have always seen myself doing, but it’s not the only thing I hope to achieve!’

Read more:

   •  Subject profile: Fashion, art and design
   •  What to wear in the UK: Top tips for UK student fashion
   •  Starting your own business: Meet the UK’s graduate entrepreneurs

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