I'm Victoria Magrath, a PhD Researcher of the mobile commerce environment in Manchester. I research fashion mobile app design and aspire to work for a successful retailer in the future as their online and mobile design strategist. You can reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I also write a beauty blog - In the Frow.
The idea behind this blog came from a realisation that no one was writing about fashion app design. I started my PhD and needed to understand which fashion retailers were employing a mobile app strategy and more precisely, how they were doing it. Generally Google can give you the answers to anything, so I was surprised when I couldn't find an individual website that could tell me all I needed to know about the design of the leading fashion apps. So from there, TheMobileShopper was born; a persona who would review, critique and praise those applications in the fashion marketplace. The website is mainly as a reminder to myself of how fashion apps have started and progressed via updates and re-designs, yet I also wanted to offer up this information to those in a similar situation to myself. I'm sure that if I am researching fashion app design elements, there must be someone else in this giant world that is doing the same. I'm hoping that they come here for help and never leave empty handed.
You may be interested about why exactly I got into such a niche. Or you might just be interested in studying for a PhD, especially in the fashion sector. Well... I finished my degree at the University of Manchester studying fashion retailing (more about that below) and there was an option for one of the new lecturers to obtain funding for a new PhD student. When I heard the news, it wasn't something I was extremely familiar with. In fact, it wasn't something that had ever crossed my mind as a future career path. Yet after long consideration of the pro's and con's of becoming an academic for three years after three long years of undergraduate study, I realised it was an opportunity that could not be missed. So I applied for the sponsorship, and I got it. Of course, my first class degree helped, but showing passion and enthusiasm for such a brilliant opportunity never goes a miss. I was absolutely thrilled and immediately went out to buy a new wardrobe.
Researching for a PhD is one of my proudest achievements. I have met some fantastic academics and friends who share similar ideas and themes to myself and it amazing to have so much support, especially on those days when nothing clicks into place. We sit in a basement level office in one of Manchester's most beautiful University buildings, and although we don't get to see the light from 9-5, we still manage to read, revise, research and write thousands of words from week to week. It may appear quite boring or tedious, but when you find the idea or theory you have been searching for, it truly is a light bulb moment and your motivation for the following week is restored. Finding so many new and interesting insights to your topic makes the whole process worthwhile and you really feel like you're adding something to academic and industry understanding. Yes, sometimes there are hard and difficult days when you just cant find that reference you're looking for, or you realise your theory is flawed in some way, but it's nothing that a weekend and a shopping trip doesn't fix. Coming back to it the following week, always seems to help.
For anyone looking to study a PhD, I could not push you more in such a direction. If you are passionate and excited to find out new results in your field, to meet lots of new academics who share your passion and to write up your results and share them with academia, then this is the three year path for you. The flexibility of your working hours can not be matched for a start. You will never be allowed to work out your own working hours to suit you, if you worked within the industry. Additionally, working as a graduate teaching assistant alongside the research is so rewarding and a fantastic experience that comes hand in hand with a doctorate. Depending on your skill set and research topic, lecturers can choose you to support them in lectures, assisting the undergraduates, holding seminars and being a helping hand when a student needs a question answering. Never did I think I would be supporting other students when I was sat in their shoes three years prior, but I am so glad I have such an opportunity.
I have always wanted to write about my time at The University of Manchester at undergraduate level. I studied DMFR or Design Management for Fashion Retailing at the University of Manchester, within the School of Materials. The department is otherwise known as the 'Fashion Business Group' now due to the splitting of departments but the premise stays the same. There is still a focus on fashion materials, especially in the first year when you spend a few hours a week in laboratories understanding the weft and warp of a 10cm squared fabric sample. You also test the fabrics, understand fabric qualities and leave with a plethora of quality shopping information. Lets just say I don't buy many things in Polyester anymore.
At the time when of course you're enjoying your new life partying every weekend and odd days in the week, studying pieces of fabric seems quite tedious, yet I am so glad I attended. Alongside these classes, the degree includes a number of modules including CAD - graphic design classes utilising the computer clusters. Here you are taught the Adobe suite, how to design packaging, create new brand logo's, design a new store concept, a mobile app, a website or a fashion magazine as examples. Many hours were spent in those rooms struggling with programmes to let me achieve the result I wanted, but the end product is always something to be proud of. The standard of work that is produced in those classes is incredible, and after viewing the third year design work from 2012, there are some serious designers heading into industry right now. The skills you learn are excellent, and I really enjoyed having something creative to show for hours of work.
I will not go into every module studied, but the overall degree focused on understanding how to be creative in the fashion retail sector, the importance of marketing, branding, product development processes, trend forecasting, fashion retailing and consumer behaviour. If you are interested in becoming a retail store manager, a fashion buyer or a creative fashion marketer, then this might be the degree for you. Studying in Manchester is the best thing I ever did. Yes London may be the Capital, but Manchester is definitely the Capital of the North, without the bustle, without the sightseers, and with as many fashion retailers that you could only dream of. Come to Manchester, you really won't regret it!
So at the end of my degree, with a first class honours, a portfolio of creative design work and a brain filled with fashion retailing knowledge, I was stuck in the position of finding a career. This is the point in which the PhD came across my path, and I have never looked back. Carrying on from the knowledge of fashion retailing, the move into researching fashion retailing apps and the implications on the consumer, fitted perfectly. Having that background knowledge only helped in building up a thorough understanding of marketing practices, mobile technology and consumer behaviours and I would hope to label myself as an expert in the field. So what next?
I do not know what the future holds for me at this stage. I have moved into my third and final year at PhD level and the progress I have made so far means that I am on track for finishing in September 2013. At some point I will be travelling around America in search of my inner adventurer and as a completion of six years of University studying. I'm sure when I am lying under the stars in Arizona... I will realise that it is all finally over with a smile on my face. But until then, I have a lot of writing, research and analysing to do. My career aspirations lie in luxury fashion retailing, due to my taste for anything expensive, Mulberry related or Jeffrey Campbells. I would love to work for a luxury retailer in their online marketing team, strategising their mobile commerce opportunities and design choices. Its what I am best at, and I really hope that someone will see that. Otherwise, I would love to share my mobile, online and marketing knowledge with students, become a lecturer and hopefully inspire others the way that I have been inspired. But I have another year to ponder over these alternative paths and we all know that a lot can happen in a year. Until then...