Students have faced massive challenges in the past year, often working remotely to finish their degrees and make a start in a difficult job market. Felicity Lammas found her placement year suddenly cut short in the first national lockdown, and now finds herself at the start of an exciting career in sustainability.
As a BA Fashion Marketing student at the University of Leeds, Felicity cultivated her passion for sustainable practices and how actors throughout the fashion supply chain can communicate their commitment to sustainable business.
“Covid-19 has accelerated conversations and driven awareness of unsustainable practices that prevail within our fashion industry. Social media has played a significant role in exposing these practices to consumer audiences,” she explains. “Today brands can’t be seen by their consumer audiences to ignore their impact when it comes to sustainability.”
It was this interest that led to a placement year at ASOS, supporting the Responsible Materials team to achieve the company’s ambitious target of using 100% more sustainable materials by 2025. Thanks to an internal restructure Felicity found herself taking on additional tasks connected to ASOS’s circularity strategy and supply chain facilities.
When she was placed on furlough last March, she started searching for summer internships and landed two different part-time roles with the same sustainable focus.
First came the Materials Innovation Initiative, where she undertook research supporting the proposal of a new lexicon for communicating about next-generation materials. Then Felicity also joined transparency platform Open Apparel Registry, mapping suppliers that had pivoted to producing personal protective equipment (PPE) worldwide amidst the pandemic. And as both internships came to an end, Felicity applied for a role with Copenhagen-based Global Fashion Agenda.
“It was advertised as a six-month internship. I applied knowing I might only be able to work two months before coming back to Leeds for my final year, but it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss and they could always say no!” she says.
Felicity relocated to Copenhagen a few weeks later, just before UK travel restrictions tightened. With remote teaching then forecasted for the whole of her final year, she extended her contract at GFA and completed her studies alongside her role.
The internship gave Felicity experience of working on large-scale projects, engaging with brands that had committed to GFA’s 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment to assess how well goals had been met. At the close of the initiative, signatories celebrated meeting two-thirds of their targets in spite of the barriers caused by the pandemic.
With her final semester approaching and her six months at GFA coming to an end, Felicity had impressed the team so much that she was offered the opportunity to become their permanent Sustainability Manager.
“I genuinely couldn’t believe it. I think back to when I first applied without even knowing travel would be possible, let alone staying in Copenhagen longer than 3 months. Now it feels like home,” she smiles.
“I will be forever grateful for both the experiences and the networks I gained at ASOS and placements which followed. Without those I would not be where I am today. I now hope to do justice to my new role, surrounded by a supportive team who want to help me develop and learn.”
Much of Felicity’s role now focuses on keeping sustainability at the top of the fashion agenda through GFA’s Fashion CEO Agenda publication, collaborating with other nonprofits to co-ordinate and align on industry target-setting and progress measurements. It even became the basis for the dissertation she submitted this spring, exploring the best ways to present and communicate written thought leadership content to the fashion industry.
And despite juggling so many responsibilities, she also submitted her final year project: a networking platform offering a pre-competitive space for brands and innovators to collaborate on new ideas for sustainable fashion. It was shortlisted for the New Media award sponsored by TikTok at Graduate Fashion Week, topping a whirlwind year that has set her on a fascinating career path.
“I’ve found a great place to grow and explore my interest, and I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to work in Denmark while I finished my studies,” Felicity explains. “I’m excited to see where it takes me.”