Hannah Dean has been working at Burberry for almost a year. The application process was extensive, with five different interviews by video and in person, but Hannah joined a new department with potential to make a big impact at the iconic luxury brand.
The team identified new uses for excess raw materials throughout the design and manufacturing stages, contributing to the company’s move toward a circular economy. For Hannah, this meant a focus on where materials could be re-purposed and re-used to make beautiful luxury fashion and accessories both sustainably and economically.
“It was very varied,” Hannah explains.
“It needed a mix of creative thinking, using my fashion design training and understanding what fabrics and materials are suited to different uses, and bringing in that wider analysis of the business with inventory, suppliers and logistics. Waste needs a lot of thought and care to maximise its value.”
Hannah’s career began with an industrial placement year during her Fashion Design degree, working on luxury product design at Margaret Howell.
After she came back to the University of Leeds for her final year, Future Fashion Factory supported her travel to London to take part in Burberry’s hackathon event in April 2019.
Design students from different disciplines and across the UK, including five from the University of Leeds, were split into teams to develop a new take on Burberry’s iconic trench coats – all of which are still produced at the brand’s manufacturing facilities in West Yorkshire.
As a member of the winning team, Hannah took home a trench coat of her own as well as one-to-one mentoring with the company’s Chief Information Officer. That relationship gave her the support to apply for roles within the company, and she took up her post as a Supply Chain Assistant last September.
“My Leeds degree equipped me with creative skills as well as an academic and analytical background,” Hannah says, “and that opened doors to a wide range of roles in the business. When that role came up it looked so interesting I just went for it.”
Burberry has repeatedly expressed its commitment to reducing waste and building the brand’s sustainability. In July, CEO Marco Gobbetti was one of more than 50 business leaders who signed a joint statement led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation pledging to continue working to “build back better”, and calling on corporations and governments to focus on moving toward circular economies.
As a core partner in Future Fashion Factory, the brand is also working with industry and academic partners to drive new innovations making the fashion and textile industry more agile and reducing environmental impacts.
Building an understanding of the whole supply chain has proved invaluable for Hannah as her career at Burberry progresses, as she has just taken up a new role in product development for ready-to-wear menswear.
Working collaboratively with design, merchandising and product engineering, Hannah’s new team supports the development of new collections. As the first point of contact for manufacturing partners, the team ensures design ideas are translated into physical products effectively and that new ideas take production capabilities into account.
Liaising with colleagues at every stage of the product lifecycle has given Hannah the in-depth knowledge to help Burberry achieve its goal of balancing commercial appeal with high fashion.
“It’s the other end of the process – ideation and sampling rather than end of life – but having that understanding of materials and the wider supply chain gives you valuable context,” Hannah says.
“This isn’t where I originally thought my career would take me, but it’s fascinating. I’m excited to see where it leads.”