Charli Senior is a Fashion Designer based in London, UK. She has been Design Assistant at sustainable fashion brand COS since 2022.   

Charli graduated in 2020 from BA (Hons) Fashion at Leeds Arts University.

Here she tells us about what inspires her, her experience of working in a design team and how sustainability is at the heart of her practice:

"I generally gravitate towards Japanese design for inspiration, likely because I often explore minimalism, asymmetry, and natural forms within my work. I always find myself pulling from various sources when researching, as I believe varied and in-depth research develops a more considered and well-rounded collection.

From my experience, design teams have been much smaller than I’d imagined. I’m currently a part of a wovens team (of three) who research and design for the upcoming collections. Our daily jobs vary from; collecting reference pieces to creating CADs and tech packs for production. We regularly work alongside the buying team, pattern cutters and head of womenswear, to review the collection and conduct fittings. Most days we balance both the current collection, and the following season, which equates for a fast pace across the office."

Image: Prints by Charli Senior for Mashu. Photograph Mashu.

Image: Prints by Charli Senior for Mashu. Photograph Mashu

COS is known as a sustainable fashion brand, has sustainability always been an important part of your practice?

"Sustainably has always been crux of my practice, starting first as a lifestyle choice. Therefore, I feel very fortunate to be able to work somewhere that holds sustainability at its core. During my time at university, I often explored the use of ethical and innovative design ideas in my work. Whether this was using natural fibres, or creating bioplastic buttons, I looked to the past and future to find sustainable methods and materials."

What has been your favourite collaboration?

"When I first moved to London after graduating in 2020, I thought I’d try my luck and reach out to vegan and sustainable bag brand Mashu. I’d followed the brand for quite some time and had always admired their products and ethos. At the time, I’d only just graduated, so wasn’t expecting anything to come from my email. However, after meeting with the founder, I started freelancing for them across several projects. This was definitely a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment, haha. My favourite project with Mashu so far was creating a series of prints for their bags, which are all currently available on their website."

Image: left, Hunger, skirt by Charli Senior; right, Hunger, top by Charli Senior.

Image: Balaclava Charli Senior, dress @planet.soph 

What did you do straight after finishing your course?

"I was lucky enough to be able to move straight to London. After moving I started to freelance as a designer and stylist while interning part time for Sadie Williams. Being in London gave me a good platform to start connecting with people and gain work experience. It took four (emotional) months before I got my first permanent job. But in the time leading up to this, I tried to be proactive and got involved in quite a few exciting projects."

What do you remember the most about your studies at Leeds Arts University?

"The university has amazing resources, and is something I wish I’d used more while there. It was great to have access to the library and workshops, which really helped develop skills outside of my degree."

Do you have any tips or advice for current students or recent graduates wanting to work in your field?

"The best advice I’ve been given is to be resilient. There is a lot of competition, especially within the design field, which can feel disheartening initially. My tip would be to stay proactive and keep reaching out! If you don’t get a reply the first time, don’t be deterred and reach out again."

Are there any future projects or plans that you can tell us about?

"For now I’m going to be focusing on developing in my current role and been a part of my team at COS. My personal projects have been put on a back burner for the time being… but I have a few ideas to explore later in the year."