Paulina Czajor portrait

Paulina Czajor

Kingston University

Shanghai seems to me like a place where technology, creativity and business all meet and collaborate.

Profile

I love new challenges and I’m constantly looking for new ways of pushing myself out of my comfort zones. Four years ago I moved from my home country Poland to study fashion design in London. Changing the environment, meeting new people and getting to know different cultures are the most crucial sources of inspiration for my projects. 

The rapidly emerging importance of China within the fashion industry makes me very excited about spending a whole month of interning in Shanghai. I always feel like even though there is so many Chinese students studying at Kingston we don't use that opportunity enough to get to know each other properly and exchange our views, learn more about our cultures, project influences and different perspectives on all the spheres of art and design. I believe that our TTI programme can work as an “ice-breaker” to finally start a conversation between young creatives from both cultures which will be greatly beneficial for the future. 

Many of the Chinese designers whose work I particularly admire and look up to, have been studying in London and are now working between Europe and China. Unique inspiration they draw from both European and Chinese influences allows them to produce truly cosmopolitan and outstanding work. 
As a fashion student specialising in knitwear and having particular interest in fabric innovation and development, I believe that China is a key inspirational hub as a world leader in textiles production and export. I expect to learn a lot from it. Moreover, Shanghai seems to me like a place where technology, creativity and business all meet and collaborate. Can not wait to become a part of this exciting environment in June. 
 

Report

Going to China was a big challenge for me firstly because I’ve never been abroad beyond Europe, secondly I was to undertake my first fashion internship. Breaking free from all my comfort zones made it however a truly extraordinary experience.

Four weeks in this buzzing hub of technology, business and creativity is definitely a bare minimum to really get a feel like you’re a part of this city. I can assure though that once you live there for a month you will never want to go back! Especially when you’re young and creative this city offers so many opportunities to learn and develop! Traveling there with 7 other wonderful people and foremost talented individuals was a chance to test all those different opportunities in various spheres of design whilst interning in different companies, supporting and inspiring each other.

Leanne and I undertook an internship there with a fashion brand called All Comes From Nothing. We were lucky to land there when Eva, the creative director and founder of the brand, was just on the beginning of work on the SS19 collection for New York Fashion Week. It allowed us to be involved in all the exciting bits of collection’s development such as research, initial print design or fabric choices. Because the brand is relatively small we were exposed to range of different tasks and worked closely with all team members.

Since Eva wanted us to learn as much as possible, we had the opportunity to assist during fittings, during the meeting with fabric supplier from Japan as well as visited a fabric market. Having done several industry lead projects in my second year it was great experience to see how developing a fashion collection works in real life. Especially whilst working for a different Chinese customer. A lot of emphasis in the studio was put on good technical drawings, therefore by the end of the internship I could notice a great improvement of my shape and proportion awareness.

Leanne and I received a lot of incredibly helpful advice on careers in fashion too. Eva completed her masters in Chicago hence she had incredibly interesting views on fashion market differences between the US and China. Since she gained her professional experience working for brands such as Michael Kors or Ralph Lauren and now she’s running her own label, she has a very good sense of comparison on how big and small businesses work. Speaking with her about it was really eye opening and I want to thank Eva again for sharing all her knowledge with Leanne and I.

Getting into a working week routine as well as interacting with Chinese people who actually work and live there let me feel like a Shanghainese and look at the city from the perspective more of a local rather than tourist. Spending every free moment after our work and during weekends wandering through endless, leafy streets of the city, visiting art galleries or just observing local people gave me a real feeling of the city’s spirit. I was amazed by the Power station of Art contemporary art museum, however I think the most inspired I got simply through observing locals living their day to day lives. The people I spotted having their midday naps, old ladies beautifully unaware of how stylish they are, blowing my mind colourful raincoats of scooter riders, old men strolling around the city in pjs… All of them will live forever in my memories and in hundreds of intimate photographs I have taken during that month. I’m looking forward to go back to Shanghai in a close future to see it all again.

Finally, I wanted to also say thank you to Lynn from SIFEC for organizing an accommodation for us for a month, transport from and to the airport as well as providing an English speaking tour guide for Leanne and I for a visit to the Shanghai Textile Museum! All this kindness made us all feel very welcome and we settled in and instantly felt in Shanghai like at home.

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