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Swimwear design secrets at Speedo

Ben's elite design experience at Speedo

Earlier this summer, Central student Ben Chandler spent a week at Speedo getting the latest insights into producing technical swimwear.  Speedo suits are worn by competitive swimmers all over the world, from local clubs like Nottinghamshire-based Nova Centurion, right through to elite swimmers in national and international competitive events around the world, like the World Championships and other major sporting events.

My experience at Speedo – by Ben Chandler, Level 3 Fashion, Textiles and Decorative Arts

I’m studying Fashion, Textiles and Decorative Arts at Central and after a college design project I was lucky enough to win this year’s Nottingham Young Creative Award for Fashion and Textiles in my age category.

Part of the prize was that I got to spend a week working with the staff at Speedo, along with my coursemate Alice Lea Crowe. Speedo set us a real brief to work to, which was to research and design our own swimwear.

Ben And Alice In Action 2Crop

Both of us getting stuck in!

Sporting heritage

While we were there they told us all about Team Speedo which is made up of lots of elite athletes from round the world.

I even caught a glimpse of an Olympic bronze medal-winning swimmer who was working there! All the elite swimsuits worn by swimmers at past major competitive swimming events such as the World Championships were on display, so we got to look at how they’ve changed over the years which was amazing.

I loved my time there as I was made to feel so welcome, with people asking about my story and how I got to be working there.

Diving straight in

So on the first and second day we got to work with Speedo’s design team. We did some research and got to make up some mood boards. Then we looked at designs, colours and fabric and picked out what we wanted to work with. We also got to have a go on the design software they use, which was really good.

On another day we had a goggles workshop with Speedo’s product engineers. We basically drew up some designs for goggles and then I headed to the local pool to test out some of their goggles in the water.  I tested quite a few pairs and there was one that won’t even be launched till next year, they were amazing! It was really great to get some insider industry knowledge.

Ben And Suit Crop

Me with my swim suit design on the mannequin

Getting technical

We did loads of other stuff, like going to their tech centre to cut out patterns and we even got to do some machining and threading up. So, we made the entire costumes up with the staff there and then designed our own logos that were unique to us.

It really opened my eyes to the industry. I think it’s great to say you’ve spent time in a global brand doing something a bit different – that kind of experience shows you’re willing to try anything! It’s a completely different aspect of fashion that you’re learning and it will definitely be good for my CV.

Ben In Action 1 Landscape

Getting to grips with the machines!

Lasting legacy

I’m going into the second year of my course in September, then I’d like to take a gap year to travel and get work experience. I’d love to go back to Speedo, definitely! Then hopefully I’ll go on to university. I think I’d like to do costume design, which I think is a good course because you’re free to specialise depending on say, what your own interests are. Personally, I’m definitely considering going into swimwear design in the future!

I just loved every minute of my time at Speedo headquarters and I’m glad that we were given the opportunity at college to do a module focused on the Young Creative Awards. The project was so much fun anyway and then to go on and win the Fashion and Textiles category with such a great prize was amazing!