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Libby Chilton, MA Fashion, Enterprise and Society


Since graduating in 2009 from the University of Newcastle with a BA in fine art, Libby has lived and worked in Paris, and run her own accessories business in London, before moving back up north.

Having felt she had lost a little direction, she was keen to get back into education, get back into doing something where her interests lie - and back to what triggered her to start the accessories label in the first place. The MA Fashion, Enterprise and Society programme at the University of Leeds was the perfect opportunity and, after saving up for the year, Libby was ready to start.

“The course is quite full on but I feel, after having a few years out working, I am coming at it from a different angle as I did perhaps my undergraduate. As this programme is only a year and I have a lot of commitments, I have a lot to fit in.  I’m also very aware I need to make the most of my year and take advantage of as many opportunities available on campus.”

The MA Fashion, Enterprise and Society degree enables students to explore fashion from social, cultural and commercial dimensions in order to understand how diverse perspectives influence fashion theory and practice.

The Enterprise aspect of the course was a big draw to the course for me - the combination was important. I’ve set up my own online vintage brand so everything I am learning about enterprise is adding to the development of my brand. I’ve met some really interesting entrepreneurs through the programme and listened to their stories and experiences of starting a business.

“The teaching is really interesting; one module which especially interests me is Enterprise and Society – I’m really interested in how, in practice, this works in fashion enterprise and how retailers are using corporate social responsibility in a positive way.”

“The course opens your mind to be entrepreneurial; it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to start a business but in your life/work you can have a certain attitude and I think that’s important and it’s an innovative way to look at the future and your career.”

In addition to her studies, Libby runs an online vintage brand: Harvest Moon Vintage. She recently applied for and was awarded a SPARK Enterprise Scholarship.

Through the course, she is learning about the fashion industry, how to be innovative in terms of design: “Retailers have got lazy; they churn out the same un-exciting things. The way things are manufactured has not really changed for a long time, and I feel a lot of innovation is needed if we are to consider the importance of our future and environment – it’s possibly about changing consumer’s perspectives. The fashion industry is not just about making clothes, it’s about the bigger picture.”

“I think people are starting to become conscious that we consume a lot and are thinking of ways, as individuals and businesses, how to change that. It is important, and great, that students are getting educated at this level, through courses like the MA, then going onto work in the industry with the knowledge to make a positive change.”

Following the MA, Libby would like to continue working on her own brand whilst gaining some more experience working within the industry.