March 2, 2020

Conor at work

My name is Conor McCoy, I’m from Cardiff, Wales, and I’m a BA Fashion Design student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

I’ve always been fashion conscious, but it wasn’t until I matured and grew up a bit that I developed a real love and passion for it.

When I left high school a lot of young men were told that pursuing a trade in the construction industry was the best way to ensure we could make something of ourselves.

My interest in fashion is practical – it’s all based on the craft and quality of individual garments. I appreciate fashion’s expressive power, and how for my demographic it can signify an aspiration to attain a certain social status.

Fashion is a big departure from where I started.

Young and impressionable, I listened, and I qualified as a carpenter. I worked in the industry for 6 years. But no matter what I worked on or how much money I made from it, I wasn’t happy or passionate about what I was doing.

The transition to studying Fashion Design was a pretty dramatic one, and it was definitely risky. Also, where I’m from, fashion design isn’t really a go-to career choice. But it was something I wanted to do for myself – so I went for it.

The craft of fashion really appeals to me.

I arrived on the fashion design degree stereotypically inept compared to the average fashion student, but it didn’t discourage me. I knew who I was and what I wanted to achieve. People often have the perception fashion is just about ‘fluffy’ dresses and make up. Well in reality it’s the opposite – it takes a lot of grit, determination and hard work.

When I started my degree I set myself some ambitious goals. Thanks to the unbelievable facilities here, and more importantly the help I’ve received from my course leaders Irene Dee, Bethan Willicombe and the Cardiff Met Centre for Entrepreneurship team, I’m well on the way to achieving them.

I’m now a 2nd year student with two successful start-up businesses Queensberry Design and Taper. My brother Kurtis, who’s a first year Cardiff Met Fashion Design student, also works with me.

Queensberry Design specialises in creating the highest quality fight kit for boxers. We use the most luxurious fabrics that signify modern prestige sportswear. Our fight kits are defined by attention to detail and an emphasis on fit and finish.

My other business, Taper, brings together fashion design and barbering – we create bespoke barber’s gowns. The gowns are one of a kind, and offer barber shops a chance to create a personalised luxury feel that’s tailored perfectly to their aesthetic.

Since starting my businesses, I’ve been shortlisted for the UK Santander young entrepreneurship award, so I’m in the running to win £25,000 of investment funding.

I feel like I’m a testament to the fact that fashion doesn’t have to be elitist. I’m proud to be challenging fashion stereotypes, and I believe everyone should know that fashion is for anyone who wants to work hard and be a part of something.

Cardiff Met has given me my start in the fashion industry, and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who aspires to be a fashion designer. I’m happy with where I am and how far I’ve come, but I know I have so much further to go.