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M&S has announced a nationwide search for its next designer with the launch of a competitive ITV1 and ITVX series, M&S: Dress The Nation, hosted by two of the nation’s favourite TV presenters, AJ Odudu and Vernon Kay.

The series will document the search process from start to finish: over the course of six episodes, 10 candidates will compete to secure a highly coveted in-house design role working alongside some of the best designers in the industry at M&S’ colleague support centre in Paddington, London. 

The retailer wants to hear from people of all walks of life and aims to reiterate that a formal qualification or training in fashion design is not essential. What’s more important is creative flair, a willingness to learn and a passion for design.

Over the course of the recruitment process, the 10 candidates will be set a series of briefs which will assess their design, problem-solving, commerciality and collaboration skills. 

Each brief will be reflective of M&S’ design and product development process – from gathering insights to identifying key product trends to designing and developing original products. Candidates will work out of a purpose-built design studio for the duration of the competition and work individually, as well as in groups, to design & create garments that will resonate with the M&S customer who is seeking style, versatility, value, and quality in their clothing choices. 

Each week a judging panel – made up of senior leaders at M&S alongside a rotation of celebrity guests and designers – will select which budding designers move forward to the next round and one step closer to being crowned the winner. 

The winner of the series will be offered an in-house junior designer role with M&S which will be built around their skillset and experience.  

Anna Braithwaite, M&S Marketing Director – Clothing & Home, said: “The UK has some of the best emerging design talent in the world and we want to meet them. We’re on the look-out for the next generation of designers who can be part of our journey to evolve M&S’ style credentials and design original products that not only appeals to our existing customers but also turns the heads of customers who may not have previously considered us. 

“We know customers loved the behind-the-scenes look at how we deliver Christmas for our customers, so we’re very excited to lift the lid on our Clothing & Home design process for the first time with this brand-new show format.

“It’s going to be fast-paced, creative, and fun – and for the winning candidate a rare opportunity to work alongside some of the best in the business to design collections that will be worn by thousands.” 

AJ Odudu said: “I’m so excited to be hosting M&S: Dress The Nation on ITV alongside my mate Vernon. To host a primetime show that celebrates all things fashion is incredible and I can’t wait to help ITV and M&S unearth some brilliant new design talent. Accessibility to the creative industries for people across the U.K. is so important to me and shows like this provide an opportunity that really could change someone's life forever.”

Vernon Kay said: I’m a strong believer in giving talent the opportunity to be seen and get a chance to make it. This is a great way for budding designers, especially those who don’t necessarily have any formal training or experience, to win a life-changing job at one of Britain’s most loved retailers.  This is gonna be huge for all those who take part. And I’m so looking forward to working alongside AJ again.”

Katie Rawcliffe, Head of Entertainment Commissioning ITV, said: “M&S: Dress The Nation offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a member of the public to be able to design their fashion collection of dreams. We’ve had real success previously marrying two of the UK’s most loved brands in ITV and M&S for food content and so we’re hugely excited to be able to extend this partnership into the world of fashion.”

Bhavit Chandrani, Director of BE Studio from ITV, said: We have a fantastic working relationship with M&S having already worked on the brilliant Cooking with the Stars format and brand-new Tom Kerridge Cooks Britain is coming soon too. We’re really excited to branch out into fashion and can’t wait to see AJ and Vernon guiding prospective designers and viewers alike through the process.”

Melanie Leach, Co-CEO from South Shore said: “We are thrilled to be building on our successful TV partnership between ITV and M&S with the launch of M&S: Dress The Nation. Breaking into fashion can be incredibly hard but this inspiring new format will give one up-and-coming designer the chance to work for one of the UK’s most successful clothing retailers. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

This series comes via BE Studio from ITV, a full-service creative studio producing Ad Funded Entertainment (AFE). BE Studio helps brands build emotional connections with ITV’s audience through the co-creation of entirely new formats, which includes successful M&S partnership Cooking with the Stars and new series Tom Kerridge Cooks Britain. 

The show will air on ITV1 and ITVX from early Autumn.  


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