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As part of our two-year accelerated degrees, you will be matched with your own dedicated industry mentor to meet with a minimum of once per trimester to support, guide and give insight to working life, sharing a wealth of experience and offering money-can’t buy personal access to some of the top names in fashion retail. See below for some of our current industry mentors at the FRA.

Industry Mentors

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Emma Geary

Emma Geary, Head of Brand Partnerships at MR PORTER 

Marketing & Communications for Fashion Mentor

Emma launched her career at Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire before taking on the role of Creative Services Manager at British Vogue, all within advertising, brand partnerships and content creation. Pivoting to marketing at the Global Head of Cultural Marketing for The Hoxton hotel groups, devising openings in Paris and Williamsburg, NY, Emma returned to fashion with the YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group where she’s worked with brands from Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, Saint Laurent and many more to produce bespoke, high-impact creative. 

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Ivan Korolev

Ivan Korolev - Product Insights Manager (London & Berlin) at Converse

Marketing & Communications for Fashion Mentor

Ivan has spent the last decade working across insights, trends and strategy in a variety of roles. Throughout his career he has specialised in youth culture research and helping brands to connect with their audiences locally and globally.  

Today, Ivan is the Trends & Consumer Insights Manager for London and Berlin at Converse (part of Nike Inc.). In this position he is tasked with supporting the Converse global product and design teams by providing insights to inform their vision and output - all in order to help the brand remain ahead of the trend cycle in Western Europe and inspire new creation. 

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Joanna Welch

Joanna Welch, Founder and Creative Director of Small Stories 

Business Management for Fashion Mentor

Jo has always had a passion for fashion having worked for some of the leading UK high street brands. Jo graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2004 and whilst there decided that she would like to pursue a career in buying. Jo started her career as a fashion accessories buyer for Claire’s Accessories. Jo continued in accessories at Dorothy Perkins and Jane Norman before moving to Kurt Geiger to drive their expansion into accessories. Jo left KG in 2016 to set up her own children’s wear brand, Small Stories, which she continues to run today.  Jo has over 16 years’ experience in the fashion industry and holds a BA HONS in fashion management.

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Kevin Harding

Kevin Harding, Merchandising Manager at Victoria Beckham

Business Management for Fashion Mentor

Kevin Harding is a Merchandising Manager with over ten years of experience. In his current role at Victoria Beckham he manages each collection, overseeing strategy and evolution of multiple product categories. Kevin hasn’t followed the typical Merchandising career path. Having worked at small-scale start-ups to mammoth global brands including Burberry and Alexander McQueen, he took a break from fashion to work in a sector that he’s really passionate about; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Kevin lectures and mentors alongside his full-time merchandising job, keen support and develop the next generation of fashion talent.

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Richard Thornton

Richard Thornton, Senior Buyer – Menswear at The very Group

Buying & Merchandising Mentor

A passionate and committed Senior Buyer, experienced both within the Branded and Private Label Buying sector with ASOS, REISS, Topman and now The Very Group. An avid reader who is a huge fan of French brands such as Ami, Sandro and APC and an even bigger Spurs and Fitness fan.

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Thom Scherdel

Thom Scherdel, Buyer at Browns

Buying & Merchandising Mentor

Fortunate enough to have a wide and unique range of buying experience, from high street and contemporary to luxury and own label. Having worked in the industry since I started at Selfridges when I was 17. Have a true passion for product across all categories and always strive for working collaborations that break ground in whichever sector it may be. A disruptive and commercial approach to special projects championing new brands always and finding new talent from a global search perspective. Currently working at Brown on everything Non-Apparel. This includes all Sneaker Business, Mens Accessories, Fine Jewellery and Watches and Lifestyle. Currently all of the most exciting and progressive departments in the market at present.

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Vanessa Spence

Vanessa Spence, Womenswear & Menswear Design Director at

Buying & Merchandising Mentor

Vanessa Spence joined ASOS in 2007 after starting her career 9 years prior working in design at Arcadia and also briefly at Pepe Jeans. Starting with a team of two, Vanessa was influential in shaping the ASOS brand and now has a team of 100. Vanessa was made Womenswear Design Director in 2015 and promoted to Design Director of both Womenswear and Menswear in 2018 to develop a unified look and feel to the ASOS ranges, trends and collaborations. Now in her current role, Vanessa oversees the design of all product at Vanessa is on the Board of Governors for the Fashion Retail Academy. More recently in 2020, Vanessa joined the Fashion Minority Alliance as one of their resident experts in Fashion Retail.

As part of our two-year accelerated degrees, you will be matched with your own dedicated industry mentor to meet with a minimum of once per trimester to support, guide and give insight to working life, sharing a wealth of experience and offering money-can’t buy personal access to some of the top names in fashion retail. See below for some of our current industry mentors at the FRA.