From education to employment

Fashion Communication alumni social lead for Kickers UK

Fashion Communication alumni social lead for Kickers UK

Ethan Penn graduated from BA (Hons) Fashion Communication at Arts University Plymouth with a First Class Honours in 2019

Arts University Plymouth alumni Ethan Penn has joined Kickers UK as Assistant Brand Manager – Social Lead. Graduating in 2019 with a First Class Honours in BA (Hons) Fashion Communication, Ethan takes on the role after previously working for retail brands ASOS and Everpress.

Originally from Hertfordshire and now based in East London, 24-year-old Ethan said, “I’ve always been a big fan of the brand since having the opportunity to visit Pentland Brands Ltd, who own the licence to Kickers UK, to present as part of my second year. They’ve always been on my radar so when I saw the position on LinkedIn, I knew it was a no brainer.”

Kickers is a youth shoe brand founded in France in 1970, that grew popular in the UK during the 1980s. In the late 80s and early 90s, the Kickers brand really gained popularity as the Manchester music scene began to grow. Firstly with Acid House which was followed by the rave and indie rock movements, creating the infamous ‘Madchester’. The Stone Roses could be seen wearing the iconic Kick Hi in their video for Fools Gold and ravers would be seen swamping the fields in their red Kickers, further fuelled by Noel Gallagher and Jarvis  Cocker with the introduction of Britpop. Since the 90s, they’ve been synonymous with RnB and urban artists and a whole fresh wave of rock bands with Mike Skinner of The Streets celebrating their 40th anniversary at Glastonbury in 2015 by wearing red Kickers on stage. Now, Kickers is ready for the next generation, having overhauled their online presence and embracing modern social media practices which Ethan explores in his new role.

“My role is crazy varied. As Assistant Brand Manager – Social Lead, I head up all the brand’s social media accounts, running both Instagram profiles and the Kickers UK TikTok profile. I create, plan and source all content alongside working with media agencies to explore social analytics, content performance and paid ads. Coming from a predominantly creative background, I have a lot of input into the brand’s visual aesthetic, styling and art directing our ecommerce and creative/talent shoots as well as contributing to seasonal campaigns and special projects. With it being such a small team, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore a range of areas within brand marketing and I’m excited to keep doing so!”

“I’ve learned so much, from influencer outreach and agency management to paid social strategies and commercial understandings. As Kickers UK has three main product offerings, school, kids and then footwear and apparel targeted to Gen Z, I’ve learned so much about these areas. Alongside the specific role responsibilities, I’ve had the opportunity to really work on my confidence and ability to lead campaigns from the initial creation to final execution. I recently led a student event in Manchester with our music PR agency, where we worked with student promoters and hosted an underground club night highlighting the city’s best up-and-coming talent.”

Since graduating, Ethan has worked as a freelance fashion assistant and general creative operating under several renowned London based magazines and stylists, assisting for publications GQ, Boys By Girls and Wonderland. Before joining Kickers, Ethan was previously a Fashion Editor Assistant for NR Magazine, a bi-annual publication focussed on contemporary fashion, art, design and music.

Inspired by the various aesthetics of British youth and subcultures, Ethan regularly incorporates these aspects in his creative projects. Taking inspiration from underground queer culture, Ethan also enjoys publications such as old Playboy editorials and magazines like ‘The Face’.

“The Fashion Communication course at Arts University Plymouth was amazing. I had the best three years with the lecturers and genuinely forged solid friendships for life. The class size allowed me to be really heard and have my creative practice influenced and shaped in the best way. The close-knit and intimate feel gave me a lot of space to grow and learn directly from the tutors and other courses during our interdisciplinary studies. The course also provided some amazing opportunities from an internship at British GQ in my second year and pitching to Pentland Brands Ltd, who I now work for.”

“My advice to someone trying to get into the fashion industry would be availability and vibe! When I was starting out, I assisted a lot of stylists and each job would always lead to another so I would suggest working as hard as you can, make sure you’re always available and leave your mark on whoever you’re working with. In terms of vibes, you can learn a lot of practical skills, but you need to have the right social skills and willingness to engage and learn from those around you. I’ve managed to score so many jobs and internships just from being chatty and friendly, it’s all about your vibe and how you can connect to the other people in the room.”

“Kickers is launching some pretty sweet kicks and garms this year, so I’m excited to take creative lead on all launches and complete my first full year with the brand, plus we’ve got lots of student events planned up and down the UK so keep your eyes open!”

Kirsty Smith, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Communication at Arts University Plymouth said,

“Ethan is a wonderfully energetic person. He quickly realised that creativity was the ultimate form of expression for fashion brands. Ethan’s keen eye for art direction and styling, along with his desire to challenge the status quo, brought a sense of wild brilliance to Fashion Communication. He constantly pushed the boundaries, confident that his creativity would lead him to achieve maximum impact. Via theoretical modules and live briefs, Ethan learnt how to train his eye and master the language of industry. The team are very happy to know that he is working for a brand he loves!”

Arts University Plymouth was voted by students as the top arts university in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2022, voted by students as best Small or Specialist Institution at the annual Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022 and shortlisted for Company of the Year in the National Sustainability Awards 2022. 

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