Why Leeds is the perfect place to study Fashion
Take a look inside the world of graduate fashion in Leeds
With three major institutions teaching Fashion across Leeds, it is unsurprising that pieces from Leeds fashion graduates are among the best of the country. This year, Leeds Beckett held its first ever graduate runway show, which showcased the students talent to the rest of Leeds. Similarly, Leeds Collage of Art showed off the graduates pieces in their ‘Extra-ordinary’ exhibition and a catwalk presentation.
We spoke to Sophie Miller Wallace, PR and Communications Officer at Leeds Collage of Art, to learn more about the different opportunities which fashion students and graduates have in Leeds, and what makes the fashion scene in the city stand out above the rest.
What makes the city of Leeds stand out as a place to study fashion?
“Leeds has always had a reputation as a destination for the clothing industry, with a long standing history as a producer of cloth and companies such as Burton and Hepworth’s who pioneered manufacturing, branding and retailing the early 20th century. Harvey Nichols opened their first store outside London in Leeds in 1996, and Burberry intend to open their second hub outside London here later this year.
“Fashion students at Leeds College of Art maintain close contact with industry, including industry visits, competitions, work experience, live briefs and visiting professionals. As a specialist art school, we have excellent facilities and resources available to all out students; and encourage collaboration with photography, fine art, printed textiles and graphic design degree students on a range of projects and activities”.
What are some of the graduates going on to do next?
“One of our 2017 graduates has landed a role as a designer and visual merchandiser at Marks and Spencer’s, having impressed them as a volunteer at the Leeds International Festival fashion event. Other students are looking at setting up their own labels, and one is awaiting news following an interview at Chanel in Paris!
Over the years our students have gone to work as designers for ASOS and Topshop, some setting up their own labels, and others, such as Lizzie Harrison, becoming ambassadors for sustainability in the industry. One former student, Ria Sharma, has gone on to win awards after setting up Make Love Not Scars, an organisation aiming to identify and support the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors”.
Do you think the fashion scene in Leeds is growing? Are there many opportunities for fashion graduates in this city?
“The scene here continues to grow with developments such as Victoria Gate, and independent retailers thriving in the arcades. The Leeds International Festival gave students a chance to showcase their work on the catwalk, as well as supporting bigger brands with their shows. The Fashion in Leeds network connects industry professionals, retailers and students alike, providing online and real life opportunities to meet and collaborate with likeminded individuals and to explore the exiting scene in the city.
We introduced a BA (Hons) in Fashion Photography in 2016 for students interested in producing innovative and exciting fashion images, and will be adding BA (Hons) Fashion Branding with Communication to the portfolio of courses in 2018 to providing more opportunities for students to access the full spectrum of the industry.”
Choosing to study in Leeds is the first step to graduating into a city of opportunity. Graduates do not necessarily need to move away to make it in the industry, as this city has grown from it’s textile roots, into a hub of fashion activity.