What is The Leeds Fashion Initiative?
The Leeds Fashion Initiative is a collective of key educational and industry bodies, led by Lambert’s Yard and backed by Leeds City Council, which aims to reinvigorate the city region’s fashion, clothing and textile manufacturing industries. The initiative was conceived by local arts charity Regeneration through the Arts (RTTA) and sets out to re-establish Leeds as a major international centre for fashion design, fashion tech, clothing and textile manufacturing. At the heart of the initiative is the Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE – part of London College of Fashion), who are developing a three year strategic plan, as part of a wide ranging series of other initiatives, leading to a European bid for the establishment of permanent infrastructure. With special thanks for the assistance of Leeds Fashion Works and Yorkshire Textiles, whose work over the last seven years has helped to develop widespread recognition of fashion, skills and textiles in the Leeds City Region and continues to help and inspire the Leeds Fashion Initiative.
The aims of the LFI can be summarised as follows:-
• To build on Leeds industrial heritage to provide opportunity for the future.
• To develop a cohesive fashion, manufacturing and textiles strategy for the region.
• To bring national and international expertise to the city.
• To establish an LFI steering group and with it “a voice” that will help position Leeds as a recognised industry hub, in political and European circles.
• To establish of permanent LFI infrastructure in Leeds, as part of a wider European network of fashion associations.
• To position the LFI at the forefront of fashion associations across Europe.
• To position Leeds as the leading UK centre for the fashion industry, outside London.
• To position Leeds as the leading UK centre for the fashion tech industry.
• To attract inward investment into the city
• To co-ordinate and leverage Leeds City Councils fashion and textiles strategies for the benefit of the wider initiative.
• To establish Leeds as a regional magnet for those wishing to succeed in the fashion
Education & training
• To open a Fashion Design Incubator and Garment Technology Workshop.
• To provide enhanced educational and training opportunities.
• To bridge the skills gap between further education and industry.
• To provide a support network for the regions emerging fashion design talent.
• To deliver an ongoing programme of training courses for emerging designers.
• To increase the attractiveness of the regions universities and colleges to fashion students.
• To develop specialist courses in relation to wearable technologies.
• To help retain graduates in the region.
• To develop a Membership Network to link currently disparate parts of the regions fashion, clothing and textile manufacturing industries.
• To provide advice and assistance to the regional businesses, some of whom are major employers and are experiencing periods of rapid change.
• To develop links with national, international and Leeds based tech companies in relation wearable technologies.
• To co-ordinate the industry throughout the region.
• To provide easy access to all parts of the regional supply chain.
• To attract inwards investment into the supply chain.
• To create new jobs, both directly and in the regional supply chain.
• To create the circumstances that will lead to the creation of new micro businesses.
• To provide a support network that encourages the growth of those businesses created.
• To promote Leeds as a major international centre for independent fashion design and independent fashion retailing.
• To promote Leeds as the leading UK centre for fashion tech.
• To promote Leeds as a major international centre for clothing and textile manufacturing.
• To attract high profile fashion industry figures in support of the regional industry.
•To showcase the regions innovators in design and manufacturing.
The ethos of the Leeds Fashion Initiative is very much one of collaboration and the belief that everyone has something to offer and everything to gain from collaboration. As such, the initiative has received widespread support from a range of stakeholders, all of who are actively involved in helping to deliver the LFI vision. These include:-
• University of Leeds
• Leeds Beckett University
• Leeds College of Art
• University of Huddersfield
• Kirklees College
•University of York
• Lamberts Yard Limited
• A W Hainsworth & Sons Ltd
• Yorkshire Textiles
• Leeds Chamber
• City Fusion Limited
• Hebe Media
• Centre for Fashion Enterprise
• British Fashion Council
Civic & charitable
• Leeds City Council
• The Princes Trust
• Regeneration through the Arts
In addition to those named there are a number of other partners supportive of and / or involved in the initiative in some capacity and more are joining every day.
In 2012, RTTA identified the CFE as having the expertise, the experience and the contacts necessary to develop a fashion incubator in Leeds, as part of its vision of reinvigorating the regions fashion, clothing and textile manufacturing industries.
The CFE’s background is as the UK’s only provider of support to the fashion design industry and it has an impressive record of developing design talent and helping it achieve success in both national and international markets. Alumni include Peter Pilotto, J.W. Anderson, Mary Katrantzou, Marios Schwab, Holly Fulton, Marques Almeida, Craig Green and Adrien Sauvage. It also has unique experience creating and managing the supply chains that service their designers and facilitating regional manufacturing hubs, notably in Hackney, North East London.
In June 2014, with funding from Leeds City Council and City Fusion, Lambert’s Yard brought the CFE’s New Market Entry Programme (NMEP) to Leeds for the very first time. This two day event for twenty emerging fashion designers, comprised a series of talks, workshops and one to one mentoring sessions, developed to help the designers take their businesses to the next level. The NMEP was followed up with a monthly support group, run by Lambert’s Yard and in November 2014, five designers were selected to receive six months of intensive support from CFE and Lambert’s Yard, as part of the CFE’s New Fashion Pionee Programme.
Both programmes have been a great success and have led to designers showing at London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week and obtaining wholesale representation. The 2015 New Market Entry Programme is
taking place at Lambert’s Yard in November / December.
The Fashion Incubator is seen as being a key building block of the LFI and is supported by all the regions universities and colleges. Lambert’s Yard already works in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and Leeds College of Art, providing educational support, developing course modules and providing advice to and in store promotion of, the students and discussions are taking place with regard to an exchange of resources and ongoing collaboration in respect of the proposed incubator. Partnerships with the remaining institutions are expected to follow suit.
The incubator will provide studio space, manufacturing equipment and ancillary facilities, have the support infrastructure necessary to nurture future generations of young design talent and will be overseen by Lambert’s Yard and the CFE. The CFE are in the process of carrying out workspace planning and working on a bid for European funding. The incubator is expected to open, fitted to a very basic standard in January 2016 and is seen by the universities and colleges as an aspirational ‘next step’ for their best students and as being fundamental to establishing the region as the foremost place to study and subsequently pursue a career in fashion.
Assuming funding is obtained the incubator will be permanently staffed and will provide the following services, both to the designers selected to attend and to the wider regional industry.
• Studio space
• Access to manufacturing equipment
• Business support
• Regular CFE New Market Entry & New Fashion Pioneer programmes
• Marketing & promotion
• Retail and wholesale services
• Co-ordination, advice & information exchange
• Supply chain management
The services will be provided by both full time staff and LFI stakeholders.
As part of their brief, the CFE are consulting on the formation of an advisory board to steer the LFI, which will be headed by a senior fashion industry figure and comprise local counsellors, council officers, representatives from the CFE and the regions universities and colleges, representatives from local clothing and textiles manufacturers, training agencies and representatives from Lambert’s Yard. The board will be supported by a
separate educational board, comprising representatives from the regions universities and colleges.
The CFE are currently working on their strategy and will report their initial findings in the run up to the launch. In the meanwhile they and Lamberts Yard are accepting applications from designers for this year’s New
Market Entry Programme, which will take place at Lamberts Yard on the 30th November and 1st December 2015, following the Lambert’s Yard Autumn Consortium festival which is taking place between 8th and 22nd October 2015. Places on the NMEP are limited and the application deadline is 18th November 2015.
Further information about the Leeds Fashion Initiative and its programmes can be found on the Lambert’s Yard web site www.lambertsyard.com and anyone wishing to register their interest in becoming involved is invited to do so by emailing email@example.com. Alternatively those wishing to register for consideration for a place on the NMEP should apply at http://www.fashion-enterprise.com/cfe-international/leeds or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For any other information please contact Rosie at Lambert’s Yard,
162 – 163 Lower Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LY, Tel: 0113 302 3077.