Leicester garment manufacturers have been showcasing their innovative skills at a factory exhibition and fashion show.
The exhibition took place on June 16 at the Athena, in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, and was organised by Fashion-Enter Ltd. Fashion-Enter is the social enterprise that is working with Leicester City Council to run a training and skills centre called the Fashion Technology Academy (Leicester).
The event included dedicated showcase spaces for 30 local garment factories and textile businesses, as well as displays from seven local designers to demonstrate the high standards, craftsmanship and quality of their garment and textile work.
It culminated in a fashion show (pictured), celebrating the vibrancy of talent in Leicester. Fashion-Enter worked closely with a local fashion designer Millie and the Mode Collective to co-ordinate, choreograph and stage the show, which included spoken word and contemporary dance.
The fashion show featured garments from eight local businesses and seven designers, with clothing ranging from ultra-glam fashion to urban streetwear, displaying the variety of garment manufacturing skills available in Leicester today.
Fashion teams from big names including Asos, I Saw it First, Quiz, Solander, the Very group, Missy Empire and Boohoo attended the event, making links and networking with local Leicester factories, to help identify future business opportunities. It was also attended by lots of fashion start-ups, independents and entrepreneurs.
Since opening to students in November 2021, the academy has welcomed more than 140 students, achieving 99 qualifications to date. Courses cover skills such as sewing, tailoring and pattern cutting, as well as important topics such as workers’ rights and labour exploitation. Sixty-six students received their Level 1 qualifications in workers’ rights and labour exploitation at the academy recently, helping to drive up standards in the industry.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke said: “Our engagement with Fashion-Enter is part of our strategic approach to redefining Leicester’s garment industry. We’re determined to promote what the sector does well and to raise standards through this partnership whilst working partners with enforcement powers to drive out exploitation and maladministration as we await more decisive Government action to be taken nationally to tackle these problems.
“The fashion academy is doing great work, not only in training local people to enter the industry, but also in making links between local suppliers and industry buyers, ensuring that factories and brands are operating at the high standards we want to see. Shorter supply chains are surely the way forward in making the garment industry more sustainable, ethical and accountable.”
Jenny Holloway, CEO of Fashion-Enter, said: “It’s time to be proud of Leicester manufacturers. Proximity sourcing is the only way forward for transparency and speed of response and thanks to the council’s successful bid to the Government’s Community Renewal Fund, we were able to host this factory exhibition and showcase the factories’ work in our fashion show.
“We want to engage with schools too in the community to encourage pupils to consider how great manufacturing is, and educate the next generation about the different jobs there are in the sector.
“Over the past five months we have been working with a wide range of factories and undertaken business diagnostics to ensure they are fit for purpose to supply retail chains and retailers. There really are some excellent highly skilled manufacturers in Leicester and we’re proud to be working with them.
“We’ve also recently launched Leicester Made, a fantastic resource promoting our local garment businesses. It’s a free online directory for anyone, UK or overseas, who would like to source and make clothing in Leicester.”
The Fashion Technology Academy (Leicester) offers apprenticeships and accredited training for people who work in, or want to work in, the textiles industry. Current courses are free to people who are unemployed and apprenticeships at various levels are available to employers.
Based in Stonebridge Street, at the heart of Leicester’s garment industry, the academy shares a state of the art building with renowned local clothing company Ethically Sourced Products Ltd, which has made the second floor of its premises available for the project.
Anyone who is interested in finding out more about courses at the Fashion Technology Academy (Leicester) can visit https://fcfta.com/