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London College of Fashion teams up with Zegna Foundation

The London College of Fashion, Zegna Foundation and the weaving centre San Patrignano are joining forces on a social enterprise ‘Making for Change’ to demonstrate how fashion can promote rehabilitation and social inclusion by combining cutting edge design with ancient craft techniques.

The project, named "Conscious Contemporary Tailoring” was born from an idea from the Zegna Foundation, and aims to enhancing craft skills and the ability to design and innovate, with an emphasis on the values of recovery and social integration.

The social enterprise began with Tom Adams, London College of Fashion course leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Menswear and Bethany Williams, a menswear designer and recent graduate visited the weaving workshop of San Patrignano and working with the women to create fabrics using the traditional technique of handloom.

The weaving centre at San Patrignano was created more than thirty years ago to give women in rehab a chance to learn the ancient craft technique to create textiles with their own hands by weaving. They worked with Adams and Williams to produce unique textile samples made by interlacing industrial waste materials, or textile fibres, paper or plastic.

These fabrics were then used as the basis and inspiration for a design competition involving 70 London College of Fashion menswear students, with the final selection of six winning designed announced by a college committee on June 28.

During the summer, all finished fabrics will pass from the hands of community weavers in San Patrignano to those of the women at Making for Change, a fashion training and manufacturing unit, based in a women’s prison in the UK set up by the London College of Fashion and the Ministry of Justice. It is at the prison where the winning sketches will take shape.

Anna Zegna on behalf of Fondazione Zegna explains: “As seen already by its name, Conscious Contemporary Tailoring is a special project identified by three important words that give central focus to the value of the people, the contemporaneity of its inspiration, and the stylistic and textile reference points of the idea.

“The London College of Fashion, the San Patrignano weaving department and Fondazione Zegna have created something extraordinary by combining the manual skills of ancient crafts with innovative technologies and new elements of creativity. I am particularly attached to this project because it recalls the attention to social issues that was so dear to my grandfather, and that remains intact through the spirit and commitment of Fondazione Zegna.”

Professor Frances Corner, head of London College of Fashion, UAL, added: “This project comes under our work of Better Lives, a term we use at LCF to describe how fashion can be used as a discipline to drive change, build a sustainable future and improve the way we live.

“As Head of London College of Fashion, I have a long-standing commitment to Better Lives, and I know that education is a key factor in the rehabilitation process and keeping people out of prison. Social enterprises such as Making for Change and San Patrignano are vital in ensuring access to the creative industries for all; they give individuals the chance to become independent and contribute to society in a more positive way, and I strongly believe that talent and creativity know no social or cultural boundaries.”

The final part of the project will see a small collection of clothing accessories manufactured by women at Making for Change presented to the general public in the autumn.

Image: courtesy of London College of Fashion