The luxury fashion houe is working with a community arts charity to chick start creative careers for young people in Tower Hamlets.
Alexander McQueen has announced a new partnership aimed at supporting arts education in London’s Tower Hamlets.
By contributing funds to the A Team Arts Education, a community youth organisation based in East London, the luxury fashion brands wants to inspire and enable children disadvantaged backgrounds with hoped of opening doors jobs in the creative industries.
‘It feels especially important for us to be able to take part in supporting young people from the East End of London, where Lee Alexander McQueen grew up’, says Sarah Burton, the brand’s creative director since 2010, who famously designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.
Importantly, the initiative is about letting participants, many of whom have not had the chance to take GCSE or A Level qualifications in creative subjects, learn about lesser – known jobs available within the fashion industries. ‘There are so many possibilities’, Burton says. ‘You can be an embroidery designer, you can be a print designer, you can be a pattern cutter – we are all part of the same team. I want people to understand that even if you don’t want to be a designer, you can still be creative’.
Through practical, community – led workshops, Saturday schools and courses over school holidays, 11 to 18 years – olds are taught skills from sewing button holes to draping silk satin on mannequins. Throughout 2022, McQueen will host collaborative fashion classes. ‘At a time when schools and local authorities are reducing their arts budgets and provisions, we still need the arts to help bring about a positive recovery and come together after the pandemic’, says Sarbjit Natt, the charity’s director. It comes as STEM subjects are being pushed in schools, while the universities regulator, The Office for Students, has confirmed a 50 per cent cut on arts subject funding.
The idea was kickstarted when the London – based fashion house met The A Team Arts Education group during the pandemic. Berni Yates, who works on the Central Saint Martins Insights Programme which prepares students with less access to university for art school applications, was the connecting figure between brand and charity, setting up an initiative workshop. ‘When McQueen work with you, you are fantastic’, she says.
‘They moved the whole of the studio to the community centre in Tower Hamlets, set up womenswear, menswear, embroidery and print with all the designers there’, Yates says of the pilot of workshops and classes. ‘I knew Lee when he was young. He did his MA with us at Central Martins, and struggled financially, so I just know that he would have 100% endorsed this’.
McQueen is known for championing the arts and most recently, in 2019, donated surplus fabric to more than 20 fashion education institutions for students, like menswear star SS Daley, to use in their collections.