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Fashion Technology Academy Learners Meet Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith


Mr Duncan Smith revealed that he has learned a lot about fashion through his daughter Alicia, a graduate designer at COS, who has also held placements with Burberry, Markus Lupfer and Banana Republic. 

Learner Francie Casey found meeting Iain Duncan Smith to be a very positive and interesting experience, he comments, “talking to him about his daughter’s experience as a young creative individual studying fashion was very interesting for me, especially hearing about an outfit she designed for an event her mother was attending.” 

Francie goes on to praise the support he has received, “without the support of Department of Work and Pensions I could not have achieved my dream of becoming a designer. I would really like to thank everyone who has supported me in my journey to achieving my dreams, especially the team at Fashion Enter. My tutors Leyla, Melissa, Marilyn, Wendy and Keeley have not only taught me the garment production process but have supported and guided me through my own personal journey with mental illness, I would thoroughly recommend the FTA as a training provider. Jenny Holloway has been a wonderful mentor and has provided me with feedback that has helped me to reach my dream as a designer. I now feel as though I fit into the fashion industry as a creative young designer.” 

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Iain Duncan Smith third from the right with Anna Maria Michael, Jenny Holloway and Waltham Forest College students

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On the subject of the return to British manufacturing Mr Duncan Smith commented, “The Fashion industry is a huge British success story but the success is in design. There are other areas of the industry where we used to be world leaders, but the skills we used to have here have gone abroad. I want to see these skills brought back.” Skills such as pattern cutting and tailoring are all being undertaken by learners at the Fashion Technology Academy. 

Anna Maria talks of her experience as a learner at the FTA, “When I came to the Level 1 Stitching course at Fashion Enter I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that I loved fashion and always have done ever since I was about 3! I loved the course and learnt so much about machines, stitching and fabrics and I must have been relatively good because Fashion Enter offered me a two year apprenticeship with the Level 3 course. I learnt so much on this course. Everything from fit, fabrics, fashion trends, what quality actually means and I was really proud of my portfolio too. Now I have finished my Level 3 and I am employed full time as a Production Assistant. I just love my job as every day is so different and I have really been working on developing a new system for production called Galaxius. I am really glad I had the opportunity of meeting Iain Duncan Smith because without the work of the DWP I would never have had the free course for the Stitching Level 1 in the first place. It just goes to prove that you should always try new things even if you don’t think they may work. I never saw myself as a stitcher but I never thought that the course would lead to this job either!” 

Fashion Capital is flying the flag for British manufacturing, producing garments for UK brands such as M&S and ASOS.com, and by training the next generation of industry specialists. 

Fashion Capital CEO Jenny Holloway comments, “We all really welcomed meeting Mr Duncan Smith who clearly understands how the fashion industry works – a very encouraging sign! We are very grateful to the DWP for their support in our programme to allow adults the chance to upskill by having machine and pattern accredited qualifications. We have really had a major impact on people’s lives by creating REAL employment opportunities. It was so rewarding for me personally to see how Francie and Anna Maria have just blossomed as people!”

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