Yorkshire will soon be home to a “fame academy” for fashion designers in a bid to kick-start the textile industry’s revival. The project’s aim is to create around 30 Yorkshire based textile and design businesses over the next three years, with the help from established names in the industry. The graduates will be able to use a 600 square metre design studio, with services including a testing laboratory, and a fashion studio with digital printing facilities. They will also have access to a technical workshop hopusing computer controlled carding, spinning, warping and weaving equipment.
Bill Macbeth, the managing director of the centre, said each applicant would be vetted by a group of local industrialists and members of Business Link. If the entrepreneur’s idea is considered commercially viable, they will be offered a place in the centre. The centre’s support team will provide advice and access to business start-up grants. Help will be on hand with the manufacture of samples and collections. Each new business will be matched with a mentor from a leading local manufacturing company, who will provide practical help and advice.
Yorkshire Forward has invested more than £500,000 in the centre. It’s one strand of the regional development agency’s Textile Forward initiative, which aims to promote Yorkshire’s traditional textiles heartland. Edward Stanners, the chairman of Textiles Forward, who will be one of the panel vetting the applicants, said: “This new facility provides a unique opportunity to bring together the region’s world class manufacturing businesses and the cream of our local design talent. It is vital that we provide practical support to help our most talented designers to start up a business locally, and to help them build strong design and manufacturing operations.
One of the first designers to win a place is James Macdonald, who studied fashion and tailoring at Batley School of Art & Design. James, who has industry experience working for Patrick Cox in London & Paris, has designed a contemporary menswear collection for Spring Summer 2005.
James believes that people want clothes with pedigree, and integrity; that say something about who they really are. People are returning to the old ways of doing things. There’s a return of handicrafts and the craftsmen. Discerning consumers associate quality and individuality with small artisan workshops.
James views his designs as creating sustainable style; timeless quality; potential heirlooms. He uses surface texture detail, mixing digital printing with traditional screen printing, and appliqué work :
adding depth, history and meaning to the garment. The inspiration for his latest collection came from Russia at the turn of the last century; the epic love story of Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago combined Tsarist and Bolshevik themes: raw knits, luxuriously printed devores, and bold orthodox prints; they sum up the essence of the masculine poetic Zhivago.
(James featured in the Yorkshire times, see below)