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The new champions of UK textiles

07 October 2019

Now in its fifth year, the Prince’s Foundation’s Future Textiles initiative is ramping up efforts to attract a new generation into the British textile industry, while ensuring sustainable practices are embedded from the start.

So far in its five years, more than 5,000 people, both young and old, have benefited from the Future Textiles project. Initiatives such as the Sewing Bee, where mixed-ability students can sew jackets or trousers, now regularly attract 27 attendees a week.

There is an eight-week programme delivered in the LVMH Textile Training Centre at Dumfries House, which focuses on the sewing skills required to support local and UK manufacturers. The programme includes a week-long work placement with local businesses that are keen to recruit machinists who can produce high-quality goods to a professional standard and in a timely manner.

Future Textiles opened at Trinity Buoy Wharf in March. It delivers sewing and garment construction sessions to school groups and adults in the local community in an open-plan studio. It can host 12 pupils a day and is working a lot with a large home-schooled community.

“It is a slightly different dynamic in Tower Hamlets,”
Farrell says. “There is no gender divide, and you are as equally likely to see boys get involved as girls, which is really encouraging.”

Back at Dumfries House, a hand-knit development programme is due to start at the end of October, supported by Connolly, the British leather brand founded by the late Joseph Ettedgui – who also started the Joseph womenswear brand – which aims to help people turn their hobbies into a career. It is all part of a broader movement to reinvigorate the UK manufacturing base and the careers within it.

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