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Fashion Tailoring Academy in plea for funding to save skills

Fashion Tailoring Academy course director Sandra Kotei has appealed to the industry and the Government to pledge resources towards salvaging technical tailoring skills, echoing calls made by Drapers as part of the Save Our Skills (SOS) campaign.

Kotei, a former tailor at Savile Row tailor Charlie Allen, receives no external funding from the public or private sector to run the course. She fears basic tailoring skills will vanish in the UK without support from the Government or key industry players.

She said: “The Government should be interested in what I’m doing and help people like me. [The industry is] missing the skills [the course] offers and before I retire I am pushing until somebody takes notice. Even if they don’t give me the money, give me the equipment.”

The Fashion Tailoring Academy is in its second year and has 10 students enrolled across both years’ intakes. Students who pass the three-year course receive a BTEC Level 4 in Apparel Design Technology and learn techniques such as block drafting and grading and bespoke cutting. The course costs £4,000 for the first year, £4,500 for the second and £5,000 for the third.

Kotei has written to industry figures including designers Jasper Conran, Paul Smith, Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green and British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman as well as her local MP Greg Hands to secure funding or machinery and equipment. She is yet to receive any guarantees of help.

Kotei said fashion courses often focused on design without paying enough attention to basic tailoring skills: “You need to know technical skills and details to underpin design knowledge and creativity.”

She added that apprenticeship schemes, such as the Government-backed fashion manufacturing apprenticeships proposed by culture minister Ed Vaizey in April, would be problematic if those taking on the apprentice do not have teaching qualifications or the financial and time resources to make it worth the while of both parties.

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