This is the fifth year I’ve had the privilege of being the chairman of Graduate Fashion Week and every year I am full of admiration for the fantastic talent emerging from our universities.
There are 52 universities in our consortium, who have developed a reputation for providing the best fashion education in the world, a fact reflected in the number of non-UK residents graduating with us, a figure that has grown to 20% this year.
Nothing moves across the globe as fast as fashion and it is incredibly important for the industry to recognise that it is from the emerging talent at our universities that fashion begins. Every generation has to face the task of getting their first steps on the careers ladder and this year will be particularly difficult given the lack of opportunities resulting from the global recession.
I’d like to thank all the firms that have supported our Graduate Fashion Week Protégé Project, offering graduates a short-term contract: River Island, Pentland Group, Karen Millen, Mulberry, Elle magazine, Asos, Peacocks, John Lewis and designer indie Matches.
I believe we have a duty to do everything we can to channel today’s skills into real jobs, ensuring the world’s best graduate talent is utilised in a way to benefit not only the graduate, but also the UK’s creative economy.
There is great warmth and support for Graduate Fashion Week. This year, photographer Mary McCartney waived her fee for our shoot and fashion illustrator David Downton provided a number of illustrations for our new website, while we have drawn new sponsorship from Lyle & Scott, Per Aquum and Hachette Filipacchi.
The Graduate Fashion Week trustees and I also owe a great debt to River Island, for its continued and enthusiastic support for the fifth year running.
- Terry Mansfield is chairman of Graduate Fashion Week