Supporting excellence in fashion design

Education


At the heart of the BFC strategy to support excellence in design education sits the
BFC Colleges Council. Founded in 1993 to create an interface between education and industry, the BFC Colleges Council is a membership programme representing the leading fashion departments in universities across the UK. 

The aim is to connect an extensive network of experienced course leaders with the fashion and wider creative industries together in support of arts and fashion education. 

The BFC organises an annual Colleges Council programme of events and competitions to offer students and course leaders the chance to interact with the industry, enriching education and creating opportunities. Learn more about the BFC Colleges Council here.  

The BFC has a number of committees advising on briefings and industry-led work-streams, including the BFC Colleges Council Steering Committee, which provides strategic direction to the Colleges Council programme.

To ensure the growth and success of the British fashion industry, while supporting future talent, the BFC aims to attract, develop and retain innovation by:

  • Informing young people about the breadth of opportunities and careers available in the fashion industry.
  • Inspiring young people from diverse backgrounds through the nationwide Fashion&Business Saturday Club programme.
  • Organising industry-focused events and competitions for the BFC Colleges Council.
  • Enabling talented individuals to pursue higher education through scholarship programmes funded by the BFC Foundation.

BFC COLLEGES COUNCIL STEERING COMMITTEE

The BFC has a number of committees advising on briefings and industry-led work-streams, including the BFC Colleges Council Steering Committee, which provides strategic direction to the Colleges Council programme.

  • Andrew Groves, Professor of Fashion Design, University of Westminster 
  • Elinor Renfrew, Honorary Professor, Kingston School of Art, Kingston University
  • Hywel Davies, Programme Director, Fashion, Central Saint Martins 
  • Jo Jenkinson, Reader & Deputy Head, Manchester Fashion Institute
  • Louise Pickles, Course Leader & Coordinator of Fashion, Fashion, Bath School of Art and Design
  • Mal Burkinshaw, Head of the School of Design, Edinburgh College of Art

BFC FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS 

The British Fashion Council Foundation works to underpin the next generation of creative talent through its education initiatives. Supporting students is imperative to maintaining the UK’s position as the birthplace of global talent.

The BFC Foundation provides financial support to a number of students to complete their studies. Scholarships are offered to those undertaking their MA or BA courses at a BFC Colleges Council member college. All applications are assessed based on talent and financial need, using information given in the application, the portfolio, the applicant’s financial circumstances and references received. Shortlisted applications are reviewed by a panel of industry representatives.

In 2021/22 BFC Scholarships were awarded to 26 students from BFC Colleges Council member universities including Buckinghamshire New University, Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Westminster. 

BFC Scholarship alumni include Benny Andallo, Erdem, Graeme Raeburn, James Buck of Rottingdean Bazaar, Matty Bovan, Nabil Nayal, Rebecca Jeffs (RTW designer at Loewe), Paolo Carzana, Paolina Russo and Patrick McDowell.

Watch the ‘BFC Scholars: Meet the Innovators’ film to hear from last year's scholars and explore their work.

With many thanks to Chanel and Dior Men for their named Scholarships. 

COMPETITIONS

Competitions are organised throughout the academic year to offer course leaders and students the opportunity to interact with the industry, gaining invaluable insight and experience in the process, as well as cash prizes for the winner/s and sometimes paid internship opportunities. 

Examples from industry partners past and present are: Givenchy, Burberry, Stella McCartney, ICEBERG, Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Phoebe English, MTV, Pinatex, NET-A-PORTER, British Library, NETFLIX. 

If you’d like to find out more or discuss an idea for a competition, please email: colleges.council@britishfashioncouncil.com 

EVENTS AND ACTIVATIONS

The BFC Colleges Council programme runs a series of online and physical events for member universities. In 2021/22 this included ‘Meet the Industry’ webinars, featuring conversations between designer Saul Nash and Sarah Mower MBE, and between Dimitra Petsa from brand DI PETSA and Jeanie Annan-Lewin, as well as ‘Fashion Industry Updates’ on BFC Institute of Positive Fashion’s The Circular Fashion Ecosystem Report, and greenwashing in the fashion industry. 

Each London Fashion Week, BFC Colleges Council members also have the opportunity to apply for a slot on the LFW schedule (show fees apply) or be part of the LFW digital platform on the Explore page. 

In June 2021, 14 BFC Colleges Council member universities were spotlighted alongside 15 graduating BFC scholars from both MA and BA.

GRADUATE PREVIEW

The BFC Colleges Council Graduate Preview is a showcase of the best emerging talent underpinning the creative future of the fashion industry. A curated selection of universities from the BFC Colleges Council are awarded this opportunity every year.

The physical annual event Graduate Preview Day returns on Friday 10th June 2022, showcasing students to fashion recruiters, industry representatives, course leaders and designers. 

Alongside the physical event, Graduate Preview 2022 will also be reflected on the digital platform, which will feature graduate portfolios from the same universities, giving industry and recruiters the opportunity to view work online and engage with course leaders and tutors directly. 

STUDENT FABRIC INITIATIVE

Student Fabric Initiative is a fabric donation project spearheaded by Charlie Porter and Sarah Mower MBE, originally piloted by Alexander McQueen, re-launched with Burberry, and managed and delivered through the British Fashion Council, with the pilot being offered exclusively to Colleges Council members. 

The objectives of the project are: 

  • To encourage, and make easy, the donation of deadstock fabrics to students at no cost to the university.
  • To help disadvantaged students, who may otherwise not be able to afford fabric.
  • To close the loop between industry and education.
  • To normalise the repurposing of deadstock fabric as part of design, embedding the practice in fashion education.

In 2021/22, 23 BFC Colleges Council member universities received donations from Burberry. 

With many thanks to The Materialist for their support. 

BFC X PFAFF THE SEWING MACHINE PROJECT 

The BFC have joined forces with PFAFF Sewing machines to give sewing machines to the BFC scholars and BFC Colleges Council students for the duration of their studies. 

For many students, the pandemic was a moment of crisis, especially those unable to find employment to subsidise their education. COVID-19 jeopardised the education of fashion students who faced making their collections with limited access to the university and their equipment as well as missing out on the creative connections and opportunities of university life.  

This initiative is to support students who may otherwise not be able to afford machinery.

Learn more about PFAFF here.

NATIONAL SATURDAY CLUB 

The BFC is a long-term partner of the National Saturday Club (NSC). The NSC offers a free, year-long creative education programme of weekly Saturday classes and national events for 13-16 year-olds from diverse backgrounds across the country, with a particular focus on widening participation. Since 2009, the National Saturday Club has enabled 9,500 13-16 year-olds to study many disciplines at their local university, college or cultural institution on Saturday mornings, creating life-changing experiences for those who have taken part. Watch a short film about NSC and visit the website to learn more.

As part of this partnership, the BFC organises an industry Masterclass for each of the Fashion&Business Clubs. Masterclasses provide a chance for young people to take part in a one-off session led by industry experts and offer an insight into the fashion industry, spotlighting the various career opportunities available with a joyful and experimental activity during the session. Learn more on the Fashion & Business Masterclasses.

The 2021/22 programme of masterclasses included sessions with Alexander McQueen, Nabil Nayal, TEIJA, Deborah Latouche and Kaushik Velendra. Past masterclasses were hosted by GQ, Royal Opera House, Nike, ASOS, WGSN, Butler Archive, i-D Magazine, Rottingdean Bazaar, Apple, DAZED, and Helen Kirkum

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