Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Brita Hirsch Launches Bespoke Tailoring Academy as Alternative to Savile Row Apprenticeship

Many of you will remember the bespoke Harris tweed Norfolk jacket that tailor Brita Hirsch made for me earlier this year. She also wrote an informative series for us on tailoring which showed the depth of her passion about, and experience of, the bespoke process (links below). 

Brita has now applied that experience to launching the UK's only training centre accredited to deliver the ABC Level 5 Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring as a stand-alone qualification with premises in a beautifully converted textile mill in Macclesfield. I asked her to tell me more:

Brita Hirsch in her beautiful Tailoring Academy

GF: Brita, I know you as an exceptional bespoke tailor who's made me one of the favourite items in my wardrobe. You have now opened an academy in bespoke tailoring - could you tell us what made you feel that there's scope for such an academy?

BH: Thank you David, I love to hear that your Harris Tweed Norfolk jacket has that special status! 

The idea for the Tailoring Academy was born when I became aware of a huge demand for practical skills training in our sector: there is a real trend for young people towards learning traditional crafts and bespoke tailoring is certainly most sought after. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of apprenticeships available each year, and most are based in London, on Savile Row. This often means that aspiring tailors can’t even consider applying, as the cost of living in the capital is so high. 

Around a year ago, ABC Awards launched a new, government approved qualification: the Level 5 Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring. Designed by the Savile Row Bespoke Association and Creative Skillset England, the programme aims to address just this shortage by providing an acknowledged qualification to those looking for an alternative route to the three year apprenticeship. I took the plunge, went through the accreditation process, found the most wonderful premises in a converted former textile mill, and founded the academy. 

GF: What sets the Tailoring Academy apart?

BH: The Tailoring Academy is the only training facility in the UK accredited to deliver the Level 5 Diploma as a stand alone qualification. The Diploma has just been recognised by the UK Fashion and Textiles Association, making it a nationally acknowledged qualification. Even better, the CapitB Trust has committed to grant £2,500 to each student enrolled with the Tailoring Academy. The trust, which is funding training for the next generation of fashion and textiles industry talent, will grant the money in recognition of the unique opportunity the Academy provides: 

Students will acquire the entire skill set - Cutter AND Tailor - from pattern drafting to hand finishing bespoke garments, in a full-time course with a focus on the all-important practical skills. There will be no essay-writing but hands-on practice, within the environment of a working tailoring house. Class size is limited to only six students to ensure that each individual gets the maximum out of the course. 

The academy is licensed - as the only UK provider - to deliver pattern construction using the renowned Müller & Sohn system, in English. Graduates will be in a position to draft bespoke garment patterns from scratch, individually for each customer. They will be issued with the Müller & Sohn certificate upon completion of the course.

The academy will bring the highest level of tailoring training to the North of England for the first time. Based in Macclesfield, the old centre of the UK silk industry, there are excellent train links to Manchester (25min), London Euston (1h 40min) and further afield, plus affordable accommodation. 

GF: Who are your typical applicants?

BH: Candidates have typically already spent some time working in the sector and look for the practical skills needed to progress in their field. They may hold a degree in fashion or textile design, are costume makers, dress and textile specialists or are self-taught. They are clear about their targets and bring determination to round off their education with this acknowledged qualification.

GF: When will the academy launch and how can prospective students find out more?

BH: The programme will launch on 10 September and will run through until July next year. It will offer 1,200 hours of tuition, roughly three times the amount academic programmes typically provide. Anyone interested can find more information on the academy website or can get in touch with me directly via brita@tailoringacademy.co.uk

Links: Brita Hirsch's series Exploring Bespoke here on the blog.

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