Textiles are in the DNA of Spitalfields, from silk weaving, to leather-working, tailoring and Bangladeshi fabrics on sale in Brick Lane.  We work with Fashion Students to inspire them about this rich legacy of fabrics and design through walks, talks and tailor-made initiatives.

Fabric of the City

Fabric of the City, a joint initiative with The Cass, London Metropolitan University, took place in 2015 as part of the Huguenots of Spitalfields Festival. Leading East London-based textile and fashion designers were invited  to respond to the rich heritage of Huguenots silk weavers, drawing upon the archives at the V&A and Museum of London to inspire new design innovations and techniques,  resulting in an exhibition of their designs at The Cass Bank Gallery

Seeing the beautiful Spitalfields’ silks in the archive of the Victoria & Albert Museum inspired the students to create new printed and stitched work. The reverse of the silks, with the floats creating contemporary looking abstracted shapes appealed to them, as did the intensity of the colours. In the archive they were able to see not only the fabrics, but complete garments and shoes, which really brought them to life, and helped them to imagine the fabrics being worn. The work they produced was some of the best of the year.

Gina Pierce, Cass lecturer and curator

Royal College of Art project

In a collaboration between Vanners Silk Mill, Sudbury, and The Royal College of Art, designs by final year Textile students were woven by Vanners and made into garments by MA Menswear students for their final year collections. 

It was a brilliant experience –  literally – and an opportunity for the students to see their ideas brought to life by the world’s most amazing silk weavers. Uniquely stunning.

Ike Rust, Senior Tutor, Royal College of Art.

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