Our History

London College of Fashion has a dynamic and varied history as part of the British fashion industry. Britain was once the leader in manufacturing and trade and now spearheads business, design and artesanal production. We have adapted to, and pioneered, developments in the industry, from science and innovation to business and design. It is our unique past that has allowed for such forward-thinking.

In the nineteenth century, workers in the clothing industry were trained through an apprenticeship system, but by the end of that century the increase in population and new technology meant that these traditional skills were not meeting the needs of the industry and in response, the London County Council Education Board set up trade schools. 

1877

182 Mare Street was build to house Lady Eleanor Holles School for girls.

1887

Cordwainers College was founded as the Leather Trades School in Bethnal Green, the first school of shoe and boot manufacture.

1904

London County Council builds Lime Grove. It was originally the Hammersmith School of Building which was part of Hammersmith School of Art, instructing architects, some of whom went on to build the Millbank Estate behind Tate Britain. 

1906

The origins of London College of Fashion were three trade schools: Shoreditch Technical Institute Girls School (1906) with Barrett Trade School (1915) and Clapham Trade School (1920). These schools trained girls in the art of dressmaking, millinery, embroidery and hairdressing. They were as young as twelve and the schools were organised like typical secondary schools, with school uniforms and 30 hours per week, including Maths and English.

The schools identified the skills needed in the fashion industry at the time and fashioned teaching to service this need. For example, term finished in March, just in time for our students to walk into jobs preparing for the season's rounds of balls, parties and social events.

1926

In response to suggestions from the trade, the schools started taking older pupils of 15 and over, and offering evening classes for women already working. 

1928

Mayor of London’s Fancy Dress Ball – costumes for the children made by LCF students – image 77 in the book

1930

A new afternoon course for Ladies’ Maids

Students were also taught French as they would need this for retail trade (many suppliers of luxury fabrics were French)

1941

Junior school evacuated to Raimesfield, Castle Hill and Boyn Hill House, Maidenhead

Page xxiii illustration

1944

The 1944 Education Act required students to continue full time education until fifteen. Junior level courses were stopped and the senior classes expanded.

1935

In the 1930s, and through the war, we realised the significance of the fledgling ready-to-wear market and trained our pupils accordingly. This radical approach to design education is as pioneering today as it was back then. It's what makes us unique.

1966-7

The Barrett Street Technical College and Shoreditch College merged to form the London College of Fashion and Clothing Technology, which opened on a purpose-built site at John Princes Street.

1968

New courses including modelling and fashion writing were added to the curriculum.

1974-5

The name of the college changed to London College of Fashion.

By this time there were over 3,000 full time and evening students registered. 

1986

London College of Fashion became part of the London Institute.

1989

London College of Fashion offered its first degree course – BA (Hons) in Clothing

1998

The London Institute is granted its first Coat of Arms. 

2000

Cordwainers College, which had been based at Mare Street, merged with London College of Fashion – now there were six sites, Barrett Street, Davies Street, John Princes Street, Golden Lane, Curtain Road and Mare Street

2004

The London Institute becomes University of the Arts London.

2008

Cordwainers at London College of Fashion is awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education.

2009

University of the Arts London acquires 272 High Holborn, built in 2001.

2013

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, became the first ever patron of London College of Fashion

2014

LCF announces move to single site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

2021 we move in

So where will the next hundred years see us? Who knows? That's what makes the future so exciting. One thing we can be sure of: London College of Fashion will be at the centre of things.