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History of LCF

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 19th century, workers in the clothing industry trained through an apprenticeship system. However, by the end of the century the population increase and new technology meant these traditional processes were not meeting the needs of the industry and in response, the London County Council Education Board set up trade schools.

Timeline of LCF


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


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


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


London College of Fashion was the union of three trade schools: Shoreditch Technical Institute Girls School (1906), Barrett Trade School (1915) and Clapham Trade School (1920). These schools trained girls as young as 12 in the art of dressmaking, millinery, embroidery and hairdressing. Much like secondary schools, students wore school uniforms and attended 30 hours a week of classes, 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, so that students could find work preparing for that season's round of balls, parties and social events.


In response to suggestions from the trade, the schools started taking older pupils and offering evening classes for women in work.


Mayor of London’s Fancy Dress Ball – costumes for the children made by LCF students.


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)


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


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


In the 1930s, and through the war, we responded to the growing ready-to-wear market and trained our pupils in this. Such a radical approach to design education is as pioneering today as it was back then. It's what makes us unique.


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.


We add new courses including modelling and fashion writing to the curriculum.


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.


London College of Fashion became part of the London Institute.


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


The London Institute is granted its first Coat of Arms.


Cordwainers College, then based at Mare Street, merged with London College of Fashion, and became our sixth site, along with Barrett Street, Davies Street, John Princes Street, Golden Lane, Curtain Road and Mare Street.


The London Institute becomes University of the Arts London.


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


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


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


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

2022 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.