London College of Fashion works harder than ever before to support student and graduate businesses, contributing to the UK’s industrial strategy and creative economy
LCF was founded in response to industry needs, so we work with our students to ensure that they are ‘career-ready’ but also with businesses to future-proof the industry; discovering where there might be skills gaps, what new roles are evolving, and what businesses need to thrive. This is in response to the UK’s industrial strategy which places emphasis on a need to develop new creative and tech businesses to ensure growth.
LCF doesn’t just want to ‘land’ in east London when we move to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2023. We support a whole fashion ecosystem; from working with schools and young people to provide arts education, to providing skills and training to a local workforce aiming to address the critical shortage of technical skills in London, to supporting new businesses to be able to offer job opportunities. It’s an entire pipeline which contributes to the UK economy and ensures that we can come up with the creative ideas, make them and market them, all on our own doorstep.
Over 30% of London’s fashion SMEs are based in east London, and we know a lot of our students and graduates already work here, so we want to give them more opportunities and support to start and run their businesses. Fashion in east London supports over 35,000 jobs, and the 2018 NESTA ‘Creative Nation’ report states that between 2011- 2014 and 2015-2016, the creative industries in the average local economy increased by 11 per cent, twice as fast as in the rest of the economy. We learn from our students and graduates as well as them learning from us, and as 80% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been thought of yet, creative ideas and innovation are vital.
It’s also one of the many ways our alumni can interact with us; once you graduate from LCF you are still in the family and we will still support you.
What LCF offers
LCF supports student enterprise at every stage along the way; both during your studies and with business support afterwards.
LCF’s Student Enterprise Team (SET) (now Graduate Futures) was set up in 2016 and engages with students who want business advice through 1-2-1s, skills build sessions, the London venture bus crawl, and over 700 hours of curriculum time to date. They have supported over 60 businesses and worked with over 600 students. Graduate Futures hold the annual LCF is Enterprise Challenge, which awards £9,000 total prize money, support and mentoring to LCF student entrepreneurs with a great idea, and winners have included sustainable underwear brand Lara Intimates.
LCF Founders Club is a series of alumni networking events organised by the Graduate Futures team in collaboration with LCF's Alumni department. The first event was launched in February 2018 in association with Sheridan’s Law Firm at The Club at The Ivy where a panel of industry experts shared insights on Intellectual Property within the Fashion Industry.
Since then, over 70 alumni business owners have come together at venues across London such as Grant Thornton and Quo Vadis to share best practices and discuss topics such as Investment and The Power of Social Media.
Graduate Futures work extensively with our students to provide placement and work experience opportunities to 100% of our undergraduate courses, and a big number of our postgraduate ones too.
Centre for Fashion Enterprise at London College of Fashion facilitates the growth and development of small businesses in the fashion and tech industries, unlocking creativity and business potential, allowing designers to gain an international foothold.
Working with the next generation of London’s iconic design innovators, CFE fast tracks designers into businesses. Successes include Erdem, Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou, Marques Almeida and Craig Green. CFE are more closely aligning their support to LCF students and graduates, working as an incubator.
The Fashion District are an LCF-led partnership to help SMEs and new businesses in the east London area, with funding, low rent work space for example studios in Fish Island in partnership with The Trampery, networking and skills.
LCF are working with Poplar HARCA on Poplar Works; a new maker-space and creative hub which will include studios, social spaces, small business networks.