MA Fashion Artefact designer Ahmed Sabry came to London College of Fashion with his partner to develop their skills as designers and entrepreneurs so they could take their brand Sabry Marouf to the next level. He’s the latest Graduate Spotlight feature for LCFMA16. Parts of his collection are being exhibited at LCFMA16 Graduate Exhibition, which open to the public until Saturday 20 February.
LCF News caught up with Ahmed while he was still developing his final collection in a small studio at our Golden Lane site. He didn’t come from a design background or education, he discussed why he left Egypt to come and study at LCF, and how he found adjusting to a postgraduate and a course that requires the highest level of craftsmanship.
What did you study MA Fashion Artefact at LCF?
I did in BA back home in Egypt. I studied Advertising and Corporate Relations, its quite different to what I’m doing now. Back home in Egypt, I started my own business with my partner, we were doing fashion jewellery for about four years. I was in advertising for a year after graduating then quit to take the business on full-time. At some point, we decided it would be best to do an MA in design. My partner and I both decided to study a postgraduate at the same time, we both applied to LCF, me to MA Fashion Artefact, he’s studying MA Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I’m the design side and he’s the business of our brand.
I wanted to study at London College of Fashion because the course programme wasn’t like any other I saw. I didn’t want to study fashion accessories, garments and jewellery as in smithing etc., I wanted to study something that was more contemporary. My partners idea was to take the brand in more directions commercially, we know that leather goods are very big in fashion sales, so we wanted to do something with leather. That’s why I looked at Artefact, it seemed like the right course for me.
Tell us a little bit about your final collection?
I created a collection for the course but also for my brand, it was quite a tough finding the right balance. My partner was feeding me information about our clients and the market, so I began meeting clients to talk to them about what they wanted from the brand. Both my tutors were very involved in the creation of my collection, its something that pleases both my education and business. I created artefact, they’re not quite handbags, I’m kind of creating little clutches and bigger bags. But they have a lot of method and craftsmanship involved in them. I tried to link my collection back to the brand, so its a mix of jewellery and handbags.
What do you like most about your course? What have you found most challenging?
The most enjoyable part of the whole experience was working with leather. Its the first time I’ve worked with it or moulded it. The exciting thing was seeing the possibility of what could be done with leather and my final collection. It was exciting seeing what I could with this and in the future!
There were a lot of challenges, like I said, I didn’t come from a design background. That was the hardest part of me, learning all the technical names for ways of doing things. For the first couple of months, all I did was adjust to the environment and skills. It took a while to build my confidence, I didn’t believe I could complete this postgraduate in a year at first. But when I got over that, it was kind of okay. It was definitely difficult in the beginning though!
What would be your top three tips to prospective students?
Your kind of on our own, its literally a self-directed study. Its what you want to do, the tutors and course guide your decisions, but they won’t make them for you. So you have to be sure about what you want to do. If you say you want to use leather, go out and learn it, don’t want for them to tell you how to use it!
The second thing is, know what you want to do after. Studying a postgraduate requires investing a lot of time and money. So don’t just do something so you can have an MA on your CV, people aren’t just going to hire you because of that certificate. You have to know what your going to do, you need a plan for after graduating.
Take in everything you can! There’s a lot of creative people around you, listen to them, take it in. Try and spend as much time as possible with them!
What is your plan after you finish your MA?
The first option is to stay in the UK! We’ve made some great contacts here, we’ve been building our base here slowly, there’s a lot of Egyptians in London. A lot of people seem to be into what were doing, London kind of likes our ancient Egyptian theme. But if it doesn’t work out in the UK, then we’ll probably go to New York. My partner is American, so there’s scope for us to try and do our thing in the States. I know the law in the UK changed a few years ago, its harder for recent graduates to stay here once they’ve completed their degrees. So I have to bare that in mind, that's why New York is a good option for us. Unless you have a huge sum of money, or sponsorship to stay in the UK, it can be hard apply your trade here. But I think we have a great chance, the brand is quite strong, so hopefully our startup will be considered. Egypt is always our home-base, but the market isn’t there like it is in London or New York.