In Conversation with LCF Graduate Tailors, Tak Chigaduro and Leisha Parlour - 1 Month On
In late August 2021, LCF Stories announced the arrival of two new graduate tailors at 26 Kingly Street. Takudzwa Chigaduro and Leisha Parlour were announced as resident tailors as part of the Carnaby X London College of Fashion partnership, providing free studio space. Both Takudzwa (known as Tak) and Leisha will also be given mentoring and business advice, courtesy of LCF's Graduate Futures team. Mentors will include LCF tailoring graduate Harold Tillman and Savile Row’s first female Tailor, Kathryn Sargent.
One month on, Tak and Leisha are starting to settle into their new surroundings, acclimatising to working life in one of London's most iconic neighbourhoods. We spoke to both graduates about their future goals, their gratitude for the opportunity and the projects that they're currently working on.
Tak is a 23-year-old tailor and fashion designer living and working in London. Born in Zimbabwe, Tak completed her degree in Bespoke Tailoring at LCF in 2019 and has been working on a range of fashion industry roles since.
Tak's gratitude for her own studio space is apparent, remarking it's something that she "wouldn't have done otherwise at this stage."
"It's great to have a space I can just go to when I have an idea for a new project that I might want to explore. I know that I can just be in this space that's set up to keep inspiration flowing when it strikes."
The project in question at the moment is based on the history of motorcycle culture. "I'm currently in the research stages of the idea and as someone who would like to own a motorcycle," says Tak.
Her goal is to craft a garment that marries traditional biker aesthetics with fashion-forward tailoring techniques that "still keep the garments practical and are safe to wear when on the road". Going into further depth, Tak states "For example, we'd have design details from a traditional two-piece suit and also take pocket detailing inspiration from traditional workwear."
Regarding the future, Tak has her heart set on transitioning to the universe that is 3D Fashion Design. "My next steps will be to do further research in how I can incorporate it into my work and how that would benefit me as a brand. I would also like to learn how to use the software myself and start the process of experimenting with clients."
Leisha was born and raised in London and graduated with a degree in BA (Hons) Bespoke Tailoring at LCF in 2020. She takes pride in showcasing her hometown’s vibrant and industrious lifestyle through her work and combines this with the individuality of her clients. Leisha's design philosophy incorporates sustainability and experimental craftsmanship to carve a modern space in the future of bespoke tailoring.
The communal spirit among the Kingly Street tailors has resonated with Leisha in the opening weeks. "Since attending the community breakfast, and meeting other people in the Carnaby area, everyone always has such great things to say about Shaftesbury and how supportive they are for small businesses," she says. "It’s also so convenient being able to walk from one supplier to another, picking up bits here and there. I’m not dealing with anywhere near the amount of deliveries that I was before."
Events like these seem to have made the settling in process much easier for the new tailors, though Leisha is readily positive about how the first month has been. "Shaftesbury have been so supportive throughout with making sure we have everything we need, as well as making us feel welcome by introducing us to our neighbours," she says. "It has been great getting to know the tailors in the building and an inspiring start to the journey."
Leisha has wasted no time regarding her personal work; her current project is an upcycled collection made from recycled tapestry.
"I’ve also been working on a couple of client projects, including a 3 piece suit for a client inspired by boat life and a 2 piece evening suit inspired by tattoo culture."
Leisha's preference for client based work stems from a wish to craft bespoke pieces, "rather than buying into a brand's aesthetic and losing the want for it after a while because it is not personal".
"My projects tend to be inspired by the client I am creating for since I use my craft to create a look fitting to them, not just in the traditional craftsmanship of tailoring but also aesthetically," says Leisha. "It creates an emotional connection to the piece and encourages you to hold onto it for a lifetime."